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Steve Hinnefeld
IU Communications

Last modified: Monday, June 24, 2013

Book from Indiana University scholar explores emergence of 'new antisemitism'

June 24, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Nazism was defeated nearly 70 years ago, but the Allied victory in World War II didn't put an end to antisemitism, says Alvin Rosenfeld, the Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.

And in recent years, new forms of virulent antisemitism -- tied not so much to religious and racial hatred but more to politics and ideology -- have emerged in force in Europe, parts of the Muslim world and South America.

"The fact remains that hostility to Jews is very strong in many places," Rosenfeld said. "Synagogues are sometimes attacked, so are Jewish schools and so are Jews on the street.

Rosenfeld is the editor of "Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives," a new book from Indiana University Press that explores the phenomenon comprehensively and in incisive detail. It comprises research findings and scholarship presented in April 2011 at the inaugural conference of IU's Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, which Rosenfeld founded and directs.

Older forms of Jew-hatred, Rosenfeld writes in the introduction, "no longer are considered respectable or persuasive" in the aftermath of the Holocaust. But a new antisemitism has taken their place, with manifestations that include Holocaust denial, attempts to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel, and the unfounded blaming of Jews and Israel for many of the world's problems.

"One can recognize commonalities in anti-Jewish actions and utterances wherever they appear, but these unfold differently in Oslo and Paris than in Istanbul and Tehran," he writes. "Blaming the Jews, accusing the Jews, excoriating and demonizing the Jews, holding the Jews to a different standard of behavior -- these are constants that will be familiar to observers of antisemitism."

Alvin Rosenfeld

Alvin Rosenfeld

"Resurgent Antisemitism" brings together work by 19 of the world's leading scholars, who come from a dozen countries. They examine the dynamics and motivations behind contemporary antisemitism in England, France, Spain, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Iran and elsewhere. Contributors include Bernard Harrison, who writes about "rhetorical manipulation" in criticism of Israel; Matthias Küntzel, who explores the relationship between Arab antisemitism and the Middle East conflict; and Robert S. Wistrich, who investigates connections between radical Islam and the political left.

Rosenfeld concludes the volume with a chapter that addresses the danger of ignoring the rise of antisemitism. Touching on themes from his 2011 book "The End of the Holocaust," he suggests the fading memory of German atrocities have led to a willingness to disregard threats against the Jews -- as when Iran's president says, "The Zionist regime will be wiped out, and humanity will be liberated."

"Few people took Hitler at his word when he voiced precisely such sentiments three generations ago," he writes. "The result was Auschwitz -- a warning from the past and, to some, a coveted possibility for the future."

Rosenfeld discusses the book in an IU Press video. To speak with him, contact Steve Hinnefeld, IU Communications, at 812-856-3488 or