In Zion's hall of mirrors: a comment on Neuer Antisemitismus?
Beller's review article takes as its starting point the essays published in a recent collection exploring the question of a 'new antisemitism'. He claims that this debate has generated more heat than light. Warnings about the rise of a new antisemitism in Europe, especially on the left, are greatly exaggerated, largely unjustified and approach a form of psychological 'projection'. Anti-Zionism is not necessarily antisemitism. Zionism is an ethnonationalist ideology and, as such, contradicts the universalist logic of the socialist and liberal left; the enthusiastic support for Israel by European socialist parties from 1948 until the 1970s was anomalous. Nevertheless, the recent critical approach taken by the liberal European media to Israeli policy is not usually anti-Zionist, but rather holding Israel to its own high moral standards. If there is conflation between anti-Zionist and antisemitic attitudes this reflects the similarly conflating Zionist belief that Israel is the expression of the Jewish people's right to national self-determination. Some manifestations of Arab/Muslim anti-Zionism do indeed exhibit the worst forms of antisemitism. However, there are reasons for this hostility. Heated assertions decrying the denial of the right of Israel to exist are distractions from the very problematic issues raised by Arab grievances. A deeper question here involves the conflict between the Muslim world and two forms of western modernity: neo-conservative, uniform, nationally based rationalism; and the more 'postmodern', critical and pluralist tradition of European (and American) left/liberal intellectuals. Ironically, current American and Israeli policy now represents the former 'modernity', while the latter, critical tradition derives to a great extent from the experience of the Jewish diaspora. The diasporic Jewish tradition is the model to which Israel and its supporters should look to secure Israel's peaceful, sustainable future.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2007-05-01