November 22, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10334

Indian Writer Mira Patel Examines Global Antisemitism

November 22, 2022
Special Dispatch No. 10334

In a recent article in a leading Indian newspaper, Indian writer Mira Patel examined the rise of antisemitism worldwide. Mira Patel's article, titled "What Is Antisemitism And Why Is It Finding A New Voice Across The Globe?" was published in the wake of a series of controversial tweets by the superstar rapper Kanye West, whose online comments were deemed to be antisemitic, causing major corporations such as Adidas to sever their ties with him.[1]

Reports of antisemitism occasionally appear in India. Indian activists, working against Israel under the umbrella of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, have accused Israel of being "an ally of Iran,"[2] an Islamic scholar has blamed Jews for making movies that advance heresy,[3] and the magazine "Dalit Voice" published anti-Jewish conspiracy theories under the editor V.T. Rajshekhar.[4]

Mira Patel's article educates the Indian public about global antisemitism in all of its aspects and examines its long history.

Following are excerpts from the article:

"With The Rise Of The Right In Europe, The Escalation Of Ethnic Tensions In The Middle East, And The Increasing Anonymity Provided By Social Media Platforms, Antisemitism Is Once Again A Pressing Matter Of Concern"

"Clothing giant Adidas recently announced that it would be cutting all ties with Kanye West, now known as Ye, following a series of concerning comments made by the rapper. Over the last few years, Ye's behavior has become increasingly erratic, causing him to lose lucrative partnerships with brands like Balenciaga and Gap. However, for Adidas, the breaking point was a series of tweets by Ye that were widely deemed to be Antisemitic.

"Although there has been much backlash in response to Ye's comments, many point out that he is not the only public figure to seemingly hold a prejudice against Jews. While Antisemitism has existed for centuries, following the Holocaust many governments enacted laws limiting the practice in public forums. Now, with the rise of the right in Europe, the escalation of ethnic tensions in the Middle East, and the increasing anonymity provided by social media platforms, Antisemitism is once again a pressing matter of concern.

"What Is Antisemitism?

"Plainly, Antisemitism refers to any form of prejudice against the Jewish people. However, the term itself is a misnomer as Semitic designates a language group, not a race. Though Antisemitism can linguistically be used to describe a prejudice against speakers of the Semitic languages (including Arabs and Ethiopians,) in practical terms, it is commonly used specifically to pertain to Jews.

"According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organisation formed in 1998, the following should be used as a working definition of Antisemitism: 'Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of an Antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.'"

"Racial Antisemitism, Most Commonly Associated With The Nazis, Stems From A Belief That Jews Are A Distinct, Inferior Race With Inherent Genetic Traits"

"Michael Berenbaum, a professor and rabbi who is the former project director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, expands upon that definition, citing five distinct categories of Antisemitism, namely, racial, religious, social, economic, and political.

"Racial Antisemitism, most commonly associated with the Nazis, stems from a belief that Jews are a distinct, inferior race with inherent genetic traits. This form usually manifests in the belief that Jews need to be exterminated altogether.

"Religious Antisemitism traces its roots to the early days of Christianity and is accompanied by a notion that Jews should be converted to other faiths.

"Social Antisemitism is a form of exclusion of Jews from social situations. An example of the practice was reported in an article in The New York Times from 1959 that claimed that Jews in America were routinely excluded from golf and sports clubs.

"Economic Antisemitism, the most prevalent amongst the biases, posits that Jews have a disproportionate degree of control over global and national financial institutions and that their stronghold over those institutions ought to be diminished.

"Lastly, political Antisemitism is the attempt to keep Jews out of power. It is often conflated with anti-Zionism, a movement that denies the Jewish right to a national homeland. As the Jewish Virtual Library notes, often Antisemitism is masked behind a facade of criticism toward Israel. However, it is also important to differentiate legitimate criticism of the actions of the Israeli state from accusations of prejudice against Jews."

"From The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther In 1543 To The French [Sic] Philosopher Edmund Burke In 1790, Social And Political Leaders Have Positioned Jews As Scapegoats For Several Societal Ills"

"History Of Antisemitism

"Modern Antisemitism exists within the context of a historical prejudice against Jews by Christians. According to Christian doctrine, Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, and thus deserved to be punished. Adding to that belief was a fear that early Christian converts would continue to abide by Jewish practices, conflating the two faiths over time.

"According to some historians, the Adversus Judaeos (arguments against the Jews) tradition was established in 140 AD when the Christian apologist Justin Martyr engaged in a debate with Trypho the Jew. As per his own report of the conversation, he told Trypho, 'you ought to understand that (the gifts of God’s favor) formerly amongst your nation have been transferred to us.'

"This argument was wildly popular amongst Catholic leaders at the time and continued to hold relevance for centuries to follow. As the American historian David Nirenberg explains, 'anti-Judaism was a tool that could usefully be deployed to almost any problem, a weapon that could be deployed on almost every front.'

"From the Protestant reformer Martin Luther in 1543 to the French [sic] philosopher Edmund Burke in 1790, social and political leaders have positioned Jews as scapegoats for several societal ills. Throughout early, middle, and late history, Jews have systematically been driven out of countries including England, Yemen, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, and Egypt.

"During the 1870s, this political and religious Antisemitism was compounded by racial Antisemitism, largely due to the works of Charles Darwin. Interpreting Darwin's theory of evolution to mean that race was inherent and unchangeable, Antisemites argued that Jews were genetically inferior on an evolutionary scale. This argument was also used to justify discrimination against colonial subjects and blacks in America."

"Between 1880 And 1910, 2.5 Million Jews Fled From Russia To The U.S. After Anti-Semitism Became The Official Government Policy Under The Rule Of The Czars"

"Other examples of Antisemitism from that period include the 1890 Dreyfus Affair in France in which a Jewish army officer was falsely accused of treason, igniting a fierce debate about the loyalties of Jews to their home countries. Additionally, between 1880 and 1910, 2.5 million Jews fled from Russia to the U.S. after Antisemitism became the official government policy under the rule of the Czars. This exodus was not without precedent – until 1772, Jews were banned from living in the Russian Empire altogether.

"Controversially, there is also a theory known as positive Antisemitism, which claims that in certain instances, Jews benefitted from the prejudices associated with them. In an article for the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, authors Yehuda Bauer, a historian, and Moshe Fox, a former Israeli diplomat, explain how this theory could be applied. They argue that the belief that Jews are influential or wealthy can result in 'positive Antisemitism,' because people then misconstrue their prominence in world affairs.

"The Balfour Declaration, the British Government's 1917 statement of support for the creation of a Jewish state, is one example of the phenomenon. The Declaration, Fox and Bauer write, 'was at least partly rooted in the Antisemitic view that Jews were a powerful group, the 'positive' conclusion being that they were worth luring to the British side.'

"However, while there may be some basis to that theory, there can be no doubt that the negative aspects of Antisemitism far outweigh the positive. For many, the most famous historical stain to that effect is represented by the Holocaust."

"The Notion Of Jewish Inferiority In Germany That Led To The Holocaust Can Be Traced Back To The Volkisch Movement In The Late 19th Century"

"The notion of Jewish inferiority in Germany that led to the Holocaust can be traced back to the Volkisch movement in the late 19th century. Volkisch nationalists believed that the German race, defined very narrowly in this regard, held a natural supremacy over all other races. They considered Jews to be an alien people, who belonged to a different Volk (or race) from the Germans, and who were to be blamed for undermining the German way of life.

"By the early 1900s, several Antisemitism parties sprung up in Germany, bolstered further by Germany's loss in World War One. That in turn catalysed the rise of the Nazi party and culminated in the death of over Six Million Jews by the end of the Second World War.

"After witnessing the magnitude of this genocide, world leaders committed to tackling the problem of Antisemitism, their efforts immortalised by the sombre vow, 'Never Again.' Antisemitic thought was so greatly weakened by the Nazis that even the Catholic Pope deemed the practice to be a sin. Governments began enacting laws protecting the rights of Jews, and memorials and museums emerged across the world, documenting the horrors of the Holocaust.

"However, as time goes by, and survivors of the War slowly give way to a new generation, the dangers of Antisemitism are becoming less apparent. As Jeffery Goldberg, the editor of the Atlantic Magazine, points out, what we are seeing today is an ancient and deeply embedded hostility toward the Jews as the events of the Second World War recede from our collective memory."

"[In A Global Survey] 26 Percent… Harbored Antisemitic Attitudes; While 49 Percent Of Muslims Expressed Such Beliefs, Concerningly, So Too Did 24 Percent Of Christians And 19 Percent Hindus"

"Current Instances Of Antisemitism

"From far-right demonstrators in the U.S., attacks on synagogues in Sweden, arson attacks on kosher restaurants in France, and an increase in crimes against Jews in the UK, globally, Antisemitism is exploding once again.

"According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an annual audit of Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. showed a 34 percent increase from 2020 to 2021. In Germany, the number of violent Antisemitic attacks surged by more than 60 percent in 2018 from the year before, while Antisemitic acts in France that year increased by more than 70 percent. Reports from Australia and Canada reflect a similar trend.

"In Eastern Europe, right-wing parties have taken control, rewriting Holocaust history and adopting Nazi slogans and agendas. In Western Europe, Antisemitism is prevalent amongst political parties on the left and within Muslim communities.

"Worryingly, the problem seems to be exacerbated by social media. In a journal article titled 'A Quantitative Approach To Understanding Online Antisemitism,' a collection of authors searched through hundreds of millions of comments on popular sites like 4Chan and Gab for mentions of Jews. They found that 'racial and ethnic slurs are increasing on fringe web communities,' normalising Antisemitic language and potentially fuelling attacks against Jewish communities.

"Surveys by the ADL also support the notion that Antisemitic sentiments are on the rise. In a survey of 53,000 people across 101 countries, they found that 26 percent of them harboured  Antisemitic attitudes. While 49 percent of Muslims expressed such beliefs, concerningly, so too did 24 percent of Christians and 19 percent Hindus. Overall, only 54 percent of respondents were aware of the Holocaust, with that figure dropping to 24 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 38 percent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA.)

"In the MENA region in particular, 74 percent of respondents surveyed held Antisemitic views. In Asia that number drops to 22 percent, in Western Europe 24 percent, in Eastern Europe 34 percent, and in the Americas 19 percent. Asked why people felt this way, the majority of respondents (75 percent) said they hated Jews because of the way they behaved while 74 percent said that they thought Jews were more loyal to Israel than their home countries.

"Among people familiar with all the religions tested in the survey, more are unfavourable towards Jews than toward people of any other religion."


[1], October 31, 2022. The original English of the article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.


Share this Report: