Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident, political prisoner, and now Israeli cabinet minister has an excellent history of the concept of anti-Semitism from ancient to modern times. It’s a well-researched history of the subject, and gives a very telling view of the way in which anti-Semitism has been an all-too-common bias worldwide. From the persecutions of Jews in fascist Europe in the 1930’s to Mikis Theodorakis’ virulent and disgusting anti-Semitic statements today, anti-Semitism has not disappeared with the destruction of the Third Reich. Indeed, as Sharansky notes:
Despite the differences between them, however, anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and anti-Americanism in Europe are in fact linked, and both bear an uncanny resemblance to anti-Semitism. It is, after all, with some reason that the United States is loathed and feared by the despots and fundamentalists of the Islamic world as well as by many Europeans. Like Israel, but in a much more powerful way, America embodies a different—a non-conforming—idea of the good, and refuses to aban don its moral clarity about the objective worth of that idea or of the free habits and institutions to which it has given birth. To the contrary, in undertaking their war against the evil of terrorism, the American people have demonstrated their determination not only to fight to preserve the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity, but to carry them to regions of the world that have proved most resistant to their benign influence.
Anti-Semitism has found a new home in Europe, not just with the radical right of Jean-Marie Le Pen, but in the equally radical left in Jose Bove and others. Unfortunately for the world, the attitude that it’s all the fault of those damned Jews is all too common in Europe from Greta Duisenberg on down. Sharansky’s history of anti-Semitism does an excellent job of elucidating the roots of this ancient and despicable prejudice, a knowledge that can help combat it today.