Anti-Semitism Is Not Like Other Forms of Prejudice

Reviewing an exhibit on anti-Semitism between the world wars at the New-York Historical Society, and another at the Center for Jewish History on the Nazis’ despoliation of Jewish property in Berlin, Edward Rothstein considers what makes hatred of Jews different from other hatreds:

Nazi analogies are too regularly invoked to simplify argument; and anti-Semitism is too often generalized, treated as another variety of racism. [But] I am struck by how singular anti-Semitism is, how cunning the Nazi use of it was, and how different it is from racism, with which it is often confused.

Of course, the Nazis calculatedly turned Judaism into a racial matter. . . . But if race can be an element of anti-Semitism, it is not the main point. For the Nazis it was an indicator of connection and collusion. Is there any other form of group hatred so preoccupied with conspiracy? The Jew, in this view, has hidden powers. The Jew is capable of imposing the Versailles treaty, devaluing currency, and manipulating commerce. . . .

These beliefs might seem beyond contemporary imagining. Yet today similar assertions have attached themselves to Israel—a Jew among nations. Arab media regularly invoke Nazi caricatures and references. Recently, the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone also suggested that Zionism and Nazism shared support from Hitler—adding to a string of comments by Labor leaders caricaturing Israel as uniquely satanic.

But there is no need to look so far afield. At Oberlin College, . . . [a] professor . . . accused “Rothschild-led banksters” of “implementing the World War III option” by shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine; and she attacked Jews and the Mossad for funding Islamic State. Such accusations are taken from Der Stürmer’s play book. . . . The Oberlin professor, unrepentant, has treated accusations of anti-Semitism as attempts to silence her by the very conspiracy she was drawing attention to.

Clearly, the virus thrives. No exaggerated Nazi analogies are needed to reveal the similarities.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Museums, Nazism

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas