New anti-Semitism

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The new anti-Semitism refers to the contemporary international resurgence of anti-Jewish incidents and attacks on Jewish symbols, as well as the acceptance of anti-Semitic beliefs and their expression in public discourse.

The term "new anti-Semitism" first came into general use in the early 1970s. Sometimes the term is used in a generic sense to denote all contemporary forms of anti-Semitism, but it is also used to distinguish an allegedly new kind of anti-Semitism from traditional forms.

In the latter sense, the new anti-Semitism is seen as distinct — in its rhetoric, its pretexts, and its locus on the political spectrum — from the old anti-Semitism that still exists alongside it. Critics contend that such a concept of "new anti-Semitism" only serves to equate legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Main article: Anti-Semitism


The nature of the new anti-Semitism

Whereas old anti-Semitism was associated with the political Right, the charge of new anti-Semitism is also applied to groups on the Left. The new anti-Semitism is often described as drawing its vocabulary and arguments from an opposition to Zionism, to the state of Israel, or to Israel's government, rather than from an overt hatred of Jews, though the latter may arise out of, or be otherwise associated with, the former.

Proponents of this model argue that some forms of anti-Zionism function as proxies for traditional anti-Semitism, thereby allowing anti-Semites to espouse a socially acceptable opposition to the Israeli state and its ideology, rather than a socially unacceptable religious or ethnic hatred. Proponents further argue that some grievances against Israel, stemming from the Arab-Israeli conflict, have become anti-Semitic in character, as manifested by hostility toward Jews in general.

Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks expressed this view when he said:

[T]he new antisemitism — and it is new — is a global phenomenon conveyed by Internet, e-mail, television and video, and we do not yet know how the new communications media will affect its spread. … It is coming simultaneously from three different directions: first, a radicalized Islamist youth inflamed by extremist rhetoric; second, a left-wing anti-American cognitive élite with strong representation in the European media; third, a resurgent far right, as anti-Muslim as it is anti-Jewish. [1] (

Most descriptions of specific political groups as examples of the new anti-Semitism have been challenged by critics. Although it is usually conceded that right-wing anti-Semites have latched onto aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that Arab anti-Zionism has led to a growth of anti-Jewish as well as anti-Israeli sentiment in the Arab world, critics argue that claims of a new anti-Semitism have largely, or even primarily, been used to deflect legitimate criticism of Zionism, of Israel, or of the Israeli government. Some have questioned whether any large portion of opposition to Israel is actually rooted in anti-Semitism; some have argued that the increase in anti-Semitism among Arabs and other Muslims, while lamentable, is a nearly inevitable outgrowth of the hostility between Israel and much of the Arab world, and is strictly an epiphenomenon of that conflict.

Often the "New anti-Semitism" is seen as distinct from classical anti-Semitism and defined by its link to anti-Zionism. This view is controversial. In his article "Human Rights and the New Anti-Jewishness", Irwin Cotler, the Minister of Justice for Canada, writes:

In a word, classical or traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, or denial of, the right of Jews to live as equal members of a free society; the new anti-Semitism — incompletely, or incorrectly, [referred to] as "anti-Zionism"... — involves the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations. What is intrinsic to each form of anti-Semitism — and common to both — is discrimination. All that has happened is that it has moved from discrimination against Jews as individuals — a classical anti-Semitism for which there are indices of measurement (e.g., discrimination against Jews in education, housing, or employment) — to discrimination against Jews as people — a new anti-Semitism — for which one has yet to develop indices of measurement. [2] (

Cotler outlines six categories and thirteen indices that illustrate the scope, character, and specific instances new anti-Semitism:

Category Indices
Genocidal anti-Semitism

• The public call for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people

Political anti-Semitism

• The discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the Jewish people's right to self-determination

• Discrimination against the Jews as a people

• The demonizing of Israel

Theological anti-Semitism

• The convergence of state-sanctioned Islamic anti-Semitism, which characterizes Jews, Judaism, let alone Israel, as the perfidious enemy of Islam

Cultural anti-Semitism

European hierarchical anti-Semitism

Denying Israel equality before the law

• The singling out of Israel for differential, if not discriminatory, treatment amongst the family of nations

• The disenfranchisement of Israel in the international arena

Economic anti-Semitism

• The extra-territorial application by Arab countries of an international restrictive covenant against corporations conditioning their trade with Arab countries on their agreement not to do business with Israel (secondary boycott)

• Not doing business with another corporation which may be doing business with Israel (tertiary boycott)

• Conditioning the trade with such corporations on neither hiring nor promoting Jews within the corporation

State-sanctioned anti-Semitism

• The state-sanctioned "culture of hate".

State of the controversy

For detailed contentions, see section Criticism.


Opponents of the concept of New anti-Semitism assert that:

  • Antipathy toward Israel's policies, its character as a Jewish state, or even its existence, does not necessarily amount to anti-Semitism.
    • People may have legitimate reasons to criticize or condemn the actions of any state, and Israel is as subject to this as any other.
    • There are Jewish groups and Jewish individuals who hold views critical of Israeli policy; some of these (though far fewer) even question the legitimacy of Israel's character as a Jewish state. Some Haredi groups regard the state of Israel and Zionism as secularist heresies, and a few fringe organizations, most notably Neturei Karta, have called for the creation of a unitary state of Palestine in the region. A minority of secular and non-Haredi Jews also oppose the state of Israel and Zionism from a standpoint of anti-nationalism. Former Knesset member Tamar Gozansky is one such figure, while prominent Jewish intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt and Martin Buber articulated similar views in the mid-twentieth century.
    • Many left-wing groups within mainstream Israeli politics hold views regarding some Israeli government policies similar to those criticized as anti-Semitic when expressed by left-wing groups outside Israel.
  • A frequent target for accusations of new anti-Semitism — the socialist Left — maintains a principled stand against any form of bigotry.
  • Accusations of anti-Semitism may be used to discredit those who criticize the actions of the Israeli government.
  • Comparing Israel with regimes known for repressive policies is commonplace within Israeli politics as well, with right-wing Zionists comparing Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ariel Sharon to Adolf Hitler.
  • Palestinians and their sympathizers have reasons to oppose Israel independently of its connection to the Jewish people. Some of these sympathizers bear ill will toward the Jewish people, while others do not.
  • Frivolous accusations of anti-Semitism could undermine the struggle against more serious examples of it.


Proponents of the concept of the new anti-Semitism respond to these objections as follows:

  • It is no coincidence that criticism against Israel is:
  • While it is certainly possible to criticize Israel without harboring anti-Semitic motivations, it is reasonable to assume that those who hate Jews also hate Israel.
  • Whether or not anti-Zionists harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, they should still be held responsible for promoting anti-Semitic prejudice.
  • The fact that some Jews are anti-Zionists does not provide immunity against anti-Semitism.
    • Religious anti-Zionists base their opposition on convictions that ultimately call for the return of Jews to Eretz Israel.
    • Just as all those who are critical of Israel aren't anti-Semitic, Jews who are critical of Israel have different reasons for their views.
    • Even so, Jews are not exempt from misguided attitudes and self-loathing neuroses.
  • It is patently apparent that vocal elements both within the secular and religious Arab world employ anti-Semitic images, canards, and stereotypes for political purposes.
  • The left wing is no more immune from bigotry than any other group.
  • There is ample evidence that the hostile popular opinion against Israel is correlated with blatant anti-Semitic acts.

Examples cited

The following have been identified by proponents of the term as specific examples that reflect New anti-Semitism:

  • Attacking Jews as a reaction to events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or as a means to terrorize Israel;
  • Misrepresenting Zionism or singling it out for obloquy;
  • Denying the State of Israel's right to exist as an equal member of the world community;
  • Equating Jews with Nazis;
  • Straw-man attacks, wherein Jews are alleged to claim that any and all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. This allegation is then used to condemn Jewish groups as unreasonable. According to Thomas Friedman, "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction — out of proportion to any other party in the Middle East — is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest." (The New York Times: "Campus Hypocrisy", October 16, 2002).

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

Related articles: anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism

Anti-Zionism is a term that has been used to describe several very different political and religious points of view (both historically and in current debates), all expressing some form of opposition to Zionism. Many commentators, particularly those supportive of Israel, believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and attribute this to anti-Semitism. In turn, critics of this view believe that associating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is intended to stifle debate, deflect attention from valid criticisms, and taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies. They point out that, during debate over the establishment of the State of Israel, most notably, many Hassidic Jews considered this manifestation of Zionism heretical. Today, the number of anti-Zionist Jewish groups worldwide is small.

There are examples of leading Zionists, while stating that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League is on the record saying "The harsh but un-deniable truth is this: what some like to call anti-Zionism is, in reality, anti-Semitism — always, everywhere, and for all time... Therefore, anti-Zionism is not a politically legitimate point of view but rather an expression of bigotry and hatred." [3] ( The World Union of Jewish Students looks at the dictionary definitions of anti-Semitism and Zionism and concludes that "According to these definitions it seems that anti-Zionism is Antisemitism" [4] ( Nevertheless, it distinguishes between opposition to Israel and anti-Zionism: "Can a person oppose the actions of the State of Israel, without denying its right to exist? The answer appears to be clearly yes."

Manifestations of the new anti-Semitism

False allegations

Proponents of the new anti-Semitism say that one of its manifestations involves false allegations made about Israel and Jews, with the intent of stirring up hatred against them. This section lists examples used to support that claim.

Perhaps the most notable case was the so called "Jenin massacre" allegation, in which it was claimed that in Jenin, Israeli Defense Forces committed atrocities "horrific beyond belief," according to United Nations special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen [5] (, and "massacred" 500–3000 innocent Palestinians during Operation Defensive Shield. Two weeks after the press promoted the Jenin massacre allegation, international reporters uncovered that no massacre had taken place in Jenin. Fatah lowered its estimate of the death toll to 56 people, the majority of whom were combatants, as were the 23 IDF soldiers killed during the battle. The "Jenin massacre" story sparked waves of anti-Israeli protests and violent attacks against Jews in Europe, and was regarded by many Jews as a modern blood libel.

The role of the media in reporting these events was highly controversial. Many Western media outlets were criticized as having deliberately misled their readers, and some reporters were accused of fabricating information to demonize Israel. However, reports by the Western media of a "massacre" in Jenin were generally presented as eyewitness accounts, and not as undisputed facts. The BBC, for instance, conveyed reports of a "massacre" from some international observers, but did not take a position as to whether or not such events had occurred.[6] ( Some reporters noted that it was difficult to ascertain what had actually happened in Jenin following the end of Israeli military operations there, as foreign observers were not initially given access to the city.

In the Arab media, conspiracy theories involving Jews abound: "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a text debunked many years ago as a fraud perpetrated by Czarist intelligence agents, continued to appear in the Middle East media, not as a hoax, but as established fact. Government-sponsored television in Syria ran lengthy serials based on the Protocols. The presentations emphasized blood libel and the alleged control by the Jewish community of international finance. The clear purpose of the programs was to incite hatred of Jews and of Israel. Copies of the Protocols and other similar anti-Semitic forgeries were readily available in Middle Eastern countries, former Soviet republics and elsewhere. Similarly, allegations that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks were widely disseminated."1 (See also 9/11 conspiracy claims regarding Jews or Israel)

Such media channels often broadcast globally and incite attacks against Jews. On December 2004, the French court banned Hizbullah's TV channel Al-Manar after repeated anti-Semitic attacks and allegations such as "Zionist attempts to transmit AIDS to Arab countries." [7] (

Straw-man anti-Semitism

One claim made by some opponents of Israel and/or the notion of a new anti-Semitism is that defenders of Israel describe any criticism of the State of Israel as anti-Semitism. This claim is then used to criticise defenders of Israel as unreasonable, or attempting to stifle legitimate debate.

However, proponents of the view that there is a New anti-Semitism point out that no groups supportive of Israel officially hold, or have ever held, such a position. One popular understanding of this issue can be found in a statement by the Anti-Defamation League:

"Criticism of particular Israeli actions or policies in and of itself does not constitute anti-Semitism. Certainly the sovereign State of Israel can be legitimately criticized just like any other country in the world. However, it is undeniable that there are those whose criticism of Israel or of "Zionism" is used to mask anti-Semitism." (Anti-Defamation League website.)

In his speech ( given at Berkeley University on April 29, 2004, Law Professor at Harvard University Law School Alan Dershowitz said, in particular: "Show me a single instance where a major Jewish leader or Israeli leader has ever said that criticizing a particular policy of Israeli government is anti-Semitic. That's just something made up by Israel's enemies."

Cartoons described as Anti-Semitic

The U.S. State Department report on Global Anti-Semitism1 describes the rise of anti-Semitic cartoons in Western media as a symptom of growing antisemitism:
Missing image
Graphic art-work created by Carlos Latuff, a cartoonist associated with left-wing groups such as Indymedia and Gush Shalom. This work, published in one of Indymedia's websites, depicts a Jewish religious soldier as eager to "kill Palestinian kids for fun in the name of God".
Critics of Israel frequently use anti-Semitic cartoons depicting anti-Jewish images and caricatures to attack the State of Israel and its policies, as well as Jewish communities and others who support Israel. These media attacks can lack any pretext of balance or even factual basis and focus on the demonization of Israel. The United States is frequently included as a target of such attacks, which often assert that U.S. foreign policy is made in Israel or that Jews control the media and financial markets in the United States and the rest of the world. During the 2004 United States presidential campaign, the Arab press ran numerous cartoons closely identifying both of the major American political parties with Israel and with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.

In one case, British daily, The Independent, depicted the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon eating a child. The cartoon (, drawn by Dave Brown and based on the painting Saturn Devouring one of his children ( by Goya, appeared whilst Sharon was seeking re-election in Israel and sparked a wave of protests from the Israeli embassy and Jewish human rights group. Critics accused the cartoonist of incitement and anti-Semitism. "This cartoon conjures up the horrific medieval antisemitic 'Blood Libel' and is more in keeping with the tradition of the Nazi paper 'Der Stürmer'," lamented Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center ([8] ( Despite the protests, the cartoon was selected as "Cartoon of the year of 2003" [9] ( The Independent's editor and the cartoonist denied that the cartoon was anti-Semitic and claimed it was just "anti-Sharon", and the British Press Complaints Commission ruled against the complaints, pointing to the fact that the same Goya painting had also been adapted to attack non-Jewish politicians [10] (,2763,961357,00.html).

Incidents in the United Kingdom

Since 2001, the Community Security Trust, an organisation whic records anti-semitic attaacks in Britain, has recorded a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents [11] ( The incidents recorded include verbal abuse, vandalism, desecration of property, abusive literature, threats and physical violence. Attacks on Jews and Israeli students were also recorded, and Jewish organisations assert that Islamist groups are active on university campuses, where militant Muslim students arranged conferences and protests against Israel and Jewish organisations.

There are concerns that the support for Palestine within some left-wing students and academic unions may enable anti-Semitism to pass unchallenged. Luciana Berger, a Jewish student, former National Union of Students (NUS) National Executive Committee member, and co-convener of the NUS Anti-Racism/ Anti-Fascism Campaign, resigned from her post after NUS conferences turned into a stage of anti-Semitic slurs, with the NUS refusing to condemn it. She told The Guardian:

Almost half a year ago, serious complaints were lodged about anti-semitic comments made by an NUS member in a public meeting. These complaints were ignored, with no official response or action. A few months ago, when it was (incorrectly) rumoured that I, a Jewish student, was standing for the NUS presidency, anti-semitic whispers rocked the NUS. And NEC members failed to condemn a comment made recently at the Soas Student Union in London that burning down a synagogue is a rational act. [12] (,9830,1460339,00.html)

Journalists and Jewish groups also protested against London's controversial mayor Ken Livingstone for endorsing Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim scholar and preacher who supports and advocates suicide bombings against Jews. [13] (

On April 29, 2003, Asif Hania and Omar Sharif, two British Muslim citizens, blew themselves up in Mike's Place Pub in Tel Aviv, killing three and wounding over 50. [14] (

Also, during the 2005 UK General election, the election for the riding of Bethnal Green & Bow in London's most heavily Muslim district was tainted by incidents of tire-slashing and vicious verbal assaults on the incumbent Labour candidate Oona King, who is half African-American (from a US emigrant) and half-Jewish. King's support for the war in Iraq, which was unpopular with many British voters and with Muslims in particular, may also have been intrumental in her unseating by George Galloway, candidate for the new, anti-war RESPECT Party. Galloway, who won by a narrow margin, was blamed by some for exacerbating the problem of anti-Semitism with his rhetoric against US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, despite his official denounciation of such attacks.

Incidents in France

During 2002 there was a dramatic increase of antisemitic attacks and incitement against Israel and Jews in France, ostensibly on the grounds of the then-upcoming United States war in Iraq (and its then-current campaign in Afghanistan) and the events of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most notably the eruption of violence during the al-Aqsa Intifada and the later refuted allegation of the Jenin massacre in April 2002.

Manifestions of hatred toward Israelis and Jews could be found in Anti-war rallies in France, which were often used as a stage for burning Israeli flags and chanting anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish slogans. In one event, serveral activists from the Zionist-socialist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair were attacked by the protesters, promoting harsh criticism from Aurélie Filipetti,

I felt we should stop putting our head in the sand, saying that these are only fringe effects and therefore 'none of our concern', which leads us to just condemn them and do nothing more... They explained to me that the slogan 'Bush and Sharon are murderers' is not antisemitism but anti-Zionism. But for me, when you burn the flag of Israel, it is antisemitism. The meaning is the delegitimation of Israel's right to exist.

she said to Maariv [15] ( She later wrote an article to Libération, blaming the French left-wing for turning a blind eye to antisemitism that seem to plague their own camp. [16] (

Though the French authorities vocally condemned antisemitism and took measures to combat the phenomenon, the number of attacks only increased. According to the National Consultative Commission of Human Rights, there were 970 antisemitic incidents in 2004, as compared to 601 incidents in 2003. [17] (

In May 2005, the Versailles court found three writers for Le Monde, as well as the newspaper's publisher, guilty of "racist defamation" against Israel and the Jewish people. The writers of the article "Israel-Palestine: The Cancer" (published in 2002) Edgar Morin (a well-known Jewish sociologist), Danièle Sallenave (a senior lecturer at Nanterre University) and Sami Nair (a member of the European parliament), as well as Le Monde's publisher, Jean-Marie Colombani, were ordered to pay symbolic damages of one Euro to the Franco-Israeli association and to Avocats sans frontières. This last association in the past provided justice assistance for french activists of Jewish Defense League. [18] (,,SB111766420704048626,00.html)[19] (,11882,1499139,00.html)

Incidents in the United States

Missing image
Poster displayed on the campus of SFSU

Incidents described as representative of the new anti-Semitism, where the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has been blurred, have been recorded by the Anti-Defamation League on college campuses across the U.S. [20] ( The organisation asserts that an April 9, 2002 rally by the Muslim Student Association at San Francisco State University ressurected the blood libel myth. The pro-Palestinian rally featured posters bearing a picture of soup cans reading "Made in Israel" on the label and listing the contents as "Palestinian Children Meat," and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the manufacturer. A photo of a baby, with its stomach sliced open, was also on the can, following the words "slaughtered according to Jewish Rites under American license." A month later, on May 7 SFSU-authorized pro-Israel rally was held by 30 Jewish students. During the rally, the pro-Israeli demonstrators clashed with about 60 pro-Palestinian students, who are alleged by the Jewish students to have screamed racist insults and used physical violence against them. The conflict continued for about 20 minutes until campus police arrived. Soon after, a cinder block was thrown through the glass doors of UC Berkeley's Hillel building on Passover. Around the same time, two Orthodox Jews were beaten one block from the UC Berkeley campus, and anti-Zionist graffiti appeared on the sidewalks, garbage cans and buildings near the school. [21] ( In covering the story about the campus unrest at SFSU, journalist Camille T. Taiara, a writer for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, disputed these reports of the attacks and blamed pro-Israeli demonstrators for trying to suppress opposition to the policies of the Israeli government. [22] (

Reactions and responses

Position of the United States

On December 30, 2004, the US Department of State published its annual Report on Global Anti-Semitism1, in accordance with Section 4 of PL 108-332. The report's summary says: "The increasing frequency and severity of anti-Semitic incidents since the start of the 21st century, particularly in Europe, has compelled the international community to focus on anti-Semitism with renewed vigor." "Four main sources" of the phenomenon were identified:

  • "Traditional anti-Jewish prejudice that has pervaded Europe and some countries in other parts of the world for centuries. This includes ultra-nationalists and others who assert that the Jewish community controls governments, the media, international business, and the financial world."
  • "Strong anti-Israel sentiment that crosses the line between objective criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Semitism."
  • "Anti-Jewish sentiment expressed by some in Europe's growing Muslim population, based on longstanding antipathy toward both Israel and Jews, as well as Muslim opposition to developments in Israel and the occupied territories, and more recently in Iraq."
  • "Criticism of both the United States and globalization that spills over to Israel, and to Jews in general who are identified with both."

The report contains major incidents, trends and actions taken around the world in the period between July 1, 2003 and December 15, 2004.

On April 28, 2004, at the OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism in Berlin, then United States Secretary of State Colin Powell explained, "It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the state of Israel, but the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified, for example by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures." [23] (

Position of the European Union

Groups monitoring hate speech and violence in the European Union have noted an upswing in attacks on Jewish people and Jewish institutions in many European countries. The Interior Minister of France has announced that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in France in 2004 is more than double that of the same period in 2003 ([24] (

In September 2004, The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, a part of the Council of Europe, called on its member nations to "ensure that criminal law in the field of combating racism covers anti-Semitism" and to penalize intentional acts of public incitement to violence, hatred or discrimination, public insults and defamation, threats against a person or group, and the expression of anti-Semitic ideologies. It urged member nations to "prosecute people who deny, trivialize or justify the Holocaust". The report said it was Europe's "duty to remember the past by remaining vigilant and actively opposing any manifestations of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance... Anti-Semitism is not a phenomenon of the past and... the slogan 'never again' is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago." ([25] (

According to a study by Pew Research Center, in some European countries there has been a recent decrease in some forms of anti-Semitism.

Position of the United Nations

Many Jewish groups have been disappointed with the role of the United Nations in regards to the treatment of Jews; many Jewish groups and writers have stated that the actions of the United Nations have often implicitly condoned, or encouraged, anti-Semitism.

The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated on June 21, 2004: "It is hard to believe that 60 years after the tragedy of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is once again rearing its head. But it is clear that we are witnessing an alarming resurgence of these phenomena in new forms and manifestations. This time the world must not, cannot, be silent." Annan then asked UN member states to adopt a resolution to fight anti-Semitism, and stated that the UN's Commission on Human Rights must study and expose anti-Semitism in the same way that it fights bias against Muslims. Annan stated "Are not Jews entitled to the same degree of concern and protection?" [26] (, [27] (

Anne Bayefsky, a Canadian human rights activist, addressed the UN specifically on this matter on the same day:

At the U.N., the language of human rights is hijacked not only to discriminate but to demonize the Jewish target. More than one quarter of the resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations adopted by the commission over 40 years have been directed at Israel. But there has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, U.N. bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation of right hand and left foot. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records. It is demonization of the Jewish state.... [28] (

According to Lawrence H. Summers, the current president of Harvard University, "The United Nations-sponsored World Conference on Racism - while failing to mention human rights abuses in China, Rwanda, or anyplace in the Arab world - spoke of Israel's policies prior to recent struggles under the Barak government as constituting ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The NGO declaration at the same conference was even more virulent." [29] (

Jewish reactions

The Anti-Defamation League stated that: "The events of September 11, the American campaign against terrorism and the Palestinian intifada against Israel have created a dangerous atmosphere in the Middle East and Europe, one that 'gives anti-Semitism and hate and incitement a strength and power of seduction that it has never before had in history.'"

Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky has suggested that anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism can be distinguished from legitimate criticism of Israel if it fails the "3D" test, as follows:

  • The first D is the test of demonization... Jews were demonized for centuries as the embodiment of evil. Therefore, today we must be wary of whether the Jewish state is being demonized by having its actions blown out of all sensible proportion. For example, the comparisons of Israelis to Nazis and of the Palestinian refugee camps to Auschwitz... can only be considered anti-Semitic.
  • The second D is the test of double standards. For thousands of years a clear sign of anti-Semitism was treating Jews differently than other peoples, from the discriminatory laws many nations enacted against them to the tendency to judge their behavior by a different yardstick. Similarly, today we must ask whether criticism of Israel is being applied selectively... It is anti-Semitism, for instance, when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while tried and true abusers like China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria are ignored. Likewise, it is anti-Semitism when Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among the world's ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross.
  • The third D is the test of delegitimation. In the past, anti-Semites tried to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, or both. Today, they are trying to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state, presenting it, among other things, as the last vestige of colonialism. While criticism of an Israeli policy may not be anti-Semitic, the denial of Israel's right to exist is always anti-Semitic. If other peoples have a right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people have a right to live securely in their homeland.[30] (


Many writers have questioned whether there really is any new anti-Semitism. They see the talk of the new anti-Semitism as merely a ploy to delegitimize pro-Palestian viewpoints.

Noam Chomsky

Perhaps the best known proponent of such views is the Jewish anarchist Noam Chomsky. He maintains that the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups see legitimate criticism of Israeli policies as examples of new anti-Semitism while turning a blind eye to blatant examples of traditional anti-Semitism.

In 1988, there was much publicity when it was discovered that there were several known anti-Semites in high positions in the Republican Party. The New Republic argued in an editorial that the discovery of "seven aging Eastern European fascists in the Republican apparatus" really wasn't the threat it was made out to be. Their form of anti-Semitism was merely traditional bigotry without an agenda. The New Republic saw a greater threat in the anti-Semitism of the left, which had a salient agenda: "the delegimitization of the Jewish national movement". In his book Necessary Illusions ( and subsequent writings, Chomsky saw this as an example of how the real anti-Semitism was ignored while criticism of Israel was vilified. This was his conclusion:

Thus for The New Republic, the discovery of unreconstructed Nazis in high places in a Republican Party that was then considered to "support Israel" was a minor matter; Nazism, Holocaust denial, hatred of Jews are only "antique and anemic forms of anti-Semitism," The New Republic explained, in contrast to the serious stuff: the "Jew-hatred" in the Democratic Party [...].[31] (

Brian Klug

Brian Klug, in an article written for The Nation in 2004 [32] (, argues that while we should be concerned with the recent rise in anti-Semitic events including violence against Jews, anti-Jewish graffiti, and talk of Jewish led conspiracy plots, these do not as a whole represent some new or more virulent form of anti-Semitism but simply a revival of the old anti-Semitism. He believes that in reality, the claim of there being a new anti-Semitism is really a code-word for including anti-Zionism in anti-Semitism; he argues that anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitic. He notes that Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has stated "The harsh but undeniable truth is this: what some like to call anti-Zionism is, in reality, anti-Semitism—always, everywhere, and for all time....Therefore, anti-Zionism is not a politically legitimate point of view but rather an expression of bigotry and hatred", and argues that supporters of this comparison, such as Foxman and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, are making a false claim that all Jews are Zionists and thus unfairly linking all forms of anti-Zionism as automatically anti-Semitic. He goes on to suggests that the concept of new anti-Semitism is being used by some to unfairly silence many legitimate critics of Israel. He suggest that line between legitimate and anti-Semitic criticism of Israel is being drawn by many supporters of Israel in such a way as to rule out any criticism beyond a rap across the Israeli government's knuckles or a finger wagging at the laws of its land. Thus, in his view, criticisms of Israel are too often labeled anti-Semitic without regard to the true motivations of the critic or whether the facts support the critics claims. He says that to argue that hostility towards Israel and hostility towards Jews as being one and the same is equating Israel with Jewry, an equation he rejects. He does not claim there is never a connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism but that it is usually only one potential ingredient in a complex situation and not the engine that drives most anti-Zionism. He takes issue with the claim by some supporters of Israel that criticism of Israel that is unbalanced and intemperate is automatically anti-Semitic. He argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a bitter struggle with complex issues, inflamed passions, and suffering on both sides. Thus, partisans on both sides are liable to cross the line at times. He says that one cannot assume that when either side crosses the line that it is necessarily motivated by anti-Semitism, racism, or Islamophobia, though for some that may indeed be the case.

Michael Neumann

Michael Neumann, a Jewish professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, shared similar views in his Counterpunch article "Criticism of Israel is not Anti-Semitism." [33] ( He is critical of how the term anti-Semitism is being applied these days. He says that too often criticism of Israel is being wrongly labeled anti-Semitic. He believes anti-Semitism should be defined as hatred of Jews for what they are and not what they do. Thus criticizing Jews for simply being a Jew or applying anti-Semitic stereotypes to them would be anti-Semitic but not, say, criticizing the Jewish community for failing to hold Israel accountable for its actions. He believes it is important to separate the Israeli government from the Israeli people and the Jewish Israelis from Jews as a whole, since Israel does not represent all Jews and the Israeli government does not represent the views of all Israelis. Thus criticism of the Israeli government and its actions is never the same as criticizing all Jews or even simply all Israelis.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Another area of activity condemned as anti-Semitic is the boycotting of Israeli companies or companies that profit from dealing with Israel. Pro-Palestinian Jews such as Jewish Voice for Peace say that they:

...absolutely reject the accusation that general divestment or boycott campaigns are inherently anti-Semitic. The Israeli government is a government like any other, and condemning its abuse of state power, as many of its own citizens do quite vigorously, is in no way the same as attacking the Jewish people. [34] (

See also


  • The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It, Phyllis Chessler, Jossey-Bass, 2003
  • Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism by Abraham Foxman, HarperSanFrancisco, 2003
  • A New Antisemitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain, Ed. Paul Iganski and Barry Kosmin. Profile Books, 2003
  • Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory Deborah Lipstadt, 1994, Penguin
  • The Return of Anti-Semitism, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Encounter Books, 2003
  • Why the Jews? The Reasons for Antisemitism Revised Edition.Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, Simon & Schuster, 2003
  • Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, Robert S. Wistrich. Pantheon Books, 1992.

Further reading


  • Rosenbaum, Ron. Editor. (2004). Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism. Random House. ISBN 0812972031
  • Taguieff, Pierre-André. (2002). La nouvelle judéophobie (Editions mille et une nuits) ISBN 2842056507. Translated in English as:Rising From the Muck : The New Anti-Semitism in Europe. Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1566635713
  • Taguieff, Pierre-André. (2001). The force of prejudice: on racism and its doubles. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816623724


  • Greenspan, Miriam. (Nov-Dec 2003). "The New Anti-Semitism". Tikkun 18:6. p. 33.

External links


Organizations and forums whose stated aim is to fight anti-Semitism

Articles about the new anti-Semitism



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