The Thread of Anti-Semitism

(Boston Globe) James Carroll - * Is criticism of the State of Israel anti-Semitic? Recent developments, including European critiques of Zionism as mere colonialism, American talk of a "lobby" that carries echoes of "cabal" (a word derived from kabbalah), and the return among Arabs of rhetoric calling for the outright elimination of Israel, suggest that contempt for Jews and the Jewish state can involve more than meets the eye. * Hostility to the very presence of Jews in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean goes deep into the unconscious of Western civilization, and it is only recently that pins of that antagonism are being removed. One way to understand this is to review the history of a Christian theology that required the exile of Jews from the Holy Land precisely as a proof of religious claims. Antagonism toward Jewish presence in Palestine dominated the Western imagination for 1,500 years. * Now the dark energy of this tradition has been efficiently tapped by many Muslims, even though its underlying theology is irrelevant to Islam. Any appropriation, including by Palestinians, of what has proven across centuries to be perhaps the most lethal impulse to which humans have ever succumbed must be roundly condemned. * Anti-Semitism, with its racial overtones, is a modern phenomenon. Contempt for Jews and Judaism is ancient. Such impossible threads weave invisibly through attempts to reckon with Israel's dilemma, forming a rope that trips up the well-intentioned and the unaware, even as others use it, as so often before, to fashion a noose.

2006-04-04 00:00:00

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