Historian Jerome Chanes is a member of Partners’ executive board and a contributing editor of The Jewish Daily Forward. His latest article (“A Second Holocaust?“) reviews a collection of essays edited by Indiana University professor of English and Jewish Studies, Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives:
. . . One stellar chapter is Zvi Gitelman’s essay, “Comparative and Competitive Victimization in the Post-Communist Sphere,” a superb conspectus of anti-Semitism in Hungary and Romania. Gitelman does what every historian ought be doing: He sets a context. Gitelman connects the dots from Nazism in Central and Eastern European lands, through the years under communism, to present-day realities. His analysis is sober, hardly “gevaltist.”
But it is, unfortunately, the tone of “gevaltism” that pervades “Resurgent Antisemitism,” an unrelieved litany, a parade of horrors that is about to befall the Jews of Europe. And the book goes beyond the “gevalt.”
In his otherwise insightful analysis of recent Israeli cinema that has been harshly critical of Israeli policies and practices, film historian Ilan Avisar kvetches, “Israeli filmmakers prefer to bathe in the glory of the awards ceremonies and to ignore the possible political damage [wrought by their films].” It’s a cheap shot. The filmmakers are making their statements, appropriate in a democratic society, via their medium; they talk about war and peace, social justice, and other issues. Avisar’s unfortunately purple prose reflects, in part, the thrust of the book.
Another problem with “Resurgent Antisemitism” is not what the book says, but what it does not say. Whatever is going on out there with respect to the hijacking of Islam by the crazies, resultant Muslim anti-Semitism in some countries and the threat of resurgent Nazism in others — all of which is ably documented in Rosenfeld’s volume — left begging is a discussion at some level of the distinction between anti-Semitism and Jewish security.
Whatever is out there in terms of anti-Semitic behavior may or may not implicate the security of Jews — the ability of Jews to participate in the society — in various lands. This central dynamic, little discussed in the context of European anti-Semitism, is missing from “Resurgent Antisemitism.” The thesis of “Resurgent Antisemitism,” while relentlessly argued in the book, is therefore open to question. . . . [Click here for this entire article.]
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