Why Anti-Semitism Has Not Blossomed in Eastern Europe

When the totalitarian regimes of the Eastern bloc collapsed in 1989, some predicted a return of virulent anti-Semitism. Certainly, it has not disappeared. But the new governments have been overwhelmingly less hostile toward Jews than their predecessors. Paul Berman argues that this is because anti-Semitism and liberty are incompatible:

The anti-Communist revolutions of circa 1989 turned out to be one of the greatest moments of liberation the Jews have ever known: a magna-event in the history of anti-anti-Semitism, and likewise in the history of anti-anti-Semitism’s political subset, which is anti-anti-Zionism. . . .

It was liberalism that brought [this] about. Naturally not everything that took place during the East-bloc revolutions drew on liberal inspirations, which meant that, here and there, populists and priests with old-fashioned manias about the Jews rose to prominence and issued denunciations in a 1930s style, or in a 12th-century style. But the manias did not seem to get anywhere. The larger trend in Eastern Europe veered in liberal directions, even if vaguely; and a malign obsession with the Jews is antithetical to the liberal principle.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Communism, Eastern Europe, European Jewry, Ukraine, Vaclav Havel


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict