The Rise of Anti-Semitism, Real and Imagined

by on March 16th, 2004

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the rise in anti-semitism around the world. Europe is seething with it. And here, anti-semitism is causing problems as well. Just check out some of the reviews for “The Passion.” This is Chris Hitchens in Slate:

I think that it’s a healthy sign for our society that so many Jews have decided to be calm and unoffended by the film, and that so many Christians say they don’t feel any worse about Jews after having seen it. We have a social consensus where Jews feel more secure and Christians less insecure. Good. But this does not alter the fact that The Passion is anti-Semitic in intention and its director anti-Semitic by nature. Some people including myself think that Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League are too easily prone to charge the sin of anti-semitism. But if someone denies the Holocaust one day and makes a film accusing Jews of Christ-killing the next day, I have to say that if he’s not anti-Jewish then he’s certainly getting there.

I certainly worry about anti-semitism. Any discrimination based on race or religion is despicable. But Hitchens’ does hit upon another point. He notes that “Some people including myself think that Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League are too easily prone to charge the sin of anti-semitism.”

I think Hitchens may have hit upon something.

Not only is there a distinct rise in anti-semitism, but there is also a rise is unfounded charges of anti-semitism. Any frank talk about Israel must deal with Isreal’s response to Palestinian terror. I support Israel and think what their doing is right. That isn’t the position of everyone, but that doesn’t make them, necessarily, anti-semetic.

Unfounded charges of anti-semitism not only stifle honest debate, but can prove very harmful to real claims of anti-semitism. Just check this article from the Boulder Daily Camera.

DENVER ? The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has settled a bitter 1994 defamation case by paying $12.1 million to a former Colorado couple it accused of being anti-Semitic.

William and Dorothy Quigley won a jury judgment in 2000, but the case was appealed the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court declined to hear the case.

Here’s the story behind “the story”…

The dispute began in 1994, when Mitchell and Candace Aronson moved into a house near the Quigleys in Evergreen, just west of Denver. The families clashed and the Aronsons claimed it was because they were Jewish.

The Aronsons sought help from the ADL after overhearing the Quigleys’ comments on a cordless telephone, a signal that was picked up by the Aronson’s police scanner.

They said they heard the Quigleys discuss a campaign to drive them from the upscale neighborhood with Nazi scare tactics, including tossing lamp shades and soap on their lawn and putting pictures of Holocaust ovens on their house.

Based on recordings of those calls, they sued the Quigleys in federal court, Jefferson County prosecutors charged the Quigleys with hate crimes and Saul Rosenthal, then the ADL’s regional director, denounced the Quigleys as anti-Semites in a press conference.

Authorities later discovered the recordings were illegal under new federal wiretap restrictions. Criminal and civil complaints filed by the Aronsons were eventually dropped or dismissed and the Quigleys counter sued the ADL.

It seems like the anti-semitism is real. But by overstepping their bounds and calling the Quigleys anti-semetic at a press conference. The Anti Defamation League undermined their point and the Aronson’s case. They also find themselves in real trouble, having to pay the Quigleys 12-million dollars.

Did this help the quest to rid the World of anti-semitism? I think not.

And that’s the issue. By shouting anti-semitism at everything that one disapproves, the charge is made weaker. And when people finally believe that all the Anti Defamation League does is “cry wolf”, real anti-semitism will have won.

Darren Copeland