Moral Outrage
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Anti-Semitism definition and modern day application

The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, is facing an intense campaign by hard-line pro-Israel voices in the U.S. who want him fired over remarks he made about anti-Semitism late last month.

Gutman, an Obama fundraiser-turned-ambassador, as well as a Jew and child of a Holocaust survivor, was addressing a Brussels conference devoted to combating anti-Semitism in Europe last month … and described what might be called classical anti-Semitism:

“There is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating. Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different. That hatred is of course pernicious and it must be combated. We can never take our eye off it or just dismiss it as fringe elements or the work of crazy people, because we have seen in the past how it can foment and grow.”

This type of anti-Semitism, he said, rears its head from time to time, but does not appear to be growing. But there is another phenomenon, Gutman argued, that is on the rise.

“It is the problem within Europe of tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews. It is a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.

“It too is a serious problem. It too must be discussed and solutions explored. No Jewish student – and no Muslim student or student of any heritage or religion – should ever feel intimidated on a University campus for their heritage or religion leading to academic leaders quitting in protest. No high school or grammar school Jewish student – and no Muslim high school or grammar school student or student of any heritage or religion – should be beaten up over their heritage or religion.

“But this second problem is in my opinion different in many respects than the classic bigotry – hatred against those who are different and against minorities generally — the type of anti-Semitism that I discussed above. It is more complex and requiring much more thought and analysis. This second form of what is labeled ‘growing anti-Semitism’ produces strange phenomena and results.”

He then goes on to explore how this problem might be addressed, including by a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Adam Serwer at Mother Jones makes the crucial point: “Gutman’s suggestion that anti-Semitism would subside if a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be reached isn’t the same as saying Israelis or Jews are ‘responsible’ for anti-Semitism.”

The Community Service Trust, a thoroughly mainstream British organization that specializes in the study of anti-Semitism and providing security for Jews similarly concluded in its annual survey on anti-Semitic incidents in the U.K., “It cannot be ignored that much contemporary anti-semitism takes place in the context of, or is motivated by, extreme feelings over the Israel/Palestine issue.”

[Excerpts of a Salon article by Justin Elliott]

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One Response to “Anti-Semitism definition and modern day application”

  1. […] the Jewish community lives in vigilance against terrorism and anti-Semitic attacks 24/7/365 days a year,” said […]


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