What “The Merchant of Venice” Can Tell Us about Modern Anti-Semitism

To make sense of Israel’s trial for genocide at the International Court of Justice, Marco Roth turns to the trial of the moneylender Shylock, and Shakespeare’s portrayal of Jews’ supposed mercilessness:

The Merchant of Venice offers up a theater of justice in the case of a Jew who is both wronged and vengeance-seeking. This Jew operates in a hypocritical Gentile world governed by Gentile laws both written and unwritten, according to which the audience judges the Jew’s case according to its own prejudices. In this way The Merchant of Venice continues to provide a paradigm for certain ideas of justice and fairness, both for Jews and about Jews.

Whatever the merits and measure of Shylock’s anger, the play also continuously invites us to find him repulsive, to jeer from his first line (“Three thousand ducats, well.”). We are to despise him—for this is what it means to be a Jew: to be despised, not for anything in particular but precisely for nothing in particular, only because a Jew.

I would suggest that a lot of what Jews have recently perceived as anti-Semitism—at least from institutions and otherwise mild-mannered advocates of boycott and sanctions and shunning—would be better understood more specifically as Shylockism, a subtype of anti-Semitism that often does not feel like “Jew hating” to those engaged in it.

Shylockism often comes across as a wish to save Jews from themselves, most especially from Jewish anger, however righteous, by making them into something else, either through assimilation/conversion (as with Shylock’s daughter, Jessica) or through an extra-legal but pseudo-legal framework—adherence to a higher law—that will ensure a happy end for everyone, once the Jews have renounced their claims.

Shylockism also effectively names the persistence of a certain kind of imaginary Jew who lives in the heads of Gentiles. [For instance]: Josep Borrell, the European Union’s head of foreign policy, used a visit to Kibbutz Be’eri to ask Israelis, “not to be consumed by rage.” . . . Borrell is basically saying “don’t be so Old Testament.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, European Union, Gaza War 2023, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security