Conference: 21st Century Antisemitism
12–13 September 2022
See the latest programme of the conference here [pdf]. This is a living document and is still liable to change. Please always find the programme here, via this link.
Please check this new draft carefully, because panels you are presenting in, or chairing, may have changed.
The LCSCA Launch on Sunday 11th:
We are sorry to say that our big launch event, which was due to be a festival of lectures, conversation, drama, comedy and music to celebrate our new Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, was cancelled, in line with the cancellation of all public events in London this weekend.
To see our email that announced and explained that decision, follow this link.
Follow this link for more details about the event that had to be cancelled.
You can still register to join us on Monday and/or Tuesday here.
The academic panels, Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 September:
Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford St, London WC1N 1EH
Starting sharp at 09.00
For more information…
For more information see this letter from David Hirsh to conference participants on:
Participants are not expected to produce written papers
They are welcome to distribute written papers or publish them on our, or their own website
Our agenda is very full, nobody has been left out, so presentations will be limited to ten or fifteen minutes; all colleagues, and Chairs, will have to be succinct and disciplined, and adhere to the norms of academic discourse.
This is a face to face conference; we are not making it possible to attend remotely; but we will video some sessions an panels an they will be published later.
See the letter for more details, here.
We had a question about the dress code at the conference dinner. The answer? Genuinely, wear what you like! Dress up, dress down. We really mean it.
A note about videoing and photography at the conference
Any part of the conference: the launch, panels, papers and the dinner may be videoed for later publication by the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, which will own the copyright. We will also have a photographer working in the sessions and in the social spaces of the conference, and participants may appear in photographs, the copyright of which will be owned by the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.
Please, if you have any special reservations, wishes or needs with respect to video or photographic publication of the conference, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to discuss your concerns.
Travel and accommodation arrangements
Ellis Rosen is the partner travel agent of this LCSCA conference. Please contact him for help or advice relating to travel. He is negotiating some group deals with hotels so he might be able to get some good prices. He can also help with things like theatre and football tickets in London. Contact Ellis Rosen via this page or email email@example.com
Please get in touch if you need anything:
Jo De Guia, organiser: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martine Hayes, admin: email@example.com
Abstracts and Bios
Adam LevickAnti-Racism and Antisemitism
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that Critical Race Theory (CRT), whilst not intrinsically antisemitic, follows a pattern of thought about race and racism which erases antisemitism, and can lead to antisemitic outcomes.
Race is the locus of power in the CRT worldview, which posits a moral binary holding that white people manipulate language and history, promote the “false” idea of racial progress and employ ‘colour-blind notions of equal treatment’ in order to maintain their dominance over all spheres of society.
In addition to the fact that Jews have generally flourished in societies where such liberal principles (the veneration and codification of individual as opposed to group rights, which are protected via the neutral application of laws), when a movement posits a theory of justice based narrowly on which groups have power and which groups don’t, Jews – due to their relative success – will inevitably be branded as powerful and deemed complicit in injustice within this paradigm.
I will illustrate how ‘dumbed-down’ versions of CRT in the media and in pouplar books (such as Ibram X Kendi’s “How to be an anti-racist” and Robin DiAngleo’s “White Fragility”) solidify the idea of Jews as white, or even “hyper-white”, and promote the belief that racial disparities in educational, social and economic outcomes are, by definition, evidence of systemic racism – bigotry that, in their rejection of liberalism, must be combated by ‘anti-racist’ discrimination against ‘whites’ (including Jews) to ameliorate unequal outcomes.
I live in Israel and am co-editor of CAMERA UK. I previously worked as a researcher at NGO Monitor and, prior to that, at the Civil Rights Division of the Anti-Defamation League. I’ve had op-eds published in numerous Jewish and non-Jewish publications and have published longer papers at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs on “Antisemitism in Progressive Blogs” and “Antisemitic Cartoons in Progressive Blogs”. I was previously a member of the Online Antisemitism Working Group for the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism.
Adi SchwartzThe Adas Affair – A Case Study of Antisemitism in Iraq
Shafiq Adas, considered the wealthiest Jew in Iraq, was hanged in front of cheering crowds outside his Basra mansion on September 23, 1948, after a kangaroo court found him guilty of treason and aiding the “Zionist enemy.” His brutal execution and public humiliation sent shockwaves through the millennia-old Jewish community in Iraq, and was mentioned together with the 1941 pogrom of the Farhud as one of the main reasons for the hurried 1950-1951 Jewish exodus from Iraq. The paper presents Adas’ Dreyfus-like affair and its significance – the deliberate targeting of a prominent Jew as a scapegoat by the government. Adas personified both the opportunities and the problems of his age, and his personal story, therefore, represents a collective biography of an entire community. His mock trial and death sentence signified the tragic end of the possibility for Jews to live as proud and equal Iraqi citizens – a hope that many Jews had until then. It is indeed no coincidence that practically in every memoir written by Iraqi Jews, the trial and death of Adas is mentioned as a traumatic event. Every Iraqi Jew, in Israel or the Diaspora, is familiar with the story. It is the opening scene of Eli Amir’s classic The Dove Flyer (Mafri’ah Ha’yonim), which portrays the last days of the Jewish community in Iraq. The significance of Adas’ story cannot be overestimated.
Adi Schwartz is a researcher, lecturer and author, focusing on issues relating to Jewish and Israeli history, and to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the co-author, together with Dr. Einat Wilf, of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace (St. Martin’s Press, 2020).
Schwartz is an expert on two of his main research topics – the history of Jews from Arab countries and the Palestinian refugee problem. He wrote his PhD dissertation at the department of Political Studies in Bar-Ilan University on the Arab-Israeli conflict (confirmation expected June 2022). He holds a BA in History from Tel Aviv University, and an MA (with distinction) in Political Studies from Bar-Ilan University. He is a Fellow at the Center for International Communications in Bar-Ilan University and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP).
ADL PanelAt the intersection of research and action: thinking about antisemitism with the ADL
Abstract & Bios
Building an Applied International Research Agenda: what we learned from the Global 100 and how that has informed our research.
Dr. Nazarian, senior vice president of international affairs, will discuss the key contributions investments in research make to the ADL’s global efforts. She’ll also offer examples for the need to develop more culturally sensitive and specific measures of antisemitism.
Operationalizing theories of antisemitism: how we manage the tension in relation to the antisemitism audit
Mr. Tuchman, the associate director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, will discuss the ways in which theories of antisemitism inform the annual audit of incidents, where they contribute and where they need further development.
Conceiving antisemitism: how do we think about antisemitism at the ADL and how is that evolving
Mr. Khaykin, national director of antisemitism programs, will offer an inside view into the theories of antisemitism, critical questions, and key interests the ADL has in developing its understanding of global antisemitism.
Matt Williams, Chair
Dr. Williams is the inaugural vice president of antisemitism research at the ADL. Previously, he was the founding director of the center for communal research at the OU and the managing director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive. At the ADL, he aims to enhance the network of scholars studying antisemitism around the world with omnibus empirical projects, fellowships, awards, working groups, and conferences that deepen theoretical and applied insight into the enduring phenomenon.
Dr Anna ZawadzkaThe long-term aftermath: the memory of the 1967–68 antisemitic campaign and anti-Zionism in Poland today
This paper will start with a brief outline on the state-organized
antisemitic campaign 1967-1968, as a result of which about 15 thousand
people emigrated from Poland. Nest, i will explore the content and the
social functions of the memory about the campaign over half a century
later: on the one hand, how antisemitism tends to be downplayed by
some narratives, and, on the other hand, how Poland’s history of
antisemitism is being reduced merely to this particular moment.
Nowadays, while anti-Zionism is not as widespread in academic circles
as in North America or Western Europe, there are patterns of radical
criticism of Israel among the social movements. These patterns seem to
be fuelled by two tendencies. (1) Poland’s semi-peripherality and
imitative modernisation that make Western intellectual ideas
attractive and legitimate by the very status of their sources
(prestigious universities and outlets), and their absorption by
progressive academics and activists is often uncritical. (2) Ignorance
or purposeful marginalisation of the significance of the local
context, i.e. the particular history of antisemitism in Poland, and
its contemporary manifestations.
Dr Anna Zawadzka is from the Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences
Anne Herzberg and Joshua KernThe Role of UN Human Rights Mechanisms in the Delegitimization of Zionism through the Charge of Apartheid
The United Nations has played a significant role in legitimising and disseminating the apartheid charge against Israel. In the 1960s and 70s, Arab States and the Soviet bloc inserted the claim in their General Assembly statements and resolutions. Since 2001, however, the calumny has been adopted by the UN human rights architecture – most prominently by UN Special Rapporteurs and the UN Treaty Bodies. In part due to extensive NGO campaigning responding to the call of three UN Special Rapporteurs, in 2022, there will be at least three (and possibly four or even five) reports issued by UN human rights bodies branding Israel as an apartheid regime for policies that form the essence of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. In other words, the very notion of Israel as a Jewish state is likely to be officially characterized by the UN, as it already has been by multiple human rights NGOs, as a crime against humanity.
This paper will examine the UN apartheid campaign with particular focus on the 2022 UN publications. It will analyse the legal and political construction of the apartheid charge and compare the framing of the allegation against Israel with how it is employed in other global conflict situations. It will explore the discourse employed and how it relates to both the old and new antisemitism. The paper will offer assessments as to how this campaign reflects on the ability of UN human rights mechanisms to address antisemitism and protect Jewish self-determination. This paper is part of an on-going research project by the presenters.
Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor of the Institute for NGO Research. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University Law School. Her areas of research include international human rights law, the laws of armed conflict, NGOs, and the UN. She is the author of the widely cited NGO Lawfare: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict and co-author of Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-finding. Anne’s articles and op-eds have appeared in many publications, including the American Journal of International Law, the International Criminal Law Review, Ha’aretz, the Jerusalem Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Kern is a barrister at 9 Bedford Row Chambers in London, practicing in criminal law, particularly international human rights law and international criminal law. Joshua is registered on both the International Criminal Court’s and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia’s List of Assistants to Counsel and is a Member of the American Bar Association’s International Criminal Justice Standards Advisory Group.
Annette Seidel-Arpacı and her team from RIAS Bayern, the anti-antisemitism institution in MunichAntisemitism and Multidirectional Attacks on the Memory of the Shoah
The hard-won, contradictory German remembrance culture, which is primarily a result of
pressure from survivors and liberators, is today experiencing attacks from various sides: not
only from right-wing conservatives and the extreme right, but increasingly also from circles
that consider themselves progressives. The protagonists of the newer debates, like their
predecessors, deny the unprecedentedness of the Shoah, imply a ban or taboo on
comparison with other violent crimes and genocides that does not exist, speak of a fixation
on the mass murder of European Jews that allegedly prevents Germans from adequately
coming to terms with colonial genocides. They blank out antisemitism as the core of
National Socialism, universalize the Shoah, and thereby make it possible to finally decouple
it from German national history. The so-called ‘Historikerstreit 2.0’, featuring revisionist
positions this time round from the academic and cultural ‘progressive’ camp always comes
down to hatred of Israel, as has been blatantly visible recently at the conference Hijacking
Memory in Berlin and at documenta 15. Our input will examine just how far this
development – previously not as pronounced in Germany as in the UK or the US – has
progressed and what this means in the context of antisemitic incidents documented by RIAS
and for the struggle against antisemitism.
Felix Balandat works at the Research and Information on Antisemitism Office (RIAS) Bavaria, a civil society project, with a main focus on Social Media and Public Relations. He studied European Studies with a focus on Political Science and English in Passau and Ivanovo. A trained newspaper editor, he has published articles on contemporary antisemitism in
Germany, and he also works as a city guide focusing on the history of National Socialism in
Nikolai Schreiter works at RIAS Bavaria and his main focus is on monitoring of potentially antisemitic gatherings and events. He studied in Vienna and Jerusalem and wrote his MA dissertation on the ambivalent Turn toward Israel within the Austrian FPÖ and German AfD political parties. He published, for instance, on the antiziganist projection of a 'beggar mafia' and on German reactions and projections around the Entebbe-hijacking. Forthcoming in 2022 are ‚Antisemitismus, Antizionismus und Ausnahmen: Positive Bezüge auf Israel und Zionismus von rechts in historischer Perspektive‘. In Aschkenas. Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kultur der Juden; and ‚Nicht an Israels Seite, an seiner Stelle wollen sie sein – Der Antisemitismus und ein verändertes Verhältnis von AfD und FPÖ zum jüdischen Staat. Eine psychoanalytisch inspirierte Analyse‘. In Schmidt et al (eds.): Antisemitismus zwischen Kontinuität und Adaptivität. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Geschichte, Aktualität und Prävention. Göttingen: V&R unipress, S. 243–256.
Annette Seidel-Arpacı heads RIAS Bavaria and is a member of the Board of Directors of the
Federal Association RIAS e.V. in Germany. She studied at Bradford and Leeds and received her PhD in Jewish Studies from the University of Leeds for her thesis on political and cultural negotiations of Holocaust memory against the backdrop of violent racism and antisemitism in newly reunited Germany. After academic appointments in the US and the UK, she left for Germany in 2017. Annette published, for instance, on antisemitism in popular culture/HipHop culture, on ideas of transgenerationally suffering Germans and redemptive queerness in Eytan Fox’s Lalekhet Al HaMayim/Walk on Water, on the role of W.G. Sebald’s On the Natural History of Destruction/Luftkrieg und Literatur in the context of politics of translation and debates on “German wartime suffering”. Forthcoming in 2022: ‚Von der migrantischen Selbstorganisierung der 1990er Jahre zur antirassistischen „Opferkonkurrenz“. Der multidirektionale Schlussstrich unter die Bekämpfung des Antisemitismus’. In Vojin Saša Vukadinović (ed.): Rassismus. Von der frühen Bundesrepublik bis zur Gegenwart. Berlin: de Gruyter, S. 239-372.
Balázs BerkovitsThe Critique of “White Jews” and Antizionism
The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism intends to restrict the scope of those statements that could be qualified as antisemitic by a semantic definition. This is expressed in the oft repeated formula according to which antisemitism would be hostility against Jews as Jews, which is held to be an essential semantic criterion, and would enable people to clearly distinguish statements that are deemed antisemitic from those deemed just antizionist. Sometimes this distinction reaches a conceptual level, when it is said that the concept of Israel-related antisemitism is susceptible to become too abstract and generalized, expanded or metaphorized, in contrast to the “substantial” concept of antisemitism, thereby “losing empirical relevance”.
However, there are good arguments which can establish that even the semantically restricted JDA criteria allow for Israel-related antisemitism, and specifically in the cases excluded by the JDA: Holocaust inversion, the accusation of apartheid and settler colonialism. I believe that the labeling of Jews as white is essential to understanding why so much critical attention is given to Israel and Zionism today. Indeed, the critique is far from being directed solely at Israel as such and only by extension to Jews, as the JDA construes this relationship, criticizing the IHRA definition. It is always, at least tacitly, constructed in conjunction with the critique of Jews increasingly considered as white inside their Western societies. If antizionism has become one of the most popular critical idioms, it is due to the perception of Jews as white and Israelis as white colonizers. In discourses on “Jewish whiteness,” Jews not only cease to occupy a minority position, but also come to play a role of remarkable prepotence. The concept of “whiteness” thus colonizes the “Jew,” and automatically invites criticism, thereby raising again the “Jewish question”, often with antisemitic undertones. Therefore, a direct conceptual relationship between antisemitism and antizionism (required by the JDA) can be established by examining the critique of “white Jews” being transposed to the critique of Israel as “white settler colony”; in turn, Israel’s accusatory critique reinforces hostility to Jews as (white) Jews.
Balázs Berkovits was born in Budapest, and lives in Tel Aviv. He is currently a researcher at the Stephen Roth Institute, Tel Aviv University, and at the Bucerius Institute, University of Haifa. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal K. Jews, Europe and the XXI st century.
He was trained as a philosopher and a sociologist in Hungary and France (wrote his PhD on the philosophy of Michel Foucault), and obtained a Nationalism Studies degree at Central European University, Budapest. He has published on topics related to social theory, the epistemology of the social sciences, and antisemitism. He is currently working on a study on the reemergence of the “Jewish problem” in contemporary works of philosophical, social and political criticism, and on various projects, which deal with the relationship between conspiracy theories, critique, and antisemitism. As a journalist, he occasionally writes about the political and social situation in contemporary Hungary.
Ben M FreemanSame Soup, Different Bowl
‘The same soup, different bowl’ is how a former student of mine once summarised the history and evolution of Jew-hate. Although the bowl – the outward expression of anti- Jewish racism – changes depending on the time and context, the soup – the core animus – remains the same.
Jew-hate is a never-ending story. Despite the twists and turns it takes, the plot doesn’t change. The hate we experience in the 21st century is expressed in the context of our time, but it is a manifestation of the original libels, tropes and fantasies that have been responsible for the persecution of Jews for thousands of years.
To truly understand what we face, it is imperative to grasp where this story began. From religious and racial Jew-hate to Israel-focussed prejudice, none of the seeming disparate actors involved in the persecution of the Jews deviate from the core script. They are inherently connected. The Jew is an evil force that poses a clear and present danger to the non-Jewish world and must be demonised, delegitimised and ultimately removed from society according to the prevailing zeitgeist.
Exploring this dynamic is key to understanding all forms of Jew-hate, be they ancient or contemporary.
Ben Freeman is a Jewish leader, a Jewish thinker, and a Jewish educator
Born in Scotland, Ben is a gay Jewish internationally renowned author, educator and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist focussing on Jewish identity, combatting Jew-hatred and raising awareness of the Holocaust. He came to prominence during the Corbyn Labour Jew-hate crisis and quickly became one of his generation’s leading voice against anti-Jewish racism.
He is the founder of the modern Jewish Pride movement and the author of the Jewish Pride manifesto, Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People, released in February 2021 to great international acclaim. He has since decided to create a Jewish Pride trilogy and his follow up, Jewish Pride: Reclaiming our Story is due to be released in October 2022.
As a specialist in the field for over a decade, Ben is a prominent thought-leader on Jewish education, history and identity and carries out speaking engagements all over the world. He is a trained teacher and experienced lecturer designing and facilitating unique learning experiences for both his students, the general public and global organisations. He has worked with a variety of companies from Facebook to Hollywood studios, such as The Jim Henson Company. His work also includes consulting for Emmy Award winning directors on documentary projects, such as Jews of the Wild West.
Through his work, he aims to educate, inspire and empower both Jewish and non-Jewish people from all over the world.
Ben Gidley (Achinger, Arnold and Gidley)Can there be a dialogue between critical theories of antisemitism and critical theories of racism? 3. Whiteness
Chad GoldbergFrom Multiculturalism to Antisemitism? Revisiting the Jewish Question in America
Previous scholarship suggests that American Jews have been the beneficiaries of a multicultural mode of incorporation since the 1960s. If so, what explains the recent resurgence of antisemitism in the United States? Evidence of such a resurgence is adduced in the form of increasing antisemitic incidents and changing patterns of cultural representation. The contemporary resurgence of antisemitism is then traced in part to problems of boundary definition and identity that multiculturalism generates. These problems foster anxiety within the core group about the continuing viability of its own identity and the national identity, which leads to antisemitic efforts to reestablish hierarchical boundaries that multiculturalism has obscured. The paper provides additional support for this thesis by means of a historical comparison to cultural attitudes toward Jews in the Calvinist tradition, particularly among the Puritans. Although the Puritans were not multiculturalists, their identification with Jews gave rise to similar problems of boundary definition and identity, which the Puritans resolved by redefining the boundaries of their community to exclude Jews. The paper concludes with a brief set of remarks about the relation of Jews to the civil sphere in the United States today.
Chad Alan Goldberg is Martindale-Bascom Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he is also affiliated with the George L. Mosse/Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies and the George L. Mosse Program in History. He writes about politics, history, and social theory. His award-winning books include Citizens and Paupers: Relief, Rights, and Race, from the Freedmen’s Bureau to Workfare (University of Chicago Press, 2008); Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought (University of Chicago Press, 2017); and Education for Democracy: Renewing the Wisconsin Idea (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020).
Christine Achinger (Achinger, Arnold and Gidley)Can there be a dialogue between critical theories of antisemitism and critical theories of racism? 1. Intersectionality
‘Constructions of Jewishness, race and gender in Critical Theory and intersectional approaches’
In a time when the theoretical engagement with, and the political struggle against, antisemitism, racism and discrimination along the lines of gender are increasingly hampered by deep identity-political divisions and antagonisms between different scholarly and political camps, it seems particularly important to highlight the interconnectedness of such forms of discrimination without denying their specificity. My paper attempts to approach the question which theoretical frameworks might help us understand the complex interrelations between constructions of Jewishness, race and gender without downplaying their differences in content and discursive function, but also without losing their shared social origins out of sight. Through necessarily brief references to a couple of textual case studies from German and Austrian culture in the ‘long 19th century’, I seek to illustrate that such constructions of different ‘others’ can be understood as interconnected and historically changing responses to the challenges generated by the rise of capitalist modernity. The paper highlights some of the respective merits of approaches in the tradition of Critical Theory/the Frankfurt school as opposed to intersectional approaches in analysing such common social origins, and looks for opportunities for critical dialogue between those two traditions.
Christine Achinger is Associate Professor of German Studies at the University of Warwick. Her research interests are in critical social theory, literary studies, history and theories of antisemitism, and constructions of gender, race, Jewishness and national identity and their interrelations as responses to the experience of modernity and modernisation. Her relevant publications include Distorted Faces of Modernity: Racism, Antisemitism and Islamophobia, New York: Routledge, 2015 (ed. with Robert Fine); Gespaltene Moderne. Gustav Freytags Soll und Haben – Nation, Geschlecht und Judenbild, 2007, and a broad range of articles, radio programmes and book contributions.
Claudia HassanNew and old denials on the net
During the pandemic period in common and media parlance, the term negationism referred to health negationism. The term without adjectives had previously referred only to Holocaust negationism.
On Italian and other social media, the communicative strategy used by Holocaust deniers and Covid deniers has taken the traits of conspiracy discourse. In conspiracy communication strategies, themes of modern anti-Semitism return and, more often than imagined, conspiracy reveals a hidden anti-Semitism. Negationism and conspiracy are two different aspects held together, however, by the cement of anti-Semitism.
The two phenomena have in common the construction of a highly simplified alternative interpretation of reality.
The paper investigates the spread of conspiracy and negationist theories on social media. It is evident from the data not only the assonance but a real overlap of Holocaust negationism and conspiracy theories on Covid19.
The web is the ideal environment for the dissemination of this material and even when it is taken down it finds a way out in the dark web or in closed, self-referential sites. Social network chats such as Gab and Bitchute have resulted in real cases of more than just verbal violence. The paper compares classic and web conspiracy theories.
Claudia Hassan is associate professor of Sociology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. She is Vice Director of CeRSE (Roman Centre of JewishStudies, http://cerse.uniroma2.it/) and Co-director of Trauma and Memory Journal.
Her main research interests include: the sociology of memory, Holocaust studies, anti-Semitism and internet society, gender studies (especiallyfemicide ), web and democracy.
In addition to journal articles, her publications include: Rete e democrazia (Marsilio 2010); Hurban, Shoah e rappresentazioni sociali (Libriliberi 2016) and Memoria e Shoah. Uno sguardo sociologico (Libri liberi 2012). Populism, racism and scapegoat in Clockwork enemy, Xenofobia and racism in the era of neo-populism (Mimesis International, 2020) Disinformazione e democrazia (forthcoming by Hassan-Pinelli, Marsilio 2022)
Daniel AllingtonThe Generalised Antisemitism (GeAs) scale
The Generalised Antisemitism (GeAs) scale is a 12-item questionnaire designed to measure levels of antisemitic ideation in a manner which both follows psychometric best practices and reflects the fundamental insight of the The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism, i.e. that 21st century antisemitism is often expressed in relation not to Jewish communities within the diaspora but to the world’s only Jewish state and to those with a close connection to it (which is for the most part to say, to Jewish communities within the diaspora). It was developed and extensively tested by Daniel Allington, David Hirsh, and Louise Katz, with support from Campaign Against Antisemitism. In this presentation, I will explain the scale itself, the results of tests of its validity, and the implications of those test results for our understanding of antisemitism. In particular, these results support the view that there is a single latent trait underlying both “old” and “new” antisemitism — although individuals may incline more strongly to one or to the other.
Daniel CherniloThe Jews killed Moses. Sigmund Freud, Jewish identity and antisemitism
Published soon after his death in 1939, Freud completed his last book on Moses and Monotheism while already living in exile, in London. Freud was painfully aware of the unhappy timing of this publication, given that two of the book’s main theses could be interpreted as a form of Jewish self-hatred. The first claim questions the Jewish origins of Moses and contends instead that the founder of the Jewish faith was in fact an Egyptian; the second suggests that, in order to hide this impure origin, the Jews killed Moses and then created the myth of Moses the liberator as a way of concealing their terrible deed. In In this talk, I offer three main arguments: (1) a reassessment of the reactions to Freud’s book among such leading 20th century Jewish intellectuals as Martin Buber, Leo Strauss, Erich Fromm and Hannah Arendt; (2) a reconstruction of Freud’s positive thesis that there is something uniquely syncretic in Jewish identity; (3) a critique of Freud’s essentialist thesis on the obduracy and obstinacy of antisemitism in Western culture.
Professor of Sociology, School of Government, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile
Visiting Professor of Social and Political Thought, Loughborough University, UK
Daphne DesserAntisemitism in Trauma Studies: the Shoah as “the Suffering of White Europeans”
One noteworthy example of antisemitism in contemporary trauma studies is Andermahr’s edited collection, which argues that “rather than forging relationships of empathy and solidarity with non-Western others, a narrowly Western canon of trauma literature has in effect emerged, one which privileges the suffering of white Europeans, and neglects the specificity of non-Western and minority cultural traumas… (500). In referring to the Shoah as “the suffering of white Europeans,” this collection promotes the anti-Semitic and ahistorical misrepresentation of the victims of the Shoah as “white.” Andermahr argues further that “racially based forms of trauma historically rooted in the global systems of slavery and colonialism pose a significant challenge to the Eurocentric model of trauma as a single overwhelming event” (501). In another example of ahistorical anti-Semitism, this text fails to acknowledge: first, the common ancestry of slavery, colonialism, and anti-Semitism, as they all fall within the framework of white supremacy; second, the historical connection of the Shoah to centuries of anti-Semitic violence and repression, including the pogroms and the Inquisition; and third, the complexity of the implementation of Hitler’s genocidal project and its ramifications, which included extermination camps across many years and many different geographies and cultures, with traumatic effects that extend far beyond Europe and further than one generation.
Daphne Desser is Associate Professor of English at the University of Hawaiʻi, and as such is relatively well-versed in the discourses of decolonization. She specializes in rhetoric, Jewish identity, autobiographical writing, and Holocaust studies. Dr. Desser has published on her great-grandfather, Mordecai Ben-Ami, a writer and journalist who immigrated to Tel Aviv in the 1920s. He was a committee member of Hovevai Zion and a delegate to the first Zionist Congress in 1897. She is a 2021 recipient of the Schusterman Center’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies fellowship. Drawing on her father’s experience as a childhood escapee from the Shoah in Amsterdam, she has published on the memoirs of second and third generation Holocaust survivors. She served as a speaker for “Americans and the Holocaust,” a touring library exhibition sponsored by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association in February, 2022. Representative of her current research is her forthcoming article, “My Mother is a Sabra and Other Inconvenient Truths” and the recently published “Public Memory, Memoir, and the Shoah: Narrating Family and Inherited Trauma.”
Andermahr, Sonya, editor. Decolonizing Trauma Studies: Trauma and Postcolonialism. MDPI, 2016.
Dave RichThe significance of David Miller and the campaign against his Antisemitism
Professor David Miller was sacked by Bristol University in October 2021 following over two years of complaints about his teaching, which positioned “Zionism” as a central node, and a key financier, of global Islamophobia. Since his sacking, Miller’s public descriptions of Zionism have broadened into a holistic conspiracy theory that reaches far beyond academia. He reduces the Jewish diaspora to a network of pro-Israel entities; he considers the entire British anti-racist movement to be “contaminated” by Zionism because of the involvement of Jewish organisations like CST, or Jewish-adjacent ones like Searchlight. He argues that Jewish journalists are “Zionist infiltrators” working on behalf of Israel and that the music industry is in a Zionist “stranglehold”. The conspiracy fantasy that Miller pushes on Iran’s Press TV is functionally similar to that which Henry Ford sought to popularize in the ‘Dearborn Independent’. Yet he is not an outlier. The ‘Support Miller’ website bears the signatures of hundreds of academics and notable people on the left, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website still carries a message in his support. This paper will examine Miller’s conspiracist view of Zionism in the context of his other political positions, especially in relation to Syria and Ukraine, and asks: is he a lone crank, or is he merely saying out loud what others keep to themselves?
David NewmanWho is Afraid of the Y Word? The Debate Surrounding Tottenham Yids and Antisemitism
Tottenham Hotspur football club in North London are also known by many of their fans as the Tottenham Yids. This term is partly used because of the large proportion of Jewish supporters of the team. It has been used by supporters since the 1980’s and is perceived, by home supporters, including many Jewish supporters of the team, as being an affectionate use of the word “Yid” and even one that makes the term more acceptable amongst the general public. This is in contrast to the wider perception of the term as being anti-Semitic and as an agent of legitimacy, especially when used by supporters of opposing teams. For over ten years a debate has raged whether the term is acceptable or should cease to be used. This has become even more sensitive in recent years against the backdrop of growing anti-Semitism In Britain. A recent survey of Tottenham fans initiated by the club has suggested that the majority of respondents agree that the term, is either directly anti-Semitic or, at the very least, has opened the door and legitimized its use by groups who have an anti-Semitic agenda. Both the club owners and the police authorities would like to prevent the term being used but this, in turn, is opposed by the tens of thousands of fans who insist on chanting it during games.
This paper will trace the debate around the use and legitimization of the Tottenham Yid term against the background of concerted campaigns throughout the world of sport to stamp out any form of racism. This has been largely successful regarding anti-Black racism which was common in the 1970’s and 1980’s and, it is argued, should extend to all other forms of language which can be interpreted as being negative towards any ethnic or religious minority. The paper will briefly address the question as to whether a ban on the use of the Tottenham Yid term could be effectively implemented or whether, by contrast, it results in even more fans using the term in an act of defiance – including some of the Jewish supporters of the club.
Professor David Newman is professor of Geopolitics, and former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. In 2013 he was award the OBE for promoting scientific cooperation between Israel and the UK, especially against the background of the BDS campaign aimed at the Israeli scientific community. For the purpose of this paper, it should be mentioned that he is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur and has previously published a number of short articles on the topic of the term “Tottenham Yid”.
Derek SpitzAmnesty International’s Epistemic Malevolence and the Indifference of Metaphor
Amnesty International published its Report charging Israel with apartheid in February 2022. In a rivalrous and dispiriting game of trumps amongst human rights NGOs, Amnesty is pleased to say that its unique selling point is its conclusion that Israel always was and remains apartheid, everywhere, over every Palestinian, wherever they are, all the time, and from the very beginning.
This paper makes three main arguments. First, it provides an analysis of the meaning Amnesty tries to give to the legal definition of the crime of apartheid, to show that it is impermissibly expansionist, inconsistent with the principle of legality that applies in international criminal law, and therefore legally invalid.
Second, it shows that Amnesty deploys a spurious logic of equation that works in the field of metaphor. Metaphors are often useful in ideological conflicts. They provide a mechanism to transfer the emotional charge or affect usually associated with one thing onto something else. The transfer is often a misappropriation or a theft of affect. And too much metaphor can obscure reality, history and truth, becoming a useful vehicle for propaganda.
Third, it suggests that both Amnesty’s expansionist approach to the legal definition and its use of a spurious metaphorical equation – Israel is apartheid – are, together, a form of epistemic malevolence, which manifests an opposition to, or insufficient concern for, knowledge and truth, relative to other concerns, such as ideological or political ones.
Derek Spitz is a commercial and competition law barrister practising at One Essex Court, London. He advises on issues and acts in cases concerning antisemitism. He acted for the originating complainant, Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), in the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into Antisemitism in the Labour Party, and for a group of students in proceedings against the University of Bristol for harassment and breach of contract arising out of statements made by Professor David Miller, supported by CAA. His recent articles on antisemitism, “On Not Being among Friends: Some Observations on the Political Mind Seminar “`Psychoanalysis and Palestine-Israel: Further Thoughts” and “In the House of the Hangman One should Not mention the Noose: Jewish Voice for Labour’s Attack on the Equality and Human Rights Commission” have been published in the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism. He has also co-edited and co-written Constitutional Law of South Africa (1st edition), a leading work on South African Constitutional Law.
Elke RajalAntisemitic conspiracy myths in (different) times of crisis
There has probably never been a crisis, be it a financial, migration, health or climate crisis, that has not spawned conspiracy myths about supposed winners and losers. Conspiracy myths take on special significance and power in times of social crisis – or in times that are individually perceived as crisis-ridden. The myth of the Jewish world conspiracy – in open, modernised or codified form – is a particularly widespread one. But can it be assumed that all crises give rise to antisemitism in the same way? And do the forms of articulation of antisemitism differ depending on the area of crisis?
The lecture will focus on antisemitic discourses around the responsibility for 21st century crisis
phenomena concentrating on the German-speaking world. To this end, examples will be drawn from the discourses on the financial crisis in 2008, the migration crisis in 2015, the Covid crisis since 2020 and the current climate crisis. A comparative approach to the antisemitic articulations in the various crises will be pursued.
Elke Rajal studied political science in Vienna (Austria) and Granada (Spain) and currently works at the Chair of Sociology (Karin Stoegner) at the University of Passau. She is mainly concerned with the intersections of politics, contemporary history and education and is involved in the Austria-based research group Ideologies and Politics of Inequality (FIPU). Her research focuses on National Socialism and its aftermath, antisemitism, right-wing extremism and political education.
Emma PoultonExamining Antisemitism among Jewish Supporters of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League is internationally recognised as a ‘Jewish club’, despite no formal affiliation. This perception originates from Tottenham traditionally attracting Jewish supporters due to the club’s proximity to north London’s Jewish communities who settled there in early 1900s and second wave during the 1930s and 1940s as they fled persecution in Russia and Europe. Tottenham also has a history of Jewish ownership. This quasi ‘Jewish identity’ has led to their supporters being the target of antisemitic discourse by some opposition fans in songs, chants and social media. In their most noxious form, these reference Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust/Shoah, and are accompanied by hissing sounds to simulate the noise of the Nazi gas chambers.
During the 1970s, many Tottenham supporters – Jews and non-Jewish – began to respond to their othering by appropriating the pejorative word ‘Yid’ as a mark of in-group solidarity and camaraderie and chanting it back at their abusers. Since then, more and more Tottenham fans have embraced the taboo term and use the sobriquet ‘Yid Army’ as a self-referent and ‘badge of honour’ in an apparent attempt to deflect the antisemitic abuse and help defuse its power as an insult through their own songs and chants. This is not without controversy and much public debate.
This paper is informed by the findings from 39 semi-structured interviews conducted with Jewish supporters of Tottenham Hotspur in an attempt to understand and explain their experiences of antisemitism within the context of football juxtaposed to wider society. The interviews with Jewish Tottenham fans provide rich narrative detail about the social and cultural meanings that they attach to being Jewish and being a Tottenham fan, their everyday interactions and routine practices, and their personal definitions and experiences of antisemitism.
Eric HeinzeJews and the Left: What Would ‘Critical Antisemitism Studies’ Look Like?
Contemporary critical theory draws upon many perspectives, but its exponents widely agree on some key points. For example, critical theorists insist that collective self-reflection remains imperative within societies that proclaim the values of liberal democracy. Accordingly, we cannot explain liberal democracy solely by citing its own proclaimed ideals of human dignity, individual freedom, civic equality, and the rule of law. Rather, we must emphasize how those ideals have been manipulated and betrayed throughout histories of classism, colonialism, racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other repressive hierarchies. Critical theory starts by acknowledging those injustices in an intellectual posture but it cannot end there, since sheer acknowledgments would recapitulate illusions of Enlightenment-liberal humanism that critical theory seeks to challenge. Instead, inherent to public self-reflection is the postulate that intellectuals must actively disseminate public awareness about liberal democracies’ repressive histories. The problem is that, in taking account of repressive histories within leftism, critical theory has stopped at the step of sheer intellectual acknowledgment, insofar as it lacks any campaigns of public awareness about those histories. That neglect places Jews in a quandary insofar as leftist antisemitism figures chiefly among these neglected histories. This presentation will consider what critical theory must become if it is to take those histories into account.
Gerald SteinbergNGOs and Antisemitism
In this paper, I will examine the roles and the factors behind the agendas of influential non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claiming to promote human rights, with respect to 21st century antisemitism, with particular emphais on UK-based groups. The analysis will focus on two parallel dimensions: 1) The notable absence of NGO reports, campaigns or recognition of the increase in antisemitism, and 2) the NGO contribution to new antisemitism (singling out and demonization of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.) Through the analytical frameworks developed by Wistrich, Rosenfeld, Hirsh, Julius and others, as well as the literature on advocacy and the power of civil society organisations, the paper will analyze the claims, partnerships and impacts in different arenas, such as the media, UN, parliament and political frameworks (including links to Corbyn), and academia. The time frame goes from the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN Durban conference, (and the launch BDS), and continues through the NGO-led campaign labeling Israel as an apartheid state. UK-based organisations to be examined include Amnesty International, War on Want, Christian Aid, Save the Children, MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians), and CAABU (Council for Arab-British Understanding).
PhD, Cornell University; Professor of Political Science Bar Ilan University; founder and president of the Institute for NGO Research; participant in ISCA conferences, Indiana University; Halifax International Security Forum since 2016. Published in academic journals, Fathom, ISCA volumes on Antisemitism (edited by Alvin Rosenfeld); and books – Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding (co-author), Nijhoff, 2012; Menachem Begin and the Israel-Egypt Peace Process: Between Ideology and Political Realism, 2019.
Gilbert Kahn21st Century Antisemitism in America—The Threat From the Right
Jews in America are facing Antisemitism from both the political left as well as the right. More and more groups and individuals across the political spectrum are expressing and acting in ways that communicate irrational hatred of Jews. The seriousness of the actions as well as the threats against Jews and the depth of prejudice and intolerance has grown dramatically over the past several years. Unquestionably, particularly with the growth of some members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, there has been an increased concern with left-wing Antisemitism motivated by anti-Zionism and pro-Palestinian politics merged with the BDS movement. It is, however, the long-standing Jewish hatred on the right, which it will be argued, is a greater threat to America Jews than the incipient movement on the left.
For the first time in decades, Jews are actually scared to attend services and to exhibit outward identification as Jews; something that historically American Jews associated with a period prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. This paper will address the growing problem of Antisemitism in the U.S. with a specific focus on the threat for Jews coming from the right. It will demonstrate that while the recent rise of left-wing Antisemitism has garnered much attention, it is the deep-seated hostility from the right reappearing today which poses a more serious threats to Jews than what is essentially an anti-Israel mantra.
This study will address what as well are some of the most effective ways to reduce this persistent hatred. It will consider geographic distinctions, ethnic differences, and socio-economic deviations. Which political party and members are the most genuinely sensitive and aware of the threat? Which political leaders are prepared to pursue an agenda to combat Antisemitism? What can the Governments do reduce the fear that many Jews feel even about attending services? Are Governments prepared to pay the price to provide the long-term security necessary to ensure Jews will be protected and not intimidated?
Professor Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. His academic interests concentrate on U.S. decision-making in foreign policy in the Middle East. His recent work has also included issues including how the Holocaust influences decision-making and decision-makers, as well as the politics in responses to contemporary anti-Semitism.
Dr. Kahn’s research has been appeared in both scholarly and journalistic publications. His most recent article, “Orthodox Jews and Trump” appeared in volume entitled The Impact of Donald Trump on American Jewry and Israel, (ed.by Dr. Steven Windmueller) published by Purdue University Press. He also has an article co-authored by Professor Pinchas Giller in a forthcoming volume being published by the American Jewish University, entitled “The Pandemic and Orthodox Jews.” Previously, in January 2017, Professor Kahn delivered a paper entitled “No More Red Lines” at the IDC Conference Herzliya on the 2016 U.S. Elections: Domestic and International Aspects. In June 2017, he delivered a paper at the 33rd annual conference of the Association of Israel Studies on the subject “The Rising Political Engagement and Influence of American Orthodox Jews on Israel-Diaspora Relations.”
Professor Kahn also has delivered papers and written extensively about anti-Semitism in Great Britain. In 2009, he presented a paper at a conference at Leicester University on Anglo-Jewry’s Responses to Contemporary Anti-Semitism in Light of the Holocaust”. In 2010, he delivered a paper at Yale University entitled, “The Community Security Trust: Why is it Protecting British Jewry?”
Dr. Kahn has extensive political consulting experience both within the Jewish community as well as in political campaigns and lobbying. He has appeared frequently as a political commentator and analyst on television and radio. Since 2005 his regular columns have appeared in a wide array of publications hosted by the New Jersey Jewish News. Beginning in 2011, Professor Kahn has written a regular blog, Kahntensions.
Gunther JikeliWhat are Meaningful Ways to Research Online Antisemitism in A Fast Changing Environment?
Today, antisemitism is spread primarily through social media. There, new forms of antisemitism are created in new memes, rumors, and accusations against Jews and Israel. Antisemitism is radicalized on some platforms and mainstreamed on others. Research in recent years has provided exemplary evidence that every conceivable form of antisemitism can be found on social media. With hundreds of millions of users, countless platforms, and hundreds of trillions of messages, this is hardly surprising. So, what can research on antisemitism on social media contribute in terms of knowledge?
I argue that we need to think about the representativeness of anti-Semitic messages on particular platforms, in particular circles, and/or in conversations about particular topics.
Dynamics of radicalization of anti-Semitic discourse, the influence of tone-setting anti-Semites, ideological cross-connections, and links between mainstream and niche platforms and radical websites also need to be explored.
I will use our research on antisemitism on Twitter to serve as an example of how such approaches might look in practice and what methodological difficulties arise in this new field of research.
Günther Jikeli, historian and sociologist, holds the Erna B. Rosenfeld Professorship at the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism/ Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University. He is an associate professor at Germanic Studies and Jewish Studies. From 2011 to 2012, he served as an advisor to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on combating antisemitism. In 2013, he was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Prize in Human Rights and Holocaust Studies by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and Tel Aviv University. His latest book “The Return of Religious Antisemitism?” was published in 2021.
Newman and MullaneThe Self-Loving Jew and the New Antisemitism
What is the role of the ‘self-loving’ Jew in the new antisemitism? As Kurt Lewin observed in 1941, ‘the field of inter-group relations is loaded with emotionality even among the so-called liberals.’ In contrast to the ‘self-loathing’ Jew of the Ghetto period whose primary concern was survival, the liberal Jew of the 21st century whom we describe as ‘self-loving’ is motivated chiefly by the wish for status. We look specifically at the examples of Ilan Pappe, Norman Finklestein, and Peter Beinart whose emotion-based discourse bears close resemblance to the agitational rhetoric of the 1930s analysed in Lowenthal and Guterman’s Prophets of Deceit (1949). Neither revolutionaries nor reformers, these advocates of change are fixated exclusively on what they condemn as the immorality of Israel. They do not seek to conceal or reject their Jewishness, rather they rely on it to bolster a heroic self-image that comes at the expense of other Jews for whom they presume to speak. Motivated by impulses associated with primary narcissism and craving the spotlight that only the powerful can give, these self-loving Jews pose as martyrs, brave soothsayers who are willing to risk everything, all the while enjoying the metaphorical equivalence of the auto-erotic pleasure of extreme sex.
Channa Newman, PhD, is Chair of Humanities and Human Sciences at Point Park University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a Holocaust survivor and is a citizen of Israel, United States, and Czech Republic. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Mullane, PhD, is an independent researcher with a background in university teaching and psychiatric social work. email@example.com
Hannah RoseInternationalising the Intifada: Narratives of the Israel-Palestine conflict in far-right online communities
As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once again came to a head in May 2021, much of the world looked on and engaged from afar, on social media. On alternative social media platforms and online forums, the far-right used the conflict to reassert existing framings and rally support for their chosen side.
Overall, by gathering posts on Telegram and 4chan from May 2021, three narratives can be evidenced across far-right online communities. A first group sympathised with Israel’s defensive position, who they perceive to be defending the frontier of a European, Judeo-Christian civilisation against a monolithic, violent, invading Muslim world. In opposition, others saw the conflict as evidence of an orchestrated Jewish attempt to steal land and replace ethnic indigenous populations, with white nationalists showing solidarity with Palestinians on this basis. A final, smaller, group, took neither side, but welcomed the chaos and violence of the fighting between two ethnic minority groups as one step closer to a race war. This paper will explore the landscape of far-right ideologies in these three positions, deconstruct the framings that underpin them, and evidence the antisemitic activism which was subsequently motivated.
Hannah Rose is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and PhD candidate in War Studies at King’s College London. Her research focus is far-right extremism, terrorism and radicalisation, with a specialism in antisemitism and the young extreme-right. In her PhD, she is investigating philosemitism in far-right anti-Islamic social movements. Hannah holds a further fellowship at the Institute for Freedom of Faith and Security in Europe.
Hannah graduated with a distinction in MA Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London, where she was awarded the Barrie Paskins prize for the highest mark MA dissertation in the War Studies Department. She further holds a first-class BA from the University of Bristol.
Previously, Hannah worked in public affairs and as a parliamentary researcher. She is a current Trustee and former President of the Union of Jewish Students, where she represented young people’s attitudes on antisemitism to the government and international institutions.
Selected publications include:
- Hannah Rose and AR, ““We are Generation Terror”: Youth-on-youth Radicalisation in Extreme Right Youth Groups”, ICSR and CST, December 2021
- Hannah Rose, “Eric Zemmour: Jewish heritage is a useful tool for the French far right”, The Conversation, November 2021
- Hannah Rose, “Pandemic Hate: COVID-related Antisemitism and Islamophobia, and the role of social media”, Institute for Freedom of Faith and Security in Europe, October 2021
- Hannah Rose, “The New Philosemitism: Exploring a Changing Relationship Between Jews and the Far-Right”, ICSR, November 2020
Full research profile available here.
Hendrik HebaufThe Limits of ‘Bio-Politics’: On the Relation between Modernity, the Holocaust and Antisemitism in Bipoplitical Theory
Since the beginning of 2020, two initially very different controversies have been discussed in the German feuilleton. On the one hand, a controversy surrounding the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe and his positions on Israel; on the other hand, a controversy concerning the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben and his positions on Covid-policies. What was not very noticeable in these debates was the commonality of Mbembe’s and Agamben’s positions. Not only had both, in a more or less direct way, compared National Socialism and the Holocaust with Israeli politics (Mbembe) and the states Covid-policies (Agamben), respectively. Rather, the positions of these two philosophers also emerge from the same theoretical conception: the theorem of biopolitics coined by Michel Foucault.
The lecture will therefore attempt to explain the two bizarre stances of Mbembe and Agamben from the theoretical implications of biopolitical theories as such. In particular, a focus will be put on the (non-)understanding of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in these theories. It will be shown that Mbembe’s and Agamben’s remarks are not accidental “slips” that have nothing to do with their philosophy but are already inherent in theories of biopolitics. After an initial general introduction to Foucault’s conception of biopolitics and to the respective adaptation and further development of this theory by Mbembe and Agamben, the specific interpretations of the Holocaust by Foucault, Mbembe and Agamben will be presented. The Holocaust is widely understood within theories of biopolitics (apart from some ambivalences in the case of
Foucault) as inherent in the logic of modern biopolitical statehood itself, merely taken to extremes. This understanding tends to disregard the particularities of the Holocaust and instead sees it as an expression of a general hostility to humanity that is abruptly inherent in modernity par excellence. This is one reason why within theories of biopolitics anti-Semitism plays no role in understanding the Holocaust or beyond. However, the murder of European Jews cannot be adequately explained in such terms.
In order to gain an understanding of why anti-Semitism plays no role within theories of biopolitics and why the Holocaust is instead derived from the biopolitical logic of the modern state itself, the philosophical understanding of the subject and of critique within theories of biopolitics will then be illuminated. The understanding of the subject in these theories leads to the result that they can only think of domination/power as passing unmediated through the bodies of individuals, while anti-Semitism is essentially characterized by the fact that it is a specific and mediated reaction of individuals to the anonymity of modern domination/power. The understanding of critique, in turn, leads to a one-sided affirmation of resistance to domination/power. This resistance is not thought of dialectically as a specific reaction to domination/power but is instead opposed to it and affirmed as something completely different. Thus, theories of biopolitics ultimately tend to think of the Holocaust not as a mediated rebellion against modernity (which at the same time remains enslaved to it), but as the
seamless and unmediated result of modern domination itself.
This theoretical digression explains how Agamben and Mbembe’s ludicrous comparisons between the Holocaust on the one hand and Israel’s politics or Corona politics on the other can come about. Because if the Holocaust is not distinguished qualitatively from ordinary state biopolitics and is instead thought of only as a purely quantitative manifestation of the latter, the Holocaust is deprived of its particular characteristics (the intention of total extermination particularly against Jews) and is thus potentially on a par with the most various forms of state politics. However, the fact that Mbembe indirectly compares the Holocaust precisely to Israeli politics is a particular perfidy and cannot be solely explained on the basis of biopolitical theory.
Henning GutfleischAntisemitism after the ›Refugee Crisis‹ A Theoretical Analysis of Educational Interventions: The Case of Germany
Europe’s rising antisemitism sheds light on the increasing danger to Jews and the con-
tinuous crisis of Western democracies alike. Accompanied by research about present phenomena na-tion-states launched educational programmes as a response to combat antisemitism in its now-domi-nant forms: antizionism, secondary and Islamic antisemitism. Pedagogy, a paper tiger when on its own, is quickly summoned once a social problem needs solving: the so-called refugee crisis not only sparked antisemitism and racism but led to an increasing demand of educational interventions cen-tring around universalistic claims, that target the very core of migration society itself. Whereas formal education lacks an understanding of antisemitism ultimately reproducing it, as Bernstein and Cher-nivsky/Lorenz point out in the case of Germany, informal education is largely clueless about its con-ditions, thus, too, missing its chance to effectively fight antisemitism.
This missing link, however, can be established. In my paper I will argue that Walter Benjamin’s materialistic education, as an analytical tool, sheds light upon the limits and possibilities of antisem-itism-critical education by tackling its now-influential postcolonial undercurrent. This hypothesis will then be tested by ethnographic material about the pedagogical practice against antisemitism, namely the methods of the Kreuzberger Initiative gegen Antisemitismus (Berlin) tailored specifically at the needs of modern migration societies.
KEYWORDS | Antisemitism, Critical Theory, Education, Germany, Migration, Qualitative Research
Henning Gutfleisch, M.A., studied anthropology, sociology and pedagogy in Heidelberg and Santiago de Chile. Since June 2019 he is a research assistant and PhD-candidate at the Goethe University Frankfurt writing his thesis about the conditions of antisemitism-critical education by means of Benjamin’s works. Since January 2021 he is working as a free-lancer for akriba, an educational project tackling contemporary forms of antisemitism located in Bremen. Formerly he worked as a research assistant in pedagogy at the University of Bremen.
Latest publications (articles): Vergessenes Leid.Benjamins »materialistische Bildungsarbeit« als Korrektiv zur politischen Bildung (Beltz 2022, in prep.), Elend und Er-
fahrung. Der Flüchtling in der verwalteten Welt (Neofelis 2021). Key interests in research: antisemitism, Critical Theory, ethnography, feminism, political education.
Hilary MillerGovernment appointed Antisemitism envoys
After the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism and Discrimination in Durban, South Africa, a range of actors in government and civil society mobilized to confront the problem of contemporary antisemitism. Their continued efforts over the last two decades amounted to the creation of a whole universe of tools and mechanisms – in the form of action plans, working groups, legal frameworks, and sophisticated incident reporting and data collection hubs – all to address Jew hate in the modern world. Among them is the “antisemitism envoy.” Also referred to as a commissioner, coordinator or focal point, the antisemitism envoy is an individual appointed by government with a mandate to address antisemitism. Since the U.N. Durban conference, governing bodies on the state, regional and international levels have adopted the envoy paradigm. The global proliferation of the position is a trend that by no accident coincides with another: rates of antisemitism are reaching near-historic levels around the world. It is in this context that antisemitism envoys are becoming increasingly relevant, popular and admired subjects in the discursive realm of combat antisemitism strategy and policy design. So much so that they have already been lauded as “perhaps the most important people helping the Jewish people fight antisemitism.” But such high praise for a relatively new position that emerged in response to a new era of antisemitism should be subject to scrutiny before making any declaration about their import or value. That is why this study, the first ever to make the antisemitism envoy its core subject, seeks a deeper understanding of how this tool is addressing antisemitism. By evaluating multiple mandates around the world at all levels of government, and identifying common patterns and practices, this research gives insight into the effects of the antisemitism envoy and its significance in the global effort to combat contemporary Jew hate.
Hilary Miller is pursuing an M.A. in Human Rights Studies at the Institute for Study of Human Rights at Columbia University in the City of New York. She is a research fellow at the Freedom of Religion or Belief Project at the Ralph Bunche Institute at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Ms. Miller’s research interests include contemporary antisemitism, antisemitism in the United States, and a human rights-based approach to combatting antisemitism.
Previously, she was a Morris B. Abram Fellow and then New York Associate at United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that promotes human rights for all. She was responsible for monitoring the work of UN bodies worldwide, drafting articles, press releases and speeches, and managing social media. She has testified on behalf of the organization before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Ms. Miller holds a degree in political science and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she graduated with honors. She served as the Editor-in-Chief of ARCHIVE, the university’s undergraduate journal of history, and was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Avukah, the undergraduate journal of Jewish studies. She was also an editor for Sifting & Winnowing, the undergraduate journal of political science, public policy, and law.
She presented a paper on the history of the Genocide Convention at the Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention in 2018, and presented another paper on the assassination of U.N. peace mediator Folke Bernadotte at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in January 2019. Ms. Miller has also been published in the Towson University Journal of International Affairs and The Chicago Journal of History.
She is the recipient of numerous awards including the William F. Vilas Scholarship for Superior Academic Merit, and the William F. Allen Prize for Excellent Historical Writing. Ms. Miller was previously a Goldman Fellow at the American Jewish Committee in Chicago, and an intern with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.
Holly HuffnagleAJC survey of Jews in America
One year after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history, American Jewish Committee (AJC) conducted a survey of American Jews’ perceptions of and experiences with antisemitism in America. The study—the first of its kind in the United States—is currently in its third year and continues to reveal new information and trends, especially as it now compares responses from the U.S. general public. While much of the data has been disaggregated and published, what remains unshared is how progressive Americans—both Jews and non-Jews—think about antisemitism; the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement; and anti-Zionism. Among U.S. Jews overall, roughly half (48%) identify as politically progressive and for U.S. adults, of those who identified with the Democratic Party, 57% self-identified as progressive. Their responses to the state of antisemitism in America, where antisemitism comes from, the effectiveness of government and law enforcement in combating it, and how antisemitism can relate to Israel differs significantly from the majority of the population. What does this divergence mean for the future of combating antisemitism?
This paper, for the first time, will disaggregate the data by progressive American responses. More importantly, by unpacking the American progressive worldview, this paper will offer prescriptions for how to counter antisemitism more effectively within progressive spaces, especially as antisemitism has been increasingly ignored, minimalized, or even redefined by the American far-left in recent years. Only by understanding how some forms of antisemitism have not been properly addressed by government, the media; the private sector, including tech companies; and college campuses (on both sides of the Atlantic) will educators, policy makers, and practitioners be able to course correct the rising trajectory of antisemitism in the 21st century and defuse the current hostile environments for Jews in these spaces.
Holly Huffnagle serves as American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism, spearheading the agency’s response to antisemitism in the United States and its efforts to better protect the Jewish community.
Before coming to AJC, Holly served at the U.S. Department of State as the policy advisor to the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and as a researcher in the Mandel Center of Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She received her master’s degree from Georgetown University where she focused on 20th century Polish history and Jewish-Muslim relations before, during, and after the Holocaust. She was a Scholar-in-Residence at Oxford University with the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy and has appeared in media outlets ranging from CNN, NBC, ABC, and Deep Dive Fox Nation, and has published articles in Times of Israel, Fox News, and other publications in the U.S.
Imogen LambertEvents and the populist reaction: “Events and the populist reaction: Antizionism and the Syrian revolution
According to Laclau and Mouffe’s theory of populist discourse, a political subjectivity – ‘the people’ – is constructed in reference to a constitutive outside – ‘the elites’. They recommend the strategic use of such a discourse by a left seeking to articulate an alternative hegemony. This paper will draw upon critical theories of Antisemitism to argue that this mode of discourse carries with it an inherent – although not inevitable – risk of legitimising Antisemitic narratives, whereby Antisemitism is understood as an originary form of othering. Moreover, suturing events through this pre-existing constructed binary serves only to exacerbate this tendency.
To illustrate this, I will examine the case study of the Syrian revolution, where the event triggered a re-evaluation of third-world populism in parts of the opposition movement in Syria. However, this re-evaluation did not extend to the British populist left (centred around Corbynism) which instead received the event of the Syrian revolution through a sedimented logic of binary anti-imperialism, itself inflected by an absolutist Antizionism.
Through this lens, this paper will explore the possibility that the minimisation of Antisemitism and the holocaust that is routinely utilized to justify Antizionism is mirrored in the populist left’s attitude to contemporary atrocities. To conclude, we can speculate that this process may shed some light on the nature of fascist contagion.
Imogen Lambert is a PhD researcher at Loughborough University. Her thesis looks at the nature of political contagion through counter-revolution, fascism and the resonance of events. Her research turns a Deleuzean lens on these phenomena, with particular focus on the Syrian revolution and its wider global affects.
Longer bio here:
Istvan PoganyHungary: Albert Wass and the school curriculum
The inclusion of Albert Wass in Hungary’s new National School Curriculum is alarming. Apart from the historical distortions, chauvinism and antisemitism that characterise the author’s literary output, its aesthetic deficiencies are glaring. The novelist Péter Esterházy once defined literature as “a quest for the secrets of existence”. By contrast, the novels and short stories of Albert Wass are repetitive polemics. Wass’s casual antisemitism, allied to an intense and unreflective Hungarian nationalism, infuse his writing, which both perpetuates classic antisemitic stereotypes and offers a heavily distorted version of Hungarian history. For Wass, as for Hungary’s ruling Fidesz Party, Hungarians are, variously, victims, helpless bystanders or courageous folk who have been willing to risk their personal safety and well-being to protect those in imminent danger. Inconvenient truths, such as Hungary’s complicity in the Shoah, are denied, suppressed or challenged with “alternative facts” such as the notorious memorial to the “victims of the German occupation” in Budapest’s Szabadság Square, erected by the Fidesz government in 2014. The designation of one of Wass’s novellas as a compulsory text in Hungary’s new National School Curriculum, alongside works by Shakespeare, Dante and Tolstoy, can only serve to legitimise his views, including his crude and pervasive antisemitism.
Stephen Pogany has written extensively on antisemitism in Hungary and in East Central Europe, including a detailed study of Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws and of the parliamentary debates that accompanied them (Righting Wrongs in Eastern Europe (Manchester University Press, 1998). His most recent book, published in the UK, is: Modern Times: The Biography of a Hungarian-Jewish Family (Brandram, 2021). The book has been widely praised by scholars and prominent Jewish public figures, including Julia Neuberger. In 2020, Pogany published a 43 page chapter on antisemitism in Hungary: “Reinventing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: Anti-semitism in Orbán’s Hungary” in a collection of essays edited by Italian sociologists Alfredo Alietti and Dario Padovan.
Izabella TabarovskySoviet Antizionism as a Classic Conspiracy Theory
Numerous scholars of antisemitism have noted that contemporary leftwing antizionism resembles classic antisemitic conspiracy theory (CT). This parallel is crucial but so far has failed to stick. As David Hirsh notes in his book, figures like Tony Judt can simply wave these parallels off by saying that antizionism only looks like antisemitic CT but isn’t in reality.
My study of Soviet antizionism has long led me to believe that it contains a strong conspiracist element. Not only does it contain easily identifiable antisemitic motifs: the very explanatory logic of Soviet antizionist propaganda—reproduced in its entirety by contemporary antizionists—reeks of conspiracism. I have long wondered about sources and specific qualities of this conspiracism.
Recently, some of my questions started to be answered as I came across writings by the scholars of conspiracy theory Quassim Cassam and Jovan Byford, who name leftwing antizionism, including Soviet antizionism, among the long list of CTs they describe. Importantly, Cassam and Byford offer analytical models to probe a given system of thought and determine whether it constitutes a CT.
I would like to propose to put Soviet antizionist framework through one of these models (or, perhaps, a hybrid model containing elements of both – likely taking Cassam’s as a foundation and weaving elements of Byford’s into it). While both Byford and Cassam include leftwing antizionism on their list of CTs, they do not analyze it in detail. I am quite certain, however, that if put through these models, both Soviet antizionism and its contemporary incarnation would present as classic CTs on par with QAnon, Covid CTs, 9/11 truthers, etc.
Beyond its intellectual value, this exercise can potentially yield useful practical outcomes. Recognizing leftwing antizionism as a CT on par with the most pernicious rightwing CTs opens up new ways to tackle it. Cassam, for example, observes that facts alone cannot defeat a CT (something that, I believe, all of us have seen in practice) and suggests additional steps that must be taken. He also notes that CTs are first and foremost a form of political propaganda—an insight that can help shift the false view of conspiracist antizionism as a pursuit of justice into an entirely different plane. Both Byford and Cassam also note that every CT contains antisemitic elements, even if they aren’t on the surface—an insight that can potentially serve as an additional tool to counter the pernicious notion that antizionism and antisemitism have no relation to one another.
Incorporating these insights into our thinking can potentially help us expand our tool box in fighting conspiracist antizionism dominating contemporary leftwing discourse. These insights can also potentially offer an additional set of criteria to help distinguish it from legitimate, non-conspiracist anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel.
Jack Omer-JackmanTime to treat the disease rather than purely mitigate its symptoms: towards a Zionist Renaissance on the ‘Decent’ Left
Amid the necessary and understandable focus on contemporary left-wing
antisemitism, including in its anti-Zionist guise, the merits of leftist anti Zionism itself
are often ignored and the doctrine left unchallenged. As a corollary, the defence of
Zionism on progressive grounds is too infrequently made, especially by non-Jews.
While acknowledging the variety of left antisemitism, this paper will argue that anti-
Zionism and Israel-hatred are the root of the contemporary plague, and that any
lasting relief must come from treatment of the disease and not its symptoms.
Thus, it will argue for a vigorous renewal of progressive Zionism on the part of the
non-Jewish democratic left, grounded in a sound historical understanding of Zionism
as a movement of national liberation and salvation. It is not naïve as to the
possibilities for persuading existing leftist antagonists, but argues that leftists of the
future must be presented with an alternative to the current obloquy heaped upon
Israel, and offered a genuinely leftist vision in which Zionism is defended not in spite
of one’s leftist ideology but because of it. It argues that, despite the lamentable trends of the past 50 years, a renaissance of “decent” leftism is possible, of which a vigorous Zionism, alongside a commitment to a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, must form an integral part.
Dr Jack Omer-Jackaman is a historian of Zionism and Anglo-Jewry and a writer on
Israel, Zionism, and antisemitism. Awarded his PhD from King’s College London, his
first book – Caught Somewhere Between Zion and Galut: The Impact of Zionism and
Israel on Anglo-Jewish Identity, 1948-1982 – was published by Vallentine Mitchell. He
is currently working on his second book, a history/polemic explaining why, as a non-
Jewish leftist, he is also a Zionist.
James MendelsohnShechita and Antisemitism
Given the understandable focus on antizionism and on left-wing antisemitism in recent years, it is perhaps unsurprising if other potential threats to the Jewish community have received less attention. One such potential threat is agitation against the practice of shechita (kosher slaughter). This paper considers the current legal status of shechita in the United Kingdom. The paper will consider historical agitation against shechita, before examining the discourse employed by groups currently agitating for a ban (primarily animal welfare groups, secularists, and the hard right). It does not assume that opponents of shechita are motivated by antisemitism but argues that antisemitism is nonetheless a characteristic of anti-shechita agitation as a whole. The paper concludes by assessing the likelihood of a ban on shechita being implemented in contemporary Britain.
I am a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of the West of England, Bristol. I have previously published on agitation against shechita in the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism.
Jeffery HerfRealities and falsehoods about the international context of the establishment of the state of Israel
A key theme of the antisemitic attack on the state of Israel concerns a falsehood about its origins first articulated both by the Soviet Union, and then by the PLO and its various supporters. Its essence was that the state of Israel was the result of efforts by Western imperialism, especially Britain and the United States, to create a Jewish state, and that this effort was part of a larger effort to retain colonial or imperialist rule in the era of decolonization. The resulting coupling of the Zionist project with Western imperialism recalled older antisemitic conspiracy theories which depicted Jews as a powerful and evil force in world politics.
In fact, the realities of 1947-1948, the years of Israel’s establishment, were the reverse of what became a conventional wisdom that linked anti-imperialism to attacks on the state of Israel. In the crucial months and years, the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc, French Socialists, Communists, and Gaullists, and American liberals and leftists were ardent supporters of the Zionist project, one that they saw as an expression of anti-fascism, and anti-imperialism. Conversely, the national security leadership of the United States, in the State Department, Pentagon, and Central Intelligence Agency viewed the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine as a threat to American national interests, a threat to Western access to Arab oil resources, and as a boost to Soviet efforts to spread Communist influence in the Middle East. Contemporary antisemitism continues to draw on these falsehoods about the international realities of 1947-1948.
Jeremy HavardiA chosen, vengeful nation: how an ancient trope of antisemitism has infiltrated the modern anti-Israel movement
The talk will focus on the key connotations of the notion of the Jew as a vengeful member of a people who consider themselves ‘chosen’ in the sense of superior to Gentiles, and thus justify inhuman and cruel treatment of non-Jews. It will then show how various commentators (Deborah Orr, Tariq Ali, Jostein Gaardner and others), have sought to apply this image of the Jew in their recent discourse attacking Israel. The key point is that such racist constructions are designed to denormalise the Jewish state and show that it does not operator as a normal political actor in the world but is instead animated by the ‘rogue’ cultural DNA of its population. According to this thinking Israel is not a normal state like others but ‘thinks’ and ‘acts’ in racist ways and cannot therefore be part of the respected family of nations.
I am the author of a forthcoming book on how the tropes and double standards of traditional antisemitism have influenced today’s anti-Israel movement, to be published by Academica Press.
Jim WaldFake Jews? Khazar History as Myth and Misappropriation in Antisemitic and Antizionist Discourse
If there was one thing antisemites agreed on, it was that Jews were “Semites.” But turn to any online discussion of the Mideast conflict, and an antizionist will charge that Jews are “Khazars”—descendants of medieval Eurasian converts, with no roots in Israel. What began in the 19th century as a plausible (but no longer tenable) hypothesis to explain Ashkenazi demography underwent a sinister transformation in the 20th as the antisemitic Anglo-American forerunners of today’s Christian Identity movement incorporated it into their claim to be the true Israelites. In popular discourse, the radical global antizionist movement today likewise employs the myth in the service of simple denialism. A more sophisticated academic antizionism (which informs the popular) cites the Khazar example in arguing that Jews had heterogeneous roots arising from a long history of conversions and never saw themselves as a national rather than religious community until the rise of Zionism. It further charges that Jews and Zionists act in bad faith, suppressing these embarrassing origins while desperately searching for genetic proof of Levantine indigeneity (seen as a disturbing turn to racialism) rather than accepting their diasporic destiny. The Khazar myth helps to illumine the symbiotic relationship between antisemitism and antizionism.
James Wald is Associate Professor of History at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. His research and teaching interests focus on modern European cultural history, the history of the book, German literature and culture, and antisemitic, racist, and fascist ideologies. Among research interests related to antisemitism are: the survival of Christian supersessionist thinking in secular modernity, and the role of the Khazar myth in modern antisemitism. He is the co-editor (with Robert Williams and Mark Weitzman) of the Routledge History of Antisemitism (forthcoming, 2022). His current research project is a book on antisemitism in the Polish Army in Britain during the Second World War.
Joanna MichlicThe Holocaust in Eastern European Memory and Politics after the Cold War: the Case of Poland, 1989 -2022
In this paper, I discuss a crucial shift in the process of memorialization of the Holocaust in post-communist Eastern Europe that has occurred around the year of 2010. In spite of its limitations, the 1989 – early 2000s phase of memorialization of the Holocaust in post-communist Europe was conducive to the emergence for the first time of critical history writing about the Holocaust, driven by local Jewish and non-Jewish senior and junior scholars living in their respective homelands or abroad. It also resulted in highly emotionally charged public and historical debates such as the well-known internationally Polish debate, of 2000 – 2002, about Jedwabne massacre of 10 July 1941 that has aimed at coming to terms with the difficult history of the treatment of Jewish minority during the Holocaust.
However, by the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century, troubling undercurrents of the memorialization of the Holocaust with continuing prejudices towards Jewish victims and Jewish survivors have exploded and ascended forcefully especially in Poland. As a result the memorialization of the Holocaust has been subjected to instrumentalization, abuses and attacks from a wide range of social, cultural and political actors as never before. This paper discusses the shift in details.
Joanna Beata Michlic is an author and social and cultural historian. She has published widely on Polish-Jewish relations in the modern period, Jewish childhood in the aftermath of the Holocaust, antisemitism, and on the memory of the Holocaust in post-communist Eastern Europe. Among my major publications on antisemitism and memorialization of the Holocaust are: Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present, (translated into Polish in 2015 and nominated for the Best History Book of Kazimierz Moczarski Award 2016 in Poland; Hebrew translation, with new epilogue, by Yad Vashem Institute, 2021), Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited with John-Paul Himka (Lincoln, NUP, 2012), and singled co-edited Jewish Family 1939 –Present: History, Representation, and Memory, Brandeis University Press/NEUP, January 2017); and “History “Wars” and the Battle for Truth and National Memory”, in: Ninna Mörner, ed., CBEES 2020 State of the Region Report Constructions and Instrumentalizations of the Past. A Comparative Study on Memory Management in the Region, (Stockholm, CBEES/Elanders, January 2021), 115-138.
Johannes BoermannA pan-European perspective on antisemitism – Data on Hate crime, Jewish and non-Jewish experiences and government responses
Despite antisemitism being a global phenomenon, data on its expressions, Jewish experiences and the view of wider society is rather patchy particularly on a transnational level. Reliable and comparable data on antisemitism is however, a prerequisite to not only tackle it efficiently but also being able to follow its trajectory and analyse groups harbouring antisemitism over time.
Even the most severe expression of antisemitism – hate crimes – are often only collected on case-by-case basis and differently categorised from country-to-country, leading to widely diverging data, for example while Germany recorded in 2020 over 2275 antisemitic hate crimes, neighbouring France only recorded 339 (EU Fundamental Rights Agency). Incidents below the threshold of crimes are even less collected, identified and prosecuted. Some valuable data on Jewish experience with antisemitism and views of non-Jewish society has begun to emerge through recent European level surveys.
My presentation will analyse achievements and gaps in antisemitism data on European level in the last two decades, including on hate crime and the views of Jewish and non-Jewish Europeans. The presentation will draw on surveys of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and other transnational institutions (OSCE/ODIHR), and analyse how data collection plays a role in national and EU policies on tackling antisemitism. I will also address in this context the impact of the IHRA definition of antisemitism on European level data-collection.
I was Deputy Coordinator on combating antisemitism of the European Commission for over 4 years and currently manage EU funding programmes in the prevention of antisemitism, racism and discrimination and on Holocaust remembrance.
Johannes D. EnstadUnderstanding the east-west divergence in European antisemitism
Around 1990, many considered antisemitism to be a “spent force” in Western countries such as the UK and the US. At the same time, Russian antisemitism was surging, leading to fears of pogroms and massive Jewish emigration. Yet there were no pogroms in Russia, and thirty years later, as this paper will argue, the situation had been turned on its head: a new divergence could be observed in terms of where Jews felt safe living and practicing as Jews. By 2020, Jews were anxiously concealing their identity not in Moscow or Vilnius, but in Western cities such as Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen. Antisemitism seemed to be affecting Jews more severely in the West than in the East. How did this situation come about? This paper will outline the empirical evidence that allows us to speak of such a divergence at all, before moving on to discuss possible explanations.
Johannes D. Enstad is a Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Social Research. Enstad holds a PhD in History from the University of Oslo. His academic interests include Soviet and Russian history, right-wing extremism, and contemporary antisemitism. Enstad currently directs the research project Comparing Histories of Antisemitism in Contemporary Europe (CHACE).
Karen MilnerPiercing the anti -Zionist veil: Implications of a landmark South African constitutional court judgment on antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism
The extent of the overlap between antisemitism and anti-Zionism has become a highly controversial and vexed question in modern antisemitism discourse. This exact question was addressed in a landmark judgment in the South African constitutional court, in a case brought by the SA Human Rights Commission on behalf of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, against Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)’s Bongani Masuku, for statements he made targeting “Zionists” around the time of the 2008/9 Gaza war. This paper identifies three key elements of the judgment as having particular significance: freedom of expression versus hate speech; the social and material positioning of Jews in society; and the recognition of how the use of sub-text, also known as dog whistling, can serve as a way of veiling the true targets of discriminatory, bigoted, and threatening speech for the purposes of legal compliance or social acceptability. The local and global implications of these three key elements of the Masuku judgment are analysed and discussed.
Karen Milner is an Associate Professor of organisational Psychology in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg South Africa. She is also the national chairperson of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies – the elected spokes body of the South African Jewish community. Her research interests are usually in the fields of organisational culture, employee wellbeing and workplace mental health and she is the author of the book “Beyond Tea and Tissues: Protecting and promoting mental health in the South African workplace” together with clinical psychologist Judith Ancer. Since her election to the SAJBD, she has maintained a keen interest in translating the academic research on antisemitism into strategies for the work she does in combatting antisemitism on the ground.
Kathleen Hayes‘Punch a TERF’ and ‘Smash the Zionists’: Misogyny and Antisemitism in the Contemporary Western Left
Authoritarianism thrives on a dialectic of love and hate. Lonely, spiritually thirsty people in a fragmented modern world turn to authoritarian groups and movements not only for a sense of belonging and meaning, but what they experience as love. The exquisite comradeship the authoritarian group provides can only be enjoyed against another group, one deemed righteous to hate. That authoritarianism invariably fosters prejudice was best understood by the Frankfurt School, who noted that ‘the authoritarian must [their emphasis], out of an inner necessity, turn his aggression against out groups’. They also found authoritarians hated predictable clusters of groups: their typical rightwing antisemitic subject also hated black people, foreigners and gays and had retrograde views about women.
Today many of the same illiberal, authoritarian ‘progressives’ who spew antisemitism support a misogynist rampage in the form of transactivism. Much as anti-Zionist vitriol is really directed against all Jews, transactivists’ threats against ‘TERFs’ implicitly target all women. Both campaigns are driven by perverse claims about ‘privilege’. For the authoritarian left, (‘Zionist’) Jews and (‘cisgender’) women are ‘oppressors’, so hating them is not only just, but obligatory. Race—the suggestion that both groups are ‘white’—plays an essential role. The contemporary struggle against antisemitism therefore calls for also grappling with the threatening, bizarre, overtly anti-materialist offensive occurring on the terrain of gender.
I was a devoted member of a small, insular Trotskyist organisation for 25 years. Since quitting in 2016, I’ve devoted myself to trying to better understand how and why so many leftists—including myself all those years—imbibe and express antisemitism. I completed a master’s degree course in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck in 2019-20, submitting as my dissertation my paper ‘Marxism, the “Jewish Question” and the Holocaust: The Spectre Behind Contemporary Left Antisemitism.’ I hope to continue studying for a PhD. My essay ‘Antisemitism and the Left: A Memoir,’ published in Fathom in July 2021, describes my journey from ignominious scourge of “Zionistsss” to prospective scholar and campaigner against antisemitism.
Keith Kahn-HarrisThe fight against antisemitism as bureaucratic struggle
Kim StollerThe Mobilization of Antisemitism: Antisemitic Demonstrations and Counteracting Measures in Germany since 2014
This paper starts from the assumption that antisemitism is embedded in different parts of the population and that it becomes (sometimes extremely) visible during certain triggering events, incidents or contexts. Some of the most visible forms of antisemitism are street demonstrations in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which sometimes call for the death of Jews and Israelis or turn violent against Jews or Jewish facilities. This paper analyzes the background and the main actors of mobilization, as well as countermeasures and their effects in Germany since 2014.
Kiril FefermanA Force to be Reckoned with: Jews from the Soviet Security Perspective
This proposal examines the evolution of Soviet security thinking towards the Jews throughout the entire Soviet period. True to its ideological tenets, in the 20-s and 30-s, the Bolshevik regime viewed Jews as a friendly disposed group. During the Holocaust, not only did this stance not change but it even deepened, underlining the maximal identification of the Jews with the Soviet Union likewise threatened by mortal danger. The assessment then changed radically in the postwar period. The gulf between Jewry and the regime widened and narrowed but remained a far cry from the interwar honeymoon.
However, Soviet security thinking towards the Jews seems to have been only partly affected by ideological restraints and hence, developed along other lines. Drawing on recently declassified records from the Ukrainian archives, the paper seeks to demonstrate that throughout the entire Soviet period this thinking was nurtured by a belief in Jewish power, inside and outside of the country. This power, whether it was friendly, neutrally, or hostile disposed to the Soviet state, had to be always beneficially harnessed, whether domestically or internationally. Frequently devoid of ideological constraints, Soviet security agencies, sometimes manned by Jews in sensitive positions, tended to view the best and worst periods in the history of the Soviet-Jewish relations primarily as opportunities vs. risks.
- 2008 – Ph.D. Institute of Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- 2017 – present – Senior lecturer (from 2020 – tenure), The Department of Jewish Heritage. Ariel University, Ariel
- If we had wings we would fly to you: A Soviet Jewish Family Faces Destruction, 1941-42 (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2020).
- The Holocaust in the Crimea and the North Caucasus (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2016).
- “‘Jewish political circles denounce every kind of terror’?: Jewish media response to Kristallnacht in Japan-controlled Harbin.” Jewish History 35, 1 (2021): 205-228.
- “Entre idéologie et realpolitik. La Judenpolitik allemande dans le Caucase du nord, août-décembre 1942.” Revue d’Histoire de la Shoah 213, 1 (2021): 89-104.
- “Bloody Snow: The Mass Slaughter of Odessa Jews in Berezovka uezd, Beginning 1942.” With Alexander Kruglov. Yad Vashem Studies 47, 2 (2019): 13-42.
- “Save Your Souls: Jewish Conversion & Survival in the Occupied Soviet Territories during the Holocaust.” Modern Judaism 39, 2 (May 2019): 184-204.
Chapters in collected volumes
(* denotes peer-reviewed contributions)
- *“Russia as a Bulwark against Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial: The Second World War according to Moscow.” The Future of the Soviet Past: The Politics of History in Putin’s Russia, eds. Nancy Adler and Anton Weiss-Wendt (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2021), 89-108.
- 2021-2022 – Israeli Scientific Fund, “The Jews in the Soviet Security Perspective”, USD 40,000
Fellowships and scholarships
- 2018 – Scholar-in-Residence. Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. Summer Institute. Oxford.
Invited Lectures and Panels
- 2018, “The Holocaust and Russian Historical Memory: WWII According to Moscow.” Presentation at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington, D.C., November 9).
- 2017, “The Holocaust in the Crimea and the North Caucasus. The Fate of Non-European Jews under Nazi Occupation”. Presentation at the Japanese Society for Jewish Studies (Tokyo, March 5).
Kornelia Sobczak Official Dislike, Rationed liking. Polish anti-Zionist Discourse in the Liberal Press in the Context of Political Terrorism of the 70s
I would like to examine the dynamic of changes in the attitude towardsthe State of Israel and – at the same time – towards the Palestinian liberation movement in the Polish official but liberal press, namely in the ‘Polityka’ weekly in the decade of the 70s, after the March of 1968 and the withdrawal of diplomatic relations with Israel. Though it was an official press organ of the Party, ‘Polityka’ developed a reputation for moderately critical journalism, promoting a more liberal worldview, sometimes surprisingly “non-leftist” one. My working hypothesis is that the decade of the 70s in Poland was not only the time when the communist system had begun to corrode and implode but also the time when the origins of the contemporary (neo)liberal way of thinking, that is shaping Polish contemporality, has emerged.
In this context, I would like to research a captivating and non-obvious way of presenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Remaining within the boundaries that constrained the press and within the official anit-Zionist position of the Party and State, condemning the “state terrorism” of Israel the columnists, editors, and reporters of ‘Polityka’ had been remaining rather cautious, reserved, and slightly patronizing towards the Palestinians and their means of combat. What seems to be especially interesting here is the comparison between discourse about the Palestinian liberation movement and leftist terrorism of western Europe (i. e. Brigate Rosse, Rote Armee Fraktion). On the other hand, Palestinian people tend to be described as the “modern Jews”, “Jews of the Future” and their condition compared to those of the Jewish diaspora before WWII. I would like to research and present how this kind of attitude and narration about the State of Israel and the Palestinians and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has outlived the Polish People’s Republic and shaped the conditions of discourse in contemporary Poland.
Lesley Klaff, Loretta Trickett and Emma ShortProject to Examine Jewish and Muslim Women’s Experience of Abuse Online
This paper will outline and describe a funded research project which proposes to examine the nature, causes, and impacts of Islamophobic and antisemitic hate speech directed at women online, and offer recommendations to address the problem. The project will take a cross-disciplinary perspective (law, criminology, psychology, and politics) and will explore Muslim and Jewish women’s experiences and perceptions of targeted online hate speech. Their narratives will be captured by means of an initial online survey followed by a new form of documentary making that uses a 360 degree ‘immersive’ technology. Based on the experiences and perceptions, the project will explore (1) the effectiveness of policy and legal responses to the problem of online hate speech directed at these women, and (2) whether technological solutions are enough to hold social media companies accountable for the material that appears on their platforms. The context for this project is (1) the growing issue of gendered antisemitism and Islamophobia online which remains ‘invisible’ both in research terms and in official statistics, and (2) the new Online Safety Bill which will impose a legal duty of care on social media companies to address online harms and will create an independent regulator to oversee and enforce compliance with the duty. The research will involve qualitative analysis and will examine primary and secondary victimisation. The project will result in the following benefits: (1) a toolkit for Muslim and Jewish organisations, such as Tell Mama and the CST, as well as for universities, schools and women’s groups; (2) a report for the Online Harms Regulator based on researched information and recommendations; a report for social media companies; (3) a briefing paper for criminal justice practitioners. It is hoped that the opportunity to present this paper at the LCSCA Inaugural Conference will provide the researchers with constructive feedback on the project.
Lesley Klaff is a senior lecturer in law at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, Sheffield Hallam University, Professor [Affiliate] at the University of Haifa, and a research fellow at the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (LCSCA). She is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, is a member of the advisory board of the Louis D Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law and does pro bono work for UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). In 2015 and 2016 she organised and hosted (with Jonathan G. Campbell) two international, multi-disciplinary colloquia on contemporary antisemitism at Bristol University and Sheffield Hallam University, respectively. Her edited volume of the papers from the first colloquium, Unity and Diversity in Contemporary Antisemitism: The Bristol-Sheffield Hallam Colloquia on Contemporary Antisemitism (with Jonathan G. Campbell), was published by Academic Studies Press in 2019; and her guest edited volume of the European Journal of Current Legal Issues with selected papers from the second colloquium was published in 2019. In April she acted as an expert witness on antisemitism in a disciplinary case before the General Teaching Council of Scotland and is currently acting as an expert witness for the International Legal Forum (ILF) in an antisemitism case before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She has published on campus antisemitism, antisemitism in British politics, Holocaust inversion, antisemitism and the Equality Act 2010, and the intersection of antisemitism and misogyny. She is about to start work on a funded research project on the topic of ‘Intersectionality, Misogyny and Online Hate’ with colleagues at Nottingham Trent University, De Montfort University and Oxford Brookes University. This project will examine the nature and impact of the harms caused to Jewish and Muslim women by gendered antisemitic and Islamophobic abuse online. In 2018, she was named by The Algemeiner as one of the top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life.
Loretta Trickett is a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Nottingham Law
School having taught Criminology, Criminal Law, International Criminal Law (LLM),
Human Rights and Criminal Justice (LLM) and Victim’s Rights and Restorative
Justice. Loretta acts as academic leader of the Postgraduate Research Community Forum and
supervises PhD, LLM and LLB students on a wide range of criminal justice dissertations. She
is a HEA fellow and has been awarded the VC teaching award. Her main research areas lie in experiences of gendered harassment and victimisation, hate crime, social exclusion and public service provision. Loretta has a track record of attracting funding for research on the engagement of public organisations with members of the general public. Her research has been used by a variety of government and legal bodies resulting in legal and policy development. Her research has been commended by numerous professional bodies including the College of Policing, HMICFRS, National Police Chief’s Council, EMPAC. In 2021, she was awarded The Times Higher Education Award for best research contribution to a community, for her research on women’s safety, in collaboration with Professor Louise Mullany of The University of Nottingham.
Emma Short is a Chartered Health Psychologist and HCPC registered as a practitioner in Health Psychology. She has conducted research in the area of cyber harassment and technology facilitated abuse since 2005, working with partners in the third sector, Higher Education, police and government bodies. She is an Associate Professor at De Montfort University leading the Psychology and Technology research cluster. Emma has published widely on the impact of cyberstalking, image based sexual abuse, the use of technology in relationships and the lived experience of those who have suffered this form of interpersonal violence.
Jacob Lewis and Ayal FeinbergAntisemitism and attitudes to Israel amongst Jews
During the May 2021 two-week military conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza, the Anti-Defamation League found a 75% increase in reported antisemitic incidents across the United States. The Community Security Trust recorded 661 antisemitic incidents over this month, representing a 429% increase and a record number for any month. While Jewish communities worldwide were violently targeted due to the most recent manifestation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, scholars and practitioners alike know little about how Diaspora targeting affects national sympathies toward Israel. We hypothesize that exposure to antisemitic hate crimes targeting a country’s Jewish population induces emphatic distress and is relieved by resultant changes in foreign policy preferences favoring Israel. To test our hypothesis, we designed a novel survey experiment to measure the effect of antisemitic hate crime coverage on foreign policy preferences to a representative sample of 2,000 Americans through Prolific. Our survey experiment findings show that respondents exposed to an antisemitic hate crime, regardless of whether it contained an explicit anti-Zionist motivation, had greater support for an alliance with Israel and military aid for Israel. Considering how impactful Israel-Hamas escalations in Gaza have been on increasing antisemitic hate crimes targeting the Diaspora in the United States (and elsewhere), our results demonstrate baked-in counterintuitive consequences for these antisemitic acts. Specifically, these antisemitic hate crimes may make a nation more supportive of its relationship with Israel, including increased support for military aid to the country. While we find that the effects of antisemitic hate crime exposure on foreign policy preferences are mediated by ideology, religious identification, and support for political violence, their substantive effect remains remarkably consistent. For example, our findings show increased support for Israel following hate crime exposure even when controlling for respondents’ prior attitudes about Israel. Furthermore, as an additional robustness check, our results show that hate crime exposure only exhibits foreign policy preference effects specific to Israel.
In short, while extant literature has examined the effects of hate crime on their immediate target and target community, we show that outgroup individuals exposed to hate crime may increase perceived support for the victim group – at least via preferences for associated foreign policies – in their wake. This critical finding is essential for scholars and practitioners concerned with antisemitism and social scientists broadly interested in better understanding the political consequences of prejudice and hate crime around the world.
Jacob S. Lewis, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University, where his research focuses on issues of political psychology, African Politics, and Antisemitism. His work centers on questions of trust, legitimacy, conflict, and radicalization. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 2019 and lives in Spokane, WA with his wife and son.
Ayal K. Feinberg, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University-Commerce. His research has been featured in journals and media outlets such as International Negotiation, Perspectives on Politics, International Interactions, Religion & Politics, PS: Political Science & Politics, Contemporary Jewry, Harvard National Security Journal, Southeast European & Black Sea Studies, and The Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage.” His scholarship is frequently utilized by practitioners and policymakers concerned with the insecurity of marginalized groups and was inducted into the Congressional Record during the 2019 House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on “Hate Crime and the Rise of White Nationalism.”
Linda MaizelsParagon or Pariah: An Analysis of the American Far Right and Its Responses to Israel and Zionism
Despite the nearly uniform animosity to Jews expressed by adherents of the American far right, varied reactions to Israel and Zionism suggest a philosophical divide in the movement. During Israel’s incursion into Gaza in 2021, white nationalist Nick Fuentes tweeted “Palestine isn’t the only country under Israeli occupation.” But Richard Spencer, who once styled himself the leader of the alt-right movement, expressed admiration, albeit warped, for Israel, calling himself the equivalent of a “white Zionist” whose central motive was a “secure homeland” for white people. Nevertheless, this paper will argue that the seemingly divergent statements of Fuentes and Spencer are animated by the same antisemitic intent.
The paper will trace the trajectory of the American far-right’s responses to Israel and Zionism, including the influence of isolationist paleoconservatives, anti-communist apologists for Nazi Germany, and Holocaust deniers. It will consider the respect for Israel and Zionism that is now a pillar of the mainstream Republican party and American evangelical culture, as well as the impact of the leftist discourse that positions the Jewish State as a malevolent and racist entity. The paper will conclude by examining the contemporary consequences of far-right antisemitism, including the radicalization of both the conservative movement as a whole and the anti-Israel far-left.
Linda Maizels is awaiting the spring/summer publication by Routledge of her new book What is Antisemitism: A Contemporary Introduction. Her essay “In the Context of a Coarsened Climate: Campus Antisemitism and the Alt-Right, Alt-Lite, and Far Left” was included in Contending with Antisemitism in a Rapidly Changing Political Climate, edited by Alvin H. Rosenfeld (November 2021). She wrote her dissertation at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on the effects of antisemitism and anti-Zionism on Jewish student identity at American college and university campuses from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Lyn JuliusWhy has the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Jews from Arab and Muslim countries been suppressed?
In March 2021, the expulsion by the pro-Iranian Houthis of 13 Yemenite Jews marked the extinction of this 3,000-year-old community. Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, ancient Jewish communities are in their death throes. In 1948, there were almost a million Jews in Arab countries. Today, there are barely 4,000. Most refugees and their descendants are now in Israel – where they make up 50.2 percent of the Jewish population – because of Arab and Muslim antisemitism .
Yet, in the reams written about the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is rare to find any mention of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Why has this silent exodus, one of the most dramatic of the last 70 years, gone un-noticed, while the Palestinian refugee narrative hogs the limelight?
Lyn Julius will endeavour to explain why Jews from Arab countries have remained invisible: the Israeli government saw the Jews as Zionists returning home; Jews themselves have suppressed the issue. But while Arab interest in their departed Jewish citizens is rising, western academic revisionism is increasingly distorting the ethnic cleansing of MENA communities in order to blame Zionism and promote a pre-existing myth of peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews.
The daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees, Lyn Julius is a journalist, blogger, speaker and author of Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish civilisation in the Arab world vanished overnight (Vallentine Mitchell, 2018). She is a co-founder of Harif, the UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.
Matt Bolton and Matthias BeckerThe Decoding Antisemitism Project – Reflections, Methods and Goals
This presentation will introduce the pilot project ‘Decoding Antisemitism: An AI-driven Study on Hate Speech and Imagery Online.’ The aim of the project, based at the Technische Universität Berlin, is to analyse the frequency, content and linguistic structure of online antisemitism, with the eventual objective of developing AI machine learning capable of recognising explicit and implicit forms of antisemitic hate speech. The initial focus is on comments found on the websites and social media platforms of major media outlets in the UK, Germany and France. The paper will outline the project’s multi-step methodological design which seeks to capture the complexity, diversity and continual development of antisemitism online.
The first step is qualitative content analysis. Rather than relying on surveys, here a pre-existing ‘real world’ data set – namely threads of online comments responding to media stories judged to be potential triggers for antisemitic speech – is collected and analysed for antisemitic content and linguistic structure by expert coders. The second step is supervised machine learning. Here, models are trained to mimic the decisions of human coders and learn how antisemitic stereotypes are currently reproduced in different web milieus – including implicit forms. The third step is large-scale quantitative analyses in which frequencies and combinations of words and phrases are measured, allowing the exploration of trends from millions of pieces of data.
What distinguishes Decoding Antisemitism from other web-related projects, the paper will suggest, is that we seek to understand discourses on the basis of deductive as well as inductive categories before undertaking such analyses. That is, instead of approaching the data sets with fixed set of predefined categories of antisemitism, here there is a constant feedback loop of conceptual and linguistic development driven by the data itself. As new modes of implicit and coded speech – new references, linguistic phrases and memes, in-jokes – are developed, so they are incorporated in the guidelines used by researchers to code antisemitic comments. Only by accompanying inductive categories with a deductive approach that is able to capture the diversity, complexity and, crucially, the ongoing development of antisemitic speech online is it possible for machine-learning to begin to tackle the problem in an effective manner.
DR MATTHIAS J BECKER
Dr Matthias J Becker is Project Lead on the “Decoding Antisemitism” project and a Postdoc researcher at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforshung at TU Berlin. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Weiss-Livnat Center for Holocaust Studies, Haifa University; CENTRIC, Sheffield Hallam University; Haifa Center for German and European Studies (HCGES), Haifa University; Vidal Sassoon Center, Hebrew University; and the Jerusalem Center for Cyber Law & Policy, University of Haifa. His latest monograph, Antisemitism in Reader Comments: Analogies for Reckoning with the Past, was published by Palgrave Macmillion in 2021.
DR MATTHEW BOLTON
Dr Matthew Bolton is a research assistant on the ‘Decoding Antisemitism’ project. He was awarded his PhD in Philosophy by the University of Roehampton in 2020. His co-authored book on the Corbyn movement, Corbynism: A Critical Approach, was published by Emerald Books in 2018. His articles have been published in the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, British Politics and Political Quarterly.
Meir LitvakThe Jews as Enemies of Iran: A New Trend in Iranian Antisemitism
The official religious discourse in the Islamic Republic of Iran claims to distinguish between Zionism, a repugnant racist colonialist movement to be opposed and eliminated, and Judaism as a tolerated monotheistic religion. Yet, in reality, this discourse promotes clear anti-Semitic themes. Since the beginning of the 21st Century, a new approach appeared within the hardline camp in the Iranian ruling establishment, which presents the Jews as historical enemies of Iran from antiquity to the present. The endorsement of the new line apparently stems from the awareness that religious arguments, which present the Jews as enemies of Islam, find little appeal among the youth, whose adherence to the regime’s religious ideology had weakened. Conversely, as the young are Iranian patriots they may be more attuned to arguments, which highlight threats to the Iranian nation. The proposed paper will analyze three false charges raised against the Jews: The genocide perpetrated against the Iranians according to the Biblical story of Esther; Jewish collusion with British imperialism and the Baha’is during the 19th Century; the Jewish role in instigating the great famine, which allegedly led to the death of nine million Iranians in 1918-1920. The supposed Iranian-Jewish confrontation will culminate with the Iranians playing a key role in the future apocalyptic clash between the awaited Shi`i Mahdi with the Sufyani (the Shi’i equivalent of the anti-Christ) who will back the Jews. In analyzing these case studies, the paper will seek to draw the main characteristics and features of this new type of Iranian anti-Semitism and place it in the broader context of Iranian attitudes towards Judaism.
Meir Litvak (Ph.D, Harvard 1991) is a Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern History and a senior Research Associate at the Alliance Center at Tel Aviv University. He works on Modern Shi‘i and Iranian History as well as on modern Islamic movements. Among his publications: Shici Scholars of Nineteenth Century Iraq: The cUlama’ of Najaf and Karbala’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Co-author with Moshe Aharonov, Iran: From a Persian Empire to an Islamic Revolution (Tel Aviv: Open University of Israel, 2014, Hebrew); Co-author with Esther Webman, From Empathy to Denial: Arabic Responses to the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009, Hebrew edition Jerusalem: Magnes and Yad Vashem press, 2015). I have also edited eight books, and published articles on anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, among them:
“Radical Islamist Movements and Antisemitism: Between Old and New,” in Armin Lange, Kerstin Mayerhofer, Dina Porat and Laurence H. Schiffman (eds.), Confronting Antisemitism in Modern Media, the Legal and Political Worlds (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021), pp. 133-148.
“Modern Antisemitism in Iran: Old Themes and New Trends,” in Armin Lange, Kerstin Mayerhofer, Dina Porat and Laurence H. Schiffman (eds.), An End to Antisemitism: Confronting Antisemitism From the Perspectives of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020), pp. 301-320.
Iranian Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust,” in Anthony McElligott and Jeffrey Herf (Eds.): Antisemitism Before and Since the Holocaust: Altered Contexts and Recent Perspectives (New York: Palgrave-McMillan, 2017), pp. 205-229.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holocaust: Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism,” Journal of Israeli History Vol. 25 (2006), pp. 245-266.
Meir Litvak and Esther Webman, “The Representation of the Holocaust in the Arab World,” Journal of Israeli History: Special Issue, After Eichmann: Collective Memory and the Holocaust since 1961 Vol. 23 No. 1 (Spring, 2004), pp. 100-115.
Meir Litvak and Esther Webman, “Perceptions of the Holocaust in the Palestinian Public Discourse,” Israel Studies Vol. 8 No. 3 (Fall, 2003), pp. 123-140.
My book Know Thy Enemy: Evolving Attitudes towards “Others” in Modern Shiʻi Thought and Practice was published by Brill in early 2021.
Memphis KrickerbergPolitical antisemitism in France and Germany
Academic research as well as activist work, especially in Germany, has made it possible to map the various left-wing variations of antisemitism. However, comparative approaches to the relationship of the left to antisemitism remain underdeveloped. In my presentation, I will try to sketch out the main lines of my dissertation work, under the direction of Karin Stögner and Danny Trom, which consists in comparing and trying to explain the differentiated trajectories of the politicization of antisemitism and the position of the left towards Jews in France and Germany between 2000 and 2020. While France is characterized by a hegemony of anti-Zionism and a situation globally similar to that of other Western left-wing movements on this theme, Germany stands out out by the centrality of the question of antisemitism in political mobilizations and a pro-Zionist orientation assumed by a significant part of the left. I propose to understand these differentiated trajectories by comparing a series of controversies around three main themes: anti-Zionism, the place of antisemitism in anti-racist mobilizations and the memory of the Shoah. The controversy approach allows us not only to dramatize existing orientations and to understand how certain positions become hegemonic but also to highlight factors specific to national contexts, such as the structuring of public spaces.
Memphis has been active in struggles against antisemitism in France since the mid-2010s and is currently a doctoral student at the EHESS (Paris) and a visiting fellow at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung at the TU Berlin.
Mirjam KatzinSchooling experiences of Jewish children and adolescents in Malmö, Sweden
My presentation will take as its’ starting point a report and an article I have written, based on my interviews with Jewish children and youth in Malmö, Sweden. In an international context, it is not unusual that people come to think of the topic of antisemitism when they hear mention of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city. However, very few, almost none, actual research on the situation for Jews in Malmö has been carried out. When I was employed as the municipal’s coordinator against antisemitism in the schools, my first task was to systematize knowledge which could form basis for an effective work against antisemitism and to better the situation for the Jewish pupils. Within this framework, I performed the interviews with Jewish adolescents which is the primary data that I will present. A central starting point is the understanding of antisemitism as a complex and multivariate problem, which in this context is linked to other processes inside and outside the school. These processes create injustice, vulnerability, and discrimination at the group level, but also constructs categories, stereotypes, and deviants in ways that can lead to harassment and fear of ‘the Other’ at the individual level.
I hold a doctoral degree in law, and is currently working for the municipal administration in the City of Malmö as a local “coordinator against antisemitism”, the first of the kind in Sweden. In 2021, I published a much-publicized report on antisemitism and the situation for the Jewish minority in Malmö’s schools.
Morten HunkeAntisemitism in Berlin schools
There has long been anecdotal evidence that antisemitism in Berlin schools, amongst Muslim students, is a significant phenomenon. A recent systematic study, (BeFo-Interventionsstudie) in Berlin-Neukölln, appears to corroborate this picture. It is clear that scholarly research on Muslim antisemitism, and the publication of its findings, interacts in complex and difficult ways with political and policy considerations and with wider public discourse. Part of this context is racism, the relative social marginalisation of Muslims. The specific German context may be significant, relating to German traditions of defining German-ness and citizenship. The other part is the suggestion that ‘overcoming antisemitism’ has been foundational to post-war narratives and identities of German-ness. If Muslim communities are already thought of as ‘not properly-German’, then evidence of Muslim antisemitism might increase this perception. On top of these, there are tendencies of ‘self-othering’ of people defining themselves as belonging to religious Muslim communities. There is a danger in raising the issue of antisemitism amongst Muslim children in Germany because it has the potential to feed into xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic discourse. And there is a danger in not raising the issue. There has been a reluctance to take the BeFo study seriously and there have been angry responses to.
Morten Hunke has been an educator at many different levels of education for close to 20 years. He has worked in a number of countries: Germany, Sweden, the UK, and Japan. He has been active in political debates and a long time advocate of the importance of criticism of antisemitism; and he has organised events dedicated to it.
Naya LekhtAt the Intersection of Power: Anti-Zionism and Soviet Roots
In the West, Anti-Zionism is a chief form of antisemitism on college campuses and in high
schools. Drawing from ancient antisemitic tropes such as world domination, blood libel, power,
and dual loyalty, today’s proliferation of this age-old hatred can be traced back to Stalin’s 1947
anti-Jewish campaign and all throughout the Soviet period of 1950-1967. This paper explores
early roots of anti-Zionism found in the liquidation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the
1949 Doctors Plot, the 1952 Slansky trial, wherein Jews were arrested and forced to confess to
“being part of the Zionist conspiracy,” and the publication of the antisemitic book, Judaism
without Embellishments (1963). Utilizing the Jew, now Zionist, as the prototype for moral
opprobrium, Soviets leaders successfully built a propaganda campaign that aimed to project the
ills of the world onto Israel and Zionism.
Today’s offenders employ the language of the Soviets by calling Israel an apartheid or Nazi
state, accusing Zionism of being racist and imperialist, and indicting Zionists with “stealing the
land.” This paper, however, not only exposes the Soviets roots of anti-Zionism but questions
why this form of antisemitism has returned. “At the Intersection of Power,” thus examines how
power and its converse, powerlessness, has once more become a dominant guiding moral
principle in the West, consequently priming individuals to partake in antisemitic behaviors.
Naya Lekht was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in 1989.
She received her PhD from UCLA, where she wrote her dissertation on the Holocaust in Soviet
Literature, in which she examined how, despite limitations on representations of the Holocaust,
literature shaped conceptualization of Jewish national identity. Her expertise is in
contemporary antisemitism and teaching methodologies. Naya was a scholar-in-residence at
Oxford University through ISGAP, where she developed an unique methodological approach to
teaching on antisemitism which looks at the topology of antisemitic tropes. Naya writes and
lectures widely on antisemitism. In 2020, Naya presented her research at Indiana University’s
Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Her paper, “Between Universalism and
Particularism: Antisemitism Education in America” examined the gaps in current
Nikki Marczak and Shannon ZimmermanThe interplay of antisemitism and misogyny in the online space of the Manosphere
The digital spaces that make up the Manosphere are distinguished by their virulent
misogyny, which revolves around anti-feminist ideas that scapegoat and dehumanise
women. Less acknowledged, but possibly just as influential, is the important role that
antisemitism plays in this verbal and visual discourse. While members of the manosphere
blame feminism for many of today’s perceived ills such as the dismantling of traditional
gender roles, in turn Jews are held responsible for the promotion of concepts of modernity
including feminism. In line with classic antisemitic conspiracy theory, Jews are depicted as
“pulling the strings”, as evil yet simultaneously inferior; women too are accused of being
subhuman while paradoxically wielding manipulative power over men and broader society.
This reveals strong undercurrents of far-right extremism which is visible in the valorisation
of Nazi figures such as Goebbels, Hitler and Mengele. Where these ideologies merge, real
world violence can occur: the manifestos left after recent mass attacks have expressed both
antisemitism and misogyny. This paper explores the implicit and explicit manifestations of
antisemitism in the discourse and visual imagery of these online spaces to locate the role it
plays in organising and motivating misogynistic discourse.
Shannon Zimmerman is postdoctoral research fellow at the RMIT University in Melbourne,
Australia. Her research investigates misogyny motivated terrorism, looking at the online
groups in the ‘Manosphere’ with a particular focus on the ‘involuntary celibates’ or Incels.
Prior to this Shannon worked for the US Institute of Peace for the Center for Gender and
Peacebuilding, on projects focused on gender and countering violent extremism. Her other
research investigates the peace operations, specifically the protection of civilians in conflict
environments characterised by asymmetric threats. Shannon received her PhD from the
University of Queensland in 2019 and her Masters in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown
University in 2012.
Nikki Marczak is Atrocity Prevention Coordinator at the Asia Pacific Centre for the
Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland. Nikki is a genocide scholar and survivor
advocate with a focus on women’s experiences, and has worked with Armenian, Yazidi and
Jewish communities on issues including recognition and justice. She participated in German
government workshops for descendants of Holocaust survivors and is involved in the
campaign for stronger anti-vilification laws in Queensland. Nikki is co-editor of the Genocide
Perspectives series published by UTS ePRESS and she serves on the Board of the National
Council for Jewish Women Australia, chairing the NCJWA Combatting Hate Committee.
Perry Dane and Cynthia SaltzmanAntisemitism and Anti-Zionism in the Academic Thicket
Underlying some recent efforts to define contemporary antisemitism is the
justified instinct that there is a difference between “ordinary” criticism of Israeli actions
and policies and a normalized existential rejection of Israel’s legitimacy or the Jewish
right to self-determination. This paper – drawing on ethnographic data and analytic
arguments – unpacks the practical ramifications of that distinction on the ground. It
illustrates through case studies how arguments about Israel have fractured campus
groups and academic professional organizations in the United States, creating conflicts
over definitions of social justice and testing the meaning of antisemitism. It will also
explore the dilemmas faced by left-leaning Jews and others who perceive themselves
being sidelined and hectored by more rejectionist voices, but who also – poignantly and
paradoxically – find themselves expending so much energy defending Israel’s right to
exist that they are disabled from engaging in the sort of criticism of Israel that they
know would be more productive. The paper will examine how some critics of Israel’s
legitimacy rationalize their views, contrasting their rhetoric with that of older
expressions of anti-Zionism. And it will explore the unhelpful efforts of some
conservative pro-Israel polemicists who also end up ignoring the line between
“ordinary” criticism and potential antisemitism.
Perry Dane is a Professor of Law at the Rutgers Law School. He was previously on the
faculty of the Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to William J. Brennan, Jr.,
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He also served as a Distinguished
Visiting Professor of Legal Theory at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He is a
graduate of Yale College and the Yale Law School. His academic interests include Religion and the Law, legal pluralism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, interfaith dialogue, Constitutional Law and Theory, comparative constitutionalism, Private International Law, the jurisprudence of Jewish law, education law, and the law of marriage. In 2011, Professor Dane received the Inaugural Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence at the Rutgers School of Law – Camden.
Cynthia Saltzman is a cultural anthropologist and a Lecturer at Rutgers University-
Camden. She received her PhD and MPhil from Columbia University and her B.A. from Bennington College. Dr. Saltzman did her post-doctoral work at Yale University
studying women and white-collar unions at the University and then researching
“Women Activists Transforming Judaism.” Her writing has focused on women and
unions, feminism and Judaism, the acquisition of children’s values, and their economic
welfare, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Saltzman was an Associate Director in charge of public programs at the Herbert D.Katz’s Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has worked for a consulting firm on institutional research for Bryn Mawr College and Harvard University. She has been active in the American Anthropological Association and other professional organizations.
Philip MendesA case study of Ethnic Stereotyping and exclusion: The BDS campaign against all Israeli Jews and all Jewish supporters of Israel
This paper examines the key manifestations of the BDS movement in Australia from 2002 to the present day. It is argued that the BDS movement engages in forms of racial or ethnic stereotyping based on labeling all Israeli Jews as an oppressor people. Additionally, they seek to demonize any Jews who support Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state, irrespective of their widely varied views on conflict resolution, as the ideological enemy.
Using a number of examples of BDS campaigns in Australia including the most recent attacks on the Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the Sydney Festival for hosting Israeli films or performers, this paper argues that the BDS movement has had only limited impact on mainstream Australian political parties and public debate in terms of influencing attitudes towards the State of Israel. But it has succeeded in poisoning segments of academic and cultural discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and at times excluding moderate voices in favour of a negotiated two-state solution from progressive debates.
Professor Philip Mendes is the Director of the Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit in the Department of Social Work at Monash University, Australia. He is the co-author of Boycotting Israel is Wrong. New South Press, 2015:
Rachel Kantz FederNew Horizons’ in Iranian Anti-Americanism and Antisemitism: The American Far-Left and Deadly Exchange at the ‘New Horizon Conferences for Independent Thinkers and Artists
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, overt antisemitism and the demonization of Israel as a racist partner to American imperialism long have been facets of the regime’s anti-Americanism and revolutionary challenge to ‘western hegemony’. In 2006, Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spearheaded public and cultural diplomacy initiatives that center antizionism in the state’s production of anti-Americanism. Prominent filmmaker and state TV journalist Nader Talebzadeh supported and expanded this strategy of delegitimizing Jews through arts and ‘freethinking’ to contest American power. Several of Talebzadeh’s ‘New Horizon’ conferences have been reported on as international gatherings attended by a bizarre array of American far-left activists, Alexander Dugin and ultra-nationalist Putin sycophants, spies, and 9/11 truthers. Although Iran platforms conference participants and invests in a broader foreign network of activists and demagogues for both domestic and foreign propaganda production, the significance of theses conferences and relationships await systematic attention.
This paper will show how since 2008, Talebzadeh and a group of cultural producers have cultivated extensive connections with American far-left actors including: Code Pink, fringe academics and artists, celebrities, former US politicians and Green Party organizers, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Talebzadeh and his colleagues host American delegations and religious missions billed under the promotion of the arts, citizen-to-citizen relations, and interfaith dialogue. This study situates their role within the histories of Sacred Defense war cinema and antisemitism in revolutionary Iran. It focuses on efforts surrounding the 2014 and 2015 New Horizon conferences on US police brutality, where influential American personalities like Tim Pool, Medea Benjamin, and Caleb Maupin discussed ‘BDS Movement Strategies against the Zionist Regime’ in a session with Hamas’s representative to Iran. Also widely trafficked was ‘Deadly Exchange’ – the unfounded accusation that Israeli-American police exchanges implicate Israel and American Jews in African-Americans’ oppression. In taking these conferences, cultural exchange, and wider platforming seriously as potential vectors of ideological cross-pollination, this study will illuminate aspects of the discursive development of Deadly Exchange before Jewish Voice for Peace launched the official campaign in 2017.
Rachel Kantz Feder is a Senior Researcher at the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her dissertation and manuscript project deal with the history of the relationships between Shi’ism and leftists movements and revolutionary ideologies in Iraq and the Shi’i Middle East.
Richard LandesApocalyptic Millennialism and Antisemitism, Then and Now
There is a strong correlation between outbreaks of antisemitism in its most severe, exterminationist forms, and apocalyptic expectations; indeed, one might reasonably argue that key traits — pervasive paranoia (global conspiracies), dualistic thinking (enemy absolute evil), and genocidal drives (megadeath as policy) all derive their shape and intensity from apocalyptic thinking about the “End of Time.” The three best-known cases of this phenomena are the Crusades (especially the “First”), the Nazis, and the Caliphators (global jihadis of the 15th century, AH). This paper will place the constellation described above, in the context of apocalyptic waves which sometimes begin with a much more positive, indeed enthusiastic view of the Jews in the redemptive scenario, and then turn from philo- to antisemitism in the period of apocalyptic disappointment. This better explains the 21st-century antisemitic turn in England than the escape from Holocaust Shame that arguably plays an important role on the continent.
I taught medieval history at Boston University for twenty-five years. The focus of my work was the turn of the first millennium in France (Peace of God movement). I co-founded the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University (1995-2003). My work on medieval millennialism led me in the mid-1990s to suggest that the year 2000 might mark a turning point from the philo-Judaism of the post-war/Shoah period in the West to a new wave of antisemitism, especially among those awaiting the “Rapture.” I was right about the wave, wrong about its source.
Rosa FreedmanUn Human Rights System and Antisemitism
In 2019 the first ever UN human rights report on antisemitism was published. This pivotal moment took more than seven decades from when the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was created. That Declaration was created as a direct response to the horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany, yet Jewish communities since 1948 have not engaged with the UN human rights bodies and have viewed it with scepticism and suspicion. The UN human rights system has not fully engaged with let alone addressed antisemitism as a specific human rights abuse, although some steps have been taken in recent years. This paper will focus on the UN human rights system, explaining what it does and how the mechanisms can be used to counter antisemitism as a human rights abuse. It also will confront the realities that excessive scrutiny of Israel within the system has at times been antisemitic, how and why this has been allowed to occur, and the ways in which it could and should be challenged and countered.
Rosa Freedman is the inaugural Professor of Law, Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading. She received her LLB, LLM and PhD from the University of London, and is a non-practising barrister and member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. Freedman’s research focuses on the UN and human rights. She has published extensively on UN human rights bodies and systems, and on UN peacekeeping and accountability for human rights abuses committed during such operations. Her published work includes three monographs, two co-edited collections, and articles in American Journal of International Law, European Journal of International Law, Leiden Journal of International Law and Human Rights Quarterly, amongst others. Freedman is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, is a Specialist Adviser on safeguarding to the UK government International Development Committee, and sits on the UK FCO Women, Peace and Security Steering Group.
Dr Samantha Vinokor-MeinrathAntisemitism + Generation Z: Coming of Age During the Resurgence of Hate
For Jewish Generation Z-ers, the resurgence of antisemitism from the political left and right around the world has shaped their identities and coming of age experiences. While there are more opportunities to engage Jewishly than ever before, there is the simultaneously growing hesitation for young people to claim their Judaism through their public presentation, both in-person and on social media. At the same time, Gen Z-ers are proud to be Jewish. These equally significant dichotomies color the Jewish identities and choices of this generation of emerging adults.
This paper looks at antisemitism through the lens of Generation Z (those born between 1996 – 2012) and their Jewish identity development in reaction to its visible uptick. It will argue that antisemitism is critical in how Jewish identity is accessed and expressed in the contemporary experience of adolescence and emerging adulthood, and will explore the communal and pedagogic implications of this reality.
Dr. Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath is the Senior Director of Knowledge, Ideas and Learning at the Jewish Education Project. A lifelong Jewish educator and learner, Samantha is a recognized expert in Jewish identity development, Generation Z and adolescence, and the experience of contemporary antisemitism. She is the author of #antisemitism: Coming of Age During the Resurgence of Hate. Samantha is an award-winning educator, and has had the honor of living and working in Israel, Washington DC, Cleveland, and New York. She is an alumna of the University of Pittsburgh, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Gratz College. Samantha lives in Westchester, New York, with her husband, baby, and two beloved rescue dogs.
Sammy EppelAntisemitism and the Chavez movement
Hugo Chávez was the President of Venezuela between 1999 and 2013. He appealed to the electorate with a variant of Bolivarian, militarist, anti-imperialist, Marxism, which in the end, collapsed into economic and social disaster.
Hostility to Israel was a key element of his anti-imperialist rhetoric. The antisemitism inherent in his antizionism was at times explicit. He forged friendly relations with the regime in Iran. In a 2006 speech he claimed that “a minority, the descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ”, had “taken possession of all of the wealth of the world”. In 2009 there were armed attacks on a synagogue in Caracas that appeared to be related to official antizionist rhetoric. Chavez condemned the attacks but later the official investigation appeared to protect the real perpetrators.
Chavez drew ideologically from Communist, Fascist and Radical Islamist sources and constructed out of them his own populism that was successful in winning both a degree of popular support and intellectual and elite support.
Sina Arnold (Achinger, Arnold and Gidley)Can there be a dialogue between critical theories of antisemitism and critical theories of racism? 2. Feminism
The Possibility of Life between Us. Discussions around antisemitism and racism in 1980s US feminism
For the past years, feminist and queer movements and theories have been repeatedly accused of harboring deeply antizionist, if not antisemitic attitudes. And the international examples are indeed numerous. Yet there was a time in US radical feminism – a movement with international repercussions – where a heated and lively debate around antisemitism was evolving. In the early 1980s, Jewish women were visible and demanded to be heard. Based on an analysis of feminist magazines, the talk argues that this struggle against antisemitism was not hindered by, but actually enabled through some of the paradigms that are often perceived to be today’s sources of progressive antisemitism: identity politics, standpoint epistomology and antiracism. It also asks what this might mean for today’s struggles against both racism and antisemitism.
Dr. Sina Arnold is a senior researcher at the Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) and a principal investigator at the Research Institute Cohesion at Technische Universität Berlin. A social anthropologist by training, her current work focuses on contemporary antisemitism in Germany and the United States, memory politics, as well as institutional racism. Her most recent book is „From Occupation to Occupy. Antisemitism and the Contemporary American Left“ (upcoming with Indiana University Press).
Socrates NolascoAntisemitism in Brazil today (*)
This paper analyzes different types of anti-Semitic discourse both in the media as well as in academia, so as to identify how Jews are represented in each of them. My interest is to find out how these representations serve as a conduit toward understanding the subjectivity of their authors.
My studies investigate the bio-psychosocial mechanisms present in violent behavior, as well as the relationship between the spread of violence and the contradictions present in the discourses that condemn it. I identify contradictions in social discourses against violence that manipulate and distort facts in favor of a certain interest, as is the case of anti-Semitism. My hypothesis is that the bio-psychosocial mechanisms active in anti-Semitic behavior, also operate through the creation and propagation of anti-Israel clichés. This mechanism has been operating in Western culture for a long time. It has been transmitted from generation to generation through millennia.
Why do so many individuals identify with anti-Semitic discourses these days? Is anti-Semitism a cultural invention? What is the relationship between what happens in the culture and what happens inside the individual?
(*) Socrates A Nolasco, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Member of the Brazilian Academy of Philosophy, Consultant at State Penitentiary Security Department of the State of Rio de Janeiro (1980-1982), Consultant at American Psychological Association (2015-2020), Culture Director, Israeli Federation of Rio de Janeiro, Lecturer at Israeli Religious Association of Rio de Janeiro, Lecturer at Midrash Centro Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, Volunteer in Community Funding for Israel – (Keren Hayesod), Writer, last book: Education and the Male Violence of the West. Sense Publishers: Rotterdam & Boston & Taipei. 2017.
Steven BaumAntisemitic Beliefs: New Models of Transmission
“The problem is not one of history, but psychology,” observed French rabbinical scholar Isidore Loeb. The year was 1899 and he was rightfully concerned unheeded by Freud and a coterie of clinicians. With the advent of Web 2.0, there has been a major shift in number, variety and sources that disseminate antisemitic beliefs. Data collected from hate monitoring groups over the last decade throughout North America Latin America and Europe have observed roughly a doubling of antisemitic incidents. With 60% of the planet (4.7 billion persons) coming online during the same period, it seems reasonable to implicate Web 2.0. Because of this major shift in global communication. a new model of social transmission is proposed. The new model must include the underlying cultural mechanisms. I introduce the notion of an unconscious communication apparatus (UCA)–one which contains and readily transfers all the unacceptable ideas of the culture. It is the UCA which contains all fantasy, underdeveloped thoughts and unfounded beliefs e.g., superstitions, folk beliefs, stereotypes and antisemitic myths i.e., blood libel. As a belief moves from unconscious to conscious use, the UCA becomes the social voice of a nation. Heuristics –the cognitive short-cuts used to speed up decision-making activates the social voice suggesting it is automatic and innate. Cognitive scientists have identified several types of bias e.g. confirmation bias, stereotyping. Our Social Voice speaks loudest to those who most often frequent the Web. Data from a previously unpublished study viz. The Net, The News, The Hate, The Jews are compared with data from an ongoing investigation. Though preliminary those findings show support for several of the above ideas.
Steven K. Baum is an Albuquerque based clinical psychologist. In 2010, he founded the first academic journal dedicated to the multidisciplinary understanding of antisemitism (Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, 2011-2016) and currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism. He has written The Psychology of Genocide (Cambridge Univ), Antisemitism Explained (University Press), and co-edited Antisemitism in North America (Brill). His examination of cultural myths e.g. blood libel/ritual murder and its lethal consequences for Jews J’Accuse . . .Encore!: is currently under review.
Susan GreenbergThe dangers of a new Romanticism
For the last 17 years, since converting from journalist to academic, I have taught about writing practice, with a special emphasis on nonfiction narrative. From the start, I have felt that I am working against the grain, countering all the assumptions brought into the classroom about truth and knowledge, before we get to anything substantive about writing craft, or examples of good practice. Working in this genre – storytelling that makes a truth claim – one must first dispel a vast confusion about the basis on which we can say we ‘know’ something. One must also encourage an embrace of uncertainty – not as the opposite of knowledge, but as a condition of it. In that sense, the Humanities have something to learn from the STEM disciplines and about epistemology in general, in which the acknowledgment of uncertainty lies at the heart of the drive to ask questions and test our understanding.
The problems I encounter with narrative nonfiction seem very relevant to the themes of this conference, particularly an exploration of the ‘new populism’ and the spread of conspiracy thinking. They concern a squeamishness about the possibility that meaning can be pinned down or tested as true or false – what Alan Liu critiques as an ‘ethos of unknowing’. The ‘category of fact’ is deemed to have been ‘dissolved’; the recognition of doubt is taken as an admission that boundaries are not meaningful, and knowledge is impossible, rather than a marker of intermediate states such as ‘we don’t know yet’ or ‘it depends’.
I hypothesise that a hybrid romanticism has evolved so that the shift in textual authority has moved from secular institutions to a romanticised self. The seductiveness of the new romanticism lies in the comfort it provides: if knowledge is not possible, one is released from the responsibility of coming to a judgement and making a decision, however imperfect. It is a contradictory culture that invokes the emancipatory power of words – for example by celebrating blogging as the ‘unedited voice of a single person’ – but at the same time denies the potential of language to help us ascertain truths about the external world. All the world is a text, but a virtue is made of fragmentation and alienation; and so those seeking to repair the text are dismissed as naïve or reactionary. But if we devalue the importance of clarity in human communication, and are reductive about uncertainty, we close down our powers of imagination and our ability to negotiate differences.
My work with narrative nonfiction also offers some ways to push back at this romanticism, in a way that might be suggestive for all counter-conspiracy discourse. This includes a model that distinguishes not only between objectivity and neutrality, but also between alienated and non-alienated forms of subjectivity.
Until August 2022 Susan L. Greenberg was Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Roehampton, UK, following a career in journalism and publishing, supervising research in publishing studies and in creative nonfiction. She is a founding member of the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS). Her own publications include A Poetics of Editing (2018), ‘The Ethics of Narrative’ in Journalism (2014, 15.5) and ‘The Polish School of Reportage’ in Global Literary Journalism (2012).
Tami PetersonThe Hard Truth About Soft-Core Denial: How Antizionist Antisemitism Skews Holocaust Memory
“Survey finds shocking lack of Holocaust knowledge among millennials and Gen Z” reads one recent headline. “Nearly two-thirds of US young adults unaware 6m Jews killed in the Holocaust” reads another. Recent surveys by the Pew Research Center and the Claims Conference have both found that knowledge of the Holocaust in the United States is in decline, particularly among younger generations. The findings of these various surveys cause a great deal of concern not just among those who study genocide but the wider population as Holocaust survivors continue to dwindle and the importance of memory becomes paramount. These results are particularly disturbing as they come at a time when Holocaust education, long thought to be the remedy to declining Holocaust knowledge, has become mainstream in the United States with a number of states mandating Holocaust education in the curriculum. In addition to surveys on Holocaust knowledge, those that look specifically at antisemitism like the Anti-Defamation League’s ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews show that a lack of Holocaust knowledge helps shape attitudes towards Jewish people in the United States. For example, not only did a recent survey find that antisemitism has been steadily on the rise in the US, but “that nearly one-in-five Americans (19 percent) believe ‘Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust,’ a disturbing finding at a time when research has shown that Americans are becoming less aware of the events of the Holocaust as time passes.”.
While much of the analysis seeking to address this obvious problem emphasizes the need for education with a focus on testimony and memory, very little work has been done to understand the ways in which antizionist antisemitism, a form of modern antisemitism largely found on the political left, contributes to the lack of Holocaust knowledge and creates susceptibility to Holocaust denial among young people.
While museums, memorials and education have all increased, recent studies show that the decline in knowledge nonetheless persists. This paper attempts to uncover the ways in which antizionist antisemitic views may contribute to this decline. It also considers the ways we may be able to stop and even reverse this trend by analyzing these political factors as a potential cause of Holocaust ignorance and misinformation. Finally, it will note the importance of the specific inclusion of education on all modern forms of antisemitism when teaching about the Holocaust as a way to actively and truly combat Holocaust denial in the present day and promote accurate Holocaust memory for future generations.
My paper begins by looking at the historiography of the concept of denial more generally and Holocaust denial specifically. I will begin with an analysis of denial as a sociological concept, citing the work of Eviatar Zerubavel and Stanley Cohen. Israel Charny’s work on genocide denial will then be considered before turning to Deborah Lipstadt’s concepts of soft-core and hard-core denial. The paper will then explore similar concepts from the work of David Hirsh before turning to the question of how this type of denial and distortion can be combatted through making education on modern forms of antisemitism, including antizionist antisemitism, a key component to existing Holocaust education and memorialization.
Denial: A Consideration of Multiple Frameworks
Making the case that anyone is engaging in Holocaust denial is a serious charge which is emotive and can be fraught with pitfalls. This is particularly true when looking at the actions of those who consider themselves antiracist and vehemently deny such charges. This is why it is important to first look at the ways in which denial as an essentially contested sociological concept has developed before we consider the way in which antizionist antisemitism can descend into Holocaust denial.
In his work The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel looks at the ways in which silence and denial are already embedded in much of our modern culture. This can be seen in a range of issues that can cause embarrassment or shame such as sex and sexuality, alcoholism, nepotism, up to and including being a witness of violence and genocide. These “conspiracies of silence” have properties that are formalized and institutionalized within society and are therefore collaborative in nature. Yet despite these rules, there are always those who act as “silence breakers”.
Cohen’s Three Forms of Denial
Looking specifically at denial surrounding atrocities and suffering, Stanley Cohen’s States of Denial considers the ways in which denial works at a personal level, but especially at the societal level. All denial is not of the same type. There are three main forms of denial according to Cohen; literal, interpretive and implicatory. When considering Holocaust denial, the following are examples of each type: literal denial “the Holocaust never happened”, interpretive denial “the Holocaust happened but not in the way you think it did” and implicatory denial “the Holocaust happened but there are more important issues to think about”.
Charny’s Classification of Denials: The Six Types
Further clarification can be brought by considering the framework created by Israel Charny in his work “A Classification of Denials of the Holocaust and Other Genocides” where he attempts to create a “comprehensive model of different types of denial” in order to combat denial as a whole. According to Charny’s classification there are six major types of denial with multiple subtypes. These are: malevolent denial – denial by perpetrators and those who deny because of bigotry; self-serving opportunism – denial in the service of personal, professional or political gain; ‘innocent’ denials – denial which manipulates evidence and relativizes facts in the service of denial while claiming to “simply be asking questions”; definitionalism – denial by pedantic disavowals of defining cases as genocide through numbers games and semantics; nationalistic hubris of self-involvement which justify exclusion of others – denial which ignores or downplays the genocide of another people through not knowing, not caring or justifying indifference and human shallowness – denial through banalization of genocidal events and fetishization of or fascination with violence and genocide.
Lipstadt’s Framework Hard-core and Soft-core Holocaust Denial
After considering both Cohen and Charny’s frameworks it is useful to turn towards an even more recent work which tackles the complex topic of Holocaust denial and helps to illuminate additional modern forms of denial. This is found in the work of historian Deborah Lipstadt. Lipstadt is best known for her work on antisemitism, Holocaust denial and winning against David Irving’s unsuccessful attempt to sue her for libel when she called him a Holocaust denier in her book Denying the Holocaust. In her latest book on antisemitism she looks at different types of denial that she defines as hard-core and soft-core denial.
The section on hard-core denial is titled “A Matter of Antisemitism, Not History” and tackles the arguments of neo-Nazi and revisionist Holocaust denial that denies the gas chambers existed at Auschwitz, claims that Hitler didn’t know about the ‘Final Solution’ or that Anne Frank’s Diary is a fake. This type of denial is a combination of Cohen’s literal denial and interpretive denial types as well as the first four of the six types highlighted by Charny: malevolent, self-serving opportunism, ‘innocent denials’ and definitionalism. This “hard-core” denial is more easily recognizable as denial and has traditionally been associated with revisionist, conservative, far right and rightwing antisemitic views.
When considering one of the key issues of the paper, why Gen Z and Millennials have an increasing lack of Holocaust knowledge, we must allow that it is possible that it is due to this hard-core denial gaining traction on social media in recent years through meme culture and other avenues. Given that younger generations are also a primary demographic for social media use, it’s important to consider the ways in which these rightwing beliefs and arguments have resurfaced for new generations and may have undue influence upon them. However younger generations that continue to show an increasing lack of Holocaust knowledge skew heavily to the left of the political spectrum. Presumably, these generations would be less susceptible to rightwing memes and arguments. Might it be possible that we are missing newer forms of antisemitism and Holocaust denial that are contributing to this ignorance and misinformation about the Holocaust among younger generations through information that appeals to their left-leaning ideals?
Like denial, both antisemitism and antizionism are essentially contested concepts and therefore difficult to define. However, what we are concerned with here is the ways in which antisemitism can present itself in the arguments of the modern antizionist movement and have a material impact on Holocaust memory and knowledge. In David Hirsh’s work Contemporary Left Antisemitism, he notes that if antisemitism is understood as racism, then the understanding as it is applied to other forms of racism should mean that what matters is “what people do and of what consequences their actions have.” What is materially acted out as well as the result of that action is the important part of understanding the harm done by antisemitism, regardless of the source of that behavior.
Hirsh utilizes the work of Ben Cohen who referred to differing types of antisemitism that, similar to Lipstadt’s definitions of denial, have both hard and soft versions. These are defined as “bierkeller and bistro antisemitism”. According to Hirsh’s interpretation of Cohen, “Bierkeller antisemitism is violent, abusive, vulgar and explicitly fueled by hatred” whereas “bistro antisemitism” is “polite, civil and sophisticated”. Antizionist antisemitism sits in the bistro space and allows a form of antisemitism to creep in to mainstream society in a more acceptable manner. Hirsh continues, “this type of antisemitism is not the first radical antisemitism to position itself as siding with the oppressed against (most of) the Jews”.
Hirsh attempts to provide a definition of modern antizionism as something that “began as a critique of the political movement for national self-determination” became “a movement to abolish an existing nation state” and after the Holocaust and establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 “matured into a worldview which re-positions Jewish wrongdoing at the centre of all that is problematic in the world”.
This helps better understand how antizionist antisemitism, despite its claims of progressive intent, can give rise to new forms of Holocaust denial and in turn, skew Holocaust memory for younger generations.
Soft-core Denial and Modern Antizionist Antisemitism
Exploring Lipstadt’s concept of soft-core denial and the way it manifests as modern antisemitism in the antizionist movement could be a useful tool in understanding the increasing lack of Holocaust knowledge among younger generations. According to Lipstadt, many forms of soft-core denial are intertwined with antisemitism and include things like inverting the morality of the Holocaust, comparing Jews to Nazis and claiming Jews were collaborators. Much of this type of soft-core denial has been found on the political left in recent years. The part of Lipstadt’s book on soft-core denial begins with the section titled “Inverting Victims and Perpetrators” and explores the issue of “Holocaust inversion”. Holocaust inversion is a form of soft-core denial that switches the position of Jewish victims of the Holocaust with the Nazis. As Lesley Klaff notes with examples, Holocaust inversion “involves an inversion of reality (the Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews), and an inversion of morality (the Holocaust is presented as a moral lesson for, or even a moral indictment of ‘the Jews’).” This type of denial is both antizionist and antisemitic in character and as such can be said to be an example of antizionist antisemitism that descends into Holocaust denial.
Another type of soft-core denial is “Branding Victims as Collaborators”. This includes making false claims that Jews collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust to further their goals of creating a Jewish (Zionist) state and therefore were active participants in the expulsion and destruction of their own people. The argument that the realization of the Zionist goal of a national homeland for the Jewish people in the State of Israel was a result of collaboration with the Nazis, and therefore a fascist creation, is an antizionist antisemitic argument that discourages factual knowledge and information about the Holocaust.
The final type of soft-core denial that Lipstadt looks at is “De-Judaizing the Holocaust.” This type of modern Holocaust denial is utilized primarily by nation states to downplay their roles in the Holocaust and to punish historians and others who speak the truth about what occurred; most recently this has been seen in Hungary and Poland. It is also a legacy of the Soviet Union’s attempts to downplay the Jewish character of the Holocaust in its territory and its own legacy of antizionism that materially functioned as antisemitism against Jews in the Soviet Union.
Implicatory Denial and Soft-core Denial
Overall, soft-core denial in Lipstadt’s framework most closely aligns to Cohen’s implicatory denial definition. This in turn aligns with the final two types of denial highlighted by Charny: nationalistic hubris of self-involvement which justify exclusion of others and human shallowness. It is these types of modern denial that must be more urgently analyzed and understood when considering the Holocaust today. They are wrapped up intimately with antizionist antisemitism. If one truly believes the “Israelis are the new Nazis” that Jews were collaborators through the Zionist project in their own genocidal deaths for the sake of creating the state of Israel and that Jews have exaggerated the claims of mistreatment by various nation states and peoples during the Holocaust it’s not altogether that surprising that there is a waning interest in the Holocaust among younger generations who see themselves as torch bearers of progressive causes. If Jews are equated with this type of evil then it is unsurprising that statements like “‘Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust” can be agreed to by so many. It is wholly unsurprising that knowledge of the Holocaust continues to decline. Why study the Jews who are the cause of their own sorrows as opposed to more ‘innocent’ victims of genocide? When antisemitic attacks occur why should we be as concerned given that Jews may be themselves responsible for those attacks through their behavior, whether that behavior entails identifying as a Zionist or merely wearing a symbol of Judaism like a kippot?
As Cohen notes, with implicatory denials “there is no attempt to deny either the facts or their conventional interpretation. What are denied or minimized are the psychological, political or moral implications that conventionally follow”. There is a way in which this occurs because of an overload of tragedy where the person tasked with caring says “yeah it’s terrible but what do you want me to do about it?”. There is another sense, though, in which implicatory denial can be “wholly bland and unapologetic” It is in this sense that we see Lipstadt’s concept of soft-core denial and modern antizionist antisemitism meet. Cohen notes that such responses usually include statements like “‘It doesn’t bother me’, ‘Not my problem’, ‘I’ve got better things to think about’, ‘What’s the big fuss about?’, ‘So what?’” In Cohen’s view the primary problem with implicatory denial is that “unlike literal or interpretive denial, knowledge itself is not at issue, but doing the ‘right’ thing with this knowledge. These are matters of mobilization, commitment and involvement.”
Doing ‘Something’: Holocaust Education and Memorialization
Most attempts to combat denial and declining knowledge of the Holocaust have revolved around the push for mandatory Holocaust education in schools and an increased drive to capture survivor testimony in various archives to further educate the public through memorials, museums and centers. This is undoubtedly very important work. However, is this the only form of Stanley Cohen’s call to “mobilization, commitment and involvement” that we can consider? What other ways can we mobilize and commit to actively oppose Holocaust denial?
As noted by Noah Shenker in his work Embodied Memory, one difficulty with Holocaust memory in the United States in particular is that much of the Holocaust testimony in museums and archives leans toward serving the purpose of providing a universal, redemptive message. The problematic nature of this approach is that it does not increase knowledge of the Holocaust as it really was but rather uses it as a tool for messages about redemption, hope and triumph over adversity. It ends up universalizing the Holocaust and becomes a “feel good” story divorced from the dissociative horror of the real thing. One would be hard pressed to think of a popular representation of the Holocaust the does not end with this message.
The universalization of the Holocaust in this way also increases the danger of banalization through rote, falling under Charny’s sixth classification: human shallowness. This occurs when there is a banalization of genocidal events and fetishization of or fascination with violence and genocide associated with those events. We can see how the universalization of the Holocaust message as a historical lesson of “good vs. evil” can divorce it from the issue of not only historical antisemitism, but modern forms of antisemitism that reach back to minimize the horror through both soft-core and implicatory denial. This increased universalization and banalization along with the increasing prevalence of soft-core denial makes for a toxic combination.
Study of Modern Antisemitism Key to Holocaust Education and Memorialization
Given that education and memorialization appears to only have had partial success, we must urgently consider the ways in which we can further mobilize to stop declining Holocaust knowledge. It is not enough to provide education on the Holocaust as an historical event but to answer the question of why it should still matter to younger generations. A key part of this is countering antizionist antisemitism openly and unapologetically when it descends into soft-core denial, particularly as this form of modern antisemitism cloaks itself in antiracist and progressive language that appeals to young people. To do that, we must incorporate specific modules, materials and analyses that help explain modern forms of antisemitism into every Holocaust education course, every memorial and every museum and archive. It is not enough to consider antisemitism’s impact on an understanding of the Holocaust as a question of mere historical interest.
This paper has considered the concept of denial by looking at multiple frameworks surrounding the concept in both personal and social behavior, noting the similarities between the different definitions. Newer forms of modern Holocaust denial and their connection to antisemitism and how these might remain underrecognized as forms of Holocaust denial were then analyzed. The paper then considered Holocaust education and memorialization, finding that recent evidence suggests these efforts are not slowing or suspending the decline of Holocaust knowledge, particularly among younger generations. The paper concludes that though there is an urgent need to continue the work of memorialization and education, future efforts must incorporate specific education on all forms of modern antisemitism, including antizionist antisemitism, in order to more successfully combat Holocaust denial and slow the decline in Holocaust memory.
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Tami Peterson is a current PhD Student in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Gratz College in the Untied States. She holds a Master of Research (MRes) degree in Social and Political Theory and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Politics, Philosophy and History from Birkbeck, University of London. She is LGBT, a member of the US Democratic Party and former member of the British Labour Party.
Tanja Ehmann “in the face of it” – contextualizing anchor examples form the JDA
The Jerusalem Declaration (JDA) wants to provide „guidance to identify and fight
antisemitism while protecting free expression“. Therefore guidelines were
established and anchor examples listed to help the interpretation of contents
related to Israel and Palestine. In my presentation I want to give meaning to
some of the anchor examples and analyze statements which where posted in the
context of the DJs for Palestine campaign in Berlin. Mostly all of the JDAs
examples for „in the face of it are not antisemitic“ are part of the campaign.
To contextualize the examples, I use ethnographical methods and situate
statements from DJs for Palestine in the field by reflecting on the process of
interaction, transformation of meaning within specific spaces and by taking
consequences for receivers, their practices and the cultural sphere itself into
account. To highlight the consequences and quality of interactions caused by
the DJs for Palestine campaign, I use the Annotation Portal from Gunther Jikeli
et. al. (2021).
This abstract presents work in process but it aims to identify „reconfigurations of
the Jewish Question“ in a pop cultural context and to show that it „lies in the rise
of negative representations of Israel and Zionism“ (Fine, 2017:111).
Tanja Ehmann holds a PhD in Educational Science. She is an academic in the field of political
education and research methods for Social Professionals. She currently works at the Catholic
University of Applied Social Sciences, Berlin and is lecturer at the University of Applied
Sciences, Department Social Work, Potsdam.
Tim StosbergOnce victims themselves”. Edward Said’s Orientalism and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Edward Said’s Work Orientalism is commonly seen as one of postcolonial theory’s earliest and most important texts. In his work Said focuses on unveiling misconceptions of the oriental world and power aspirations within western academia and culture in general. Despite his critics, Said remains especially popular in postcolonial discourses and even researchers on
antisemitism – like Derek Penslar – refer to his arguments. Said’s later work – primarily his
essays The Question of Palestine and Covering Islam – yet have attained far less attention than
Orientalism. However, it is necessary to consider his perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict to
adequately understand his argument on Orientalism and vice-versa. I will argue that in The
Question of Palestine– in contrast to his proposed anti-essentialist motives – Said constructs an essentialist perspective on the conflict by seeing Zionism as a purely orientalist ideology and
thus he contributes to a postcolonial competition of victimhood. In this context, I will examine
his literally read conception of antisemitism as a phenomenon that historically targeted Jews
and Arabs alike, although the first cease to be victims by adopting Zionism. To summarize, my
aim is to show that Said’s work contributes to trends within postcolonial theory in which
antisemitism is relativized and the Jewish state delegitimized and demonized.
KEYWORDS | Antisemitism, Antizionism, Edward Said, Orientalism, Postcolonial Theory
TIM STOSBERG | M.A., Political Science, International Relations/Peace- and Conflict Studies at University of Bremen, Goethe-University Frankfurt, TU Darmstadt and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, is currently working as a researcher at the Frankfurter
Forschungszentrum Globaler Islam (FFGI) and is faculty member of the Institute for
Anthropology at the Goethe-University Frankfurt. His research focuses mainly on antisemitism, Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Islamism.
Tomer Aldubi (FOA)Fighting Antisemitism online
While Antisemitism has been a constant, long-lasting feature of human history, its public
expressions have become less socially acceptable since the Second World War in different
parts of the world. With the rise in popularity and internet accessibility, social media’s user base and applications have diversified. No longer predominantly used by young adults for social interactions, persons of all ages utilize social media to share information and engage with content. Antisemites also took to social media to express their hateful views. Shielded by
anonymity, and as the platforms haven’t fully adopted the IHRA working definition of
antisemitism, the spread of misinformation proliferates. Antisemitic and malicious content,
including conspiracy theories, racial slurs, content promoting violence against Jews,
Holocaust denial, and ‘New Antisemitism’ (antisemitism related to the State of Israel), surged
against the backdrop of the covid-19 pandemic across the globe. While Covid-related
lockdowns decreased the number of physical antisemitic incidents, virtual antisemitic activity
The presentation constitutes an overview of findings originating in FOA’S reports from the
last 18 months. Reports explore contemporary trends pertaining to online antisemitism across
several social media outlets and languages. We survey manifestations of antisemitism
alongside the various narratives expressed.
Fighting Online Antisemitism (FOA) is a non-profit organization founded in early 2020. Its
goal is to combat online antisemitism through volunteer training, reporting cyber online hate
speech, raising awareness of the phenomena of cyberhate, and promoting cooperation
between GOs, NGOs, civic society, and social media platforms.
FOA is especially committed to detecting and removing antisemitic content (according to
the IHRA definition of antisemitism) in multiple languages from the most popular social
media platforms. Additionally, FOA maintains a database of manifestations of online
antisemitism. Such data is utilized in periodic reports examining contemporary trends about
online antisemitism on social media and removal rates of hateful content across various
platforms. Founded in Israel, FOA’s staff and volunteers operate globally.
FOA volunteers manually monitor and report antisemitic content daily, in multiple
languages (including English, Arabic, Spanish, German, and French) and across seven social
media platforms. When hateful content isn’t taken down immediately, FOA steps in, directly
approaches the social platforms, and propels them to take action. Such involvement has led to
an increase of over 100% in the antisemitic content removal rate in FOA’s first year of
Tomer Aldubi (presenter)
Tomer is the founder and executive director of Fighting Online Antisemitism, a journalist and
theater director (B.A., in Theatre Directing, Tel Aviv University). As the grandson of
Holocaust survivors, Tomer’s understanding of the profound and devastating effects of
antisemitism and racial hatred motivated him to found FOA. Tomer lectures regarding
cyberhate and various methods of monitoring online antisemitism. Tomer previously served
as a Jewish Agency Representative in NY, USA (Schenectady JCC, 2015), and as the head of
“Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism”, an Israeli students’ program of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and the National Union of Israeli Students (2017-2018).
Torkel BrekkeAntisemitism and the far-left in Norway
The author is currently undertaking the first research-based study of anti-Zionism and antisemitism on the far-left in Norway from 1967 to the present. It will result in a book coming out early 2023. This paper will be an introduction to some of the main findings coming out of the present work, which is based on extensive research with archival material of far-left parties and pro-Palestinian groups in Norway. Norway is a small country at the edge of Europe with a Jewish population of around 2000 people. Nevertheless, the Norwegian case can give insights into some of the questions about antisemitism on the left, in recent history and today, and this paper will focus on three such questions:
- How did Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda produced between the 60s and the 80s enter the worldview of the far-left in the West and how has it influenced activism and rhetoric?
- To what extent was the far-left able to influence the labor movement in the West, including labor parties and major labor unions, with anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism?
- How and why has the far-left supported and justified violence against Israeli civilians on ideological and political grounds?
These questions will be answered with reference to Norwegian primary data and will hopefully contribute to filling out a small piece of the larger puzzle that is recent and contemporary anti-Zionism and antisemitism on the left of the political spectrum in Europe.
Torkel Brekke is Professor of Cultural and Religious Diversity at Oslo Metropolitan University, where he heads the Diversity Studies Centre Oslo. He is also a researcher with the Centre for Extremism Research (C-REX) at the University of Oslo and the liberal think tank Civita. He has previously been a professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and at the University of Oxford.
William BrusteinWhy do you think they call it the oldest hatred?: Antisemitism, Past & Present
In my earlier research on European antisemitism (see Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust and The Socialism of Fools?: Leftist Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism—both published by Cambridge University Press) leading up to the Holocaust, I proposed that spatial and temporal antisemitism could to a large degree be explained through the dissemination of four principal anti-Jewish tropes: religious, economic, racial and political—tropes that were triggered by immigration flows, economic crises, and Jewish identification with allegedly subversive political movements and parties. To test my model for several European countries with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, my international team collected and analyzed data on antisemitic acts from the American Jewish Yearbook (1899 to 1939) and conducted content analysis of principal daily newspapers (1899 to 1939). I am currently using the model employed (tropes and triggers) to explain the current resurgence of antisemitism in the West (Europe and the U.S.). In particular, I find that my model offers new insights into both current left-wing and right-wing antisemitism as well as steps needed to combat antisemitism both inside and outside of academia.
On July 1, 2020 William I. Brustein stepped down as Vice President for Global Strategies and International Affairs at West Virginia University to assume the position of Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of History. As the former Vice President for Global Strategies and International Affairs he dedicated himself to fully integrating international and multicultural experiences into the academic units within the university and expanding and enhancing its global reach. Dr. Brustein has spent his administrative career focused on international education and has extensive leadership experience in building international partnerships. Before coming to West Virginia University in 2016, he was the Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs and President of The Ohio State University Global Gateways, an arm of OSU’s Office of International Affairs under which the institution opened offices in Shanghai, Mumbai, and São Paulo. Professor Brustein has published widely in the areas of political extremism and ethnic/religious/racial prejudice. Brustein’s book The Logic of Evil: The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925-1933 (Yale University Press) was named the winner of the 1997 James S. Coleman Distinguished Contribution to Rational-Choice Scholarship from the American Sociological Association. He has previously served as president of the Association of International Education Administrators, chair of NAFSA’s International Education Leadership Knowledge Community and chair of the Senior International Officers of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. He is also the recipient of the 2013 Charles Klasek Award for outstanding service to the field of international education administration by the Association of International Education Administrators and an inaugural inductee in the National Academy for International Education.
Zbyněk TarantHolocaust Appropriation in Anti-Mask Protests – A New Challenge to IHRA Definition?
To our misfortune, antisemitism develops more quickly than our legal and scholarly definitions of it. Its fluidity was again aptly demonstrated during the anti-mask and anti-vaccination protests across Europe. Along with the antisemitic conspiracy myths, such as „plandemic“, or the belief that vaccines are meant to sterilize the world population, there were cases of abuse of Holocaust-related symbolism and iconography by the protesters, such as wearing yellow Stars of David, comparing epidemiological measures to Nuremberg laws and comparing vaccine mandate to the Nazi genocidal program. My presentation will explore the ideological and quasi-religious background of these myths, many of which have roots in the scene of Western Esotericism. As my presentation will argue, these incidents stretch our current definitions of antisemitism and some are not even covered by them. For example, the IHRA definition has no provision that would recognize such cases of Holocaust Appropriation in anti-vaxxer discourse as antisemitic, despite their harmful impact on Jewish life and tendency to banalize the horrors of the Shoah. Is it time to update the IHRA definition?
Zbyněk Tarant, Ph.D. is a Czech anthropologist focusing on issues of Holocaust memory, Czech-Jewish relations and contemporary antisemitism. He has researched and published about contemporary antisemitism since 2006. His specialty is monitoring of cyber-hate and analysis of emerging threats in the contemporary Central European antisemitism.