One of the puzzles of anti-Semitism is that it has managed, in its various forms, to attract believing Christians, believing Muslims, secular racists, devotees of the far left and far right, and—in its most modern form, hatred of the Jewish state—progressives who claim to stand for tolerance. Moshe Koppel suggests an answer:
In a word, the Jews are messiah-killers. But not that messiah.
Think about the vibe the world gets from [the traditional Jewish attitude]—and from Israel. It goes something like this: we Jews have our ways. We eat differently, dress differently, pray differently. We’re a tribe with our own hierarchies and we look out for each other. In short, we have our own moral system, including restraints and loyalties. We hold you in contempt for murdering us or, in the best case, remaining indifferent to our murder, but we’re prepared to live and let live. We won’t treat you like family, but we’ll be fair if you’ll be fair. And we’ll live this way for a good long time until our messiah comes.
[Judaism thus rests on the claim that] we can live according to our own distinct moral rules and nevertheless be fair with you.
Almost nobody wants to hear that claim. Not those Christians who wish to bring salvation now through universal acceptance of Jesus. Not Muslims who wish to bring salvation now through the restoration of the caliphate. Not racists who wish to bring salvation now by eliminating inferior races. Not enlightened philosophers who wish to bring salvation now through the triumph of reason over religion. Not post-nationalists who wish to bring salvation now through world government. Not [late-20th-century leftists] who wish to bring salvation now through freedom from the persistent demands of their former communities. Not [today’s leftists] who wish to bring salvation now through liberation from the responsibility of growing up and maintaining civilization.
They all despise [the Jews] for stubbornly standing in the way of salvation. They all share an interest in denying the very possibility of reconciling particularist traditions and loyalties with fairness to others.