The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism; Little Pride, Much Prejudice around the globe.(OPED)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 8, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism; Little Pride, Much Prejudice around the globe.(OPED)


Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Prejudice, like politics, is local. It breeds like mosquitoes beside a stagnant pond where the bites need scratching. That's why every wave of immigration ushers in its own form of prejudice, because the latest ethnic group to arrive competes for jobs with those locals who are the most economically insecure.

There are exceptions, of course, where prejudice flows across national boundaries and taps into the hatred of larger populations with less specific reasons to be threatened. Anti-Semitism is one of those obvious exceptions. While it comes and goes like waves at the ocean front, anti-Semitism never completely stops its ebb and flow on the global map. The history of the last century is a dramatic reminder of all that.

The Nazis may have initiated the Holocaust, making the Jews a scapegoat for inflation and poverty after World War I, but they couldn't have been so successful in their attempt to exterminate them if they hadn't had lots of help from East European friends. Franklin Roosevelt, on this side of the ocean, was loath to go public with information over the murder of the Jews in Germany before Pearl Harbor, because he didn't want to set off the arguments of a vocal group of anti-war anti-Semites in America who would try to make U.S. entry into the war in Europe look as though it was in defense of Jews. His State Department was muted on the atrocities of the concentration camps, for which they had ample evidence during the war, because it wanted no extra sympathy exerted on behalf of saving Jews. "It's always something," as Gilda Radner used to say.

The English, who never had many Jews in their midst, nevertheless felt a strong antipathy toward them. Both Shakespeare's Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" and Dickens' Fagan in "Oliver Twist" drew on anti-Semitic stereotypes for emotional shortcuts to arouse audience and reader aversion for fictional villains.

The Jew, it seems, is easy for others to caricature whether victim or survivor. So "the lambs who went to their slaughter" at Auschwitz in one grossly unfair characterization, have been replaced with Israeli soldiers who fight back, described by an Oxford University professor in the (London) Observer magazine as "the Zionist SS." The comparison of the Jews to the Nazis is commonplace among Palestinian sympathizers in Europe and the Middle East. It is especially virulent among European intellectuals and journalists who attempt to camouflage their anti-Semitism in political virtue as a defense of the Palestinian "victims. …

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