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    Resurgent antisemitism – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why is there a resurgence of antisemitism?

    jude anti semitismA. In theory it is connected with Israel.

    It is customary to say that antisemitism was once religious but has now become secular. Like all generalisations this view does not entirely accord with the facts.

    “Secular” Jew-hatred and teaching of contempt for Jews existed in the time of Tacitus and Seneca before Christianity arose with its resentment of Jewish rejection of Jesus, though religious antisemitism released a Jew from persecution by means of baptism.

    Modern secular antisemitism emerged in Germany in the 1870s, though it did not displace religious antisemitism, which continues in a more polite guise than before. Modern antisemitism, which even attracted scientists and philosophers, alleged that Jews had negative traits which were evil and could only be eliminated by eliminating the Jews.

    In parallel, supposed negative characteristics of Israel associated with alleged suppression of Palestinians and so-called settlements are claimed by the antisemites to imperil the Middle East and the world, and can only be removed by removing or at least weakening Israel. Quite irrational, since Israel was being criticised long before the Palestinian issue or the creation of “settlements” were on the agenda.

    Why is Israel attacked? Because it is a Jewish State, and supposed “Jewish” traits govern its policies and actions…

    Antisemitism will not easily disappear. At times it is quiescent, but then it rears its head again.

    Jewish self-destruction or abasement solve nothing. The Jewish response must be creative – more Jewish identity and Jewish commitment.

    The whole world must educate towards tolerance and eradicate hatred, suspicion, demonisation and prejudice, not as a favour to Jews but out of world self-interest. If Jews and Judaism are not safe, neither is any religion or ideology. If synagogues are not safe, neither are churches or mosques.

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