When I began reading Professor Phyllis Chesler's updated book "The New Anti-Semitism", I seemed to hear a collective sigh saying "this hasn't come a minute too soon." And thanks to the excellent research and prophetic analysis of the acclaimed author, lecturer and activist, the reader is afforded the necessary context and perspective with which to understand the invidious phenomenon of contemporary Jew hatred.
Originally written over a decade ago, Chesler's premise was and still is that classical anti-Semitism as espoused by such nihilists and evil madmen as Hitler and the scores that preceded him has now been deemed to be "politically correct" by the trendy denizens of Western academia and the "intellectual" crowd.
Chesler was among the first to have seen and denounced the suicidal alliance between Western intelligentsia and fundamental Islam. The anti-Semite needed a new and more acceptable veneer and the tiny place on the globe known as Israel could serve as the perfect cover. So Zionism does not equal racism, but anti-Zionism does. In fact, it is part of what makes the new anti-Semitism "new."
The al Aqsa intifada and the traumatic events of 9/11 served as the impetus for Dr. Chesler, as she drew a correlation between the kind of terrorism that had become endemic to the state of Israel and the Jihadic terrorism that was let loose upon the world. "War and a new kind of anti-Semitism had been declared," she writes.
In the decades prior to 9/11 and the advent of al Qaeda, Chesler was acutely aware of the festering increasingly ubiquitous anti-Semitism and details major events that she personally encountered during her years as part of the vanguard of the second wave feminist movement. The reader can palpably feel the resentment she encountered from those who championed the "politically correct" cause against Israel, now known as liberalism.
Always sensing a strong undercurrent of such bigotry in the various human rights movements that had cometo define her raison d'etre, Chesler is most disheartened when women's conferences and forums such as Copenhagen are hijacked by Jew hating agendas. She justifiably laments the fact that some important conferences are cancelled because of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias. "Women, you see, cannot be accused of racism - unless, of course, they are Jewish women," she sardonically writes.
The Palestinian uprising has increasingly been seen as the uprising of all oppressed peoples against their colonial oppressors, that is, Jews, Zionists and Americans.
Because Chesler is keenly aware that anti-Semitism may start with the Jews but never ends with the Jews, she makes the logical connection between the opprobrium that is harbored for both America and Israel by those who assign the blame for all forms of human oppression to colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism. "The Palestinian uprising has increasingly been seen as the uprising of all oppressed peoples against their colonial oppressors, that is, Jews, Zionists and Americans," she observes.
And, she notes, few understand that it is Muslim history that is replete with imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, gender and religious apartheid, and slavery. Only the post enlightenment Judeo-Christian West is cast as the mighty sinners.
Chesler's meticulous research is evident as she explores the genesis of post 9/11 Islamic terrorism specifically directed against the West and its global interests in her compelling, easy to read and free flowing style,.
Israel is now viewed as "the little Satan" by the retinue of pro-Palestinian apologists and their Western lackeys and Chesler takes the Big Lies and bold propaganda to task by exposing their motives. Case in point: The unfortunate Mohammed Dura incident and the use of "fauxtography" are given more than an ample dose of sunlight as she reveals how one of the most egregious anti-Israel hoaxes was sold to the public.
While reading this book, one digests a seemingly endless litany of horrifying anti-Israel and anti-Jewish events at university campuses that took place in the first decade of the new century and then, shockingly, reads on to realize how much worse they are today. The BDS movement and physical and verbal violence against pro-Israel Jewish students have gained a dangerous degree of momentum, power and economic viability in many institutions of higher learning.
Chesler cites the palpable but surreal bellicosity that has become an endemic part of campus life for Jews who wish to express pro-Israel sentiments. Physical attacks, heckling of speakers, academic boycotts, incendiary street theater predicated on distortions, the lies being promulgated at the annual Jew roasting, better known as "Israel apartheid week" and the infinite amount of Orwellian rhetoric being circulated in every facet of academic life are just a few. "The New McCarthyism on campus consists of the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian point of view. No other view will be tolerated," she writes.
Chesler is under no illusions and does not attempt to sugarcoat the obvious. European anti-Semitism is at pre-World War II levels, she asserts, and the flames of destruction are being consistently fanned not only by the "usual suspects" but by the formidable fourth estate. The European media "have continuously held Israel accountable for Palestinian terrorism, and justified human homicide bombing as a function of Palestinian 'despair'."
This book is easy to read yet it is filled with a voluminous amount of facts drawn from concrete and verifiable data. What causes the words to leap off the pages, however, and to embed themselves in our collective psyches are the nuanced and urbane analyses proffered both by Chesler and by an extensive array of experts. Frightening as it may be, they provide us with the kind of perspective we need to tackle anti-Semitic diatribes.
Professor. Chesler cautions us to grant this matter the gravitas it deserves and not to dismiss it out of hand. In the expanded last chapters of the book she prodigiously confronts the Big Lies and blood libels as she challenges the sheer mendacity of pseudo and lethal Palestinian narratives in ways that are both comprehensible and thought-provoking.
On an uplifting note she provides us with ways in which each of us can support Israel and Judaism, through economic empowerment against boycotts of Israeli products and through development of community and college based pro-Israel programs connecting with individual Israelis to make them part of our families.
Chesler has stumbled upon what may be the most important component in staying afloat as a people as we navigate the turbulent tide of anti-Semitism. She writes: "Dare I say it? I must. I implore Jews to stop fighting with each other. Even if we disagree, we must try to do so respectfully, soulfully....We are an eternal people engaged in an eternal struggle with evil."
Definitely words to heed.
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