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Posted in: Anti-Semitism

Published on Jan 11, 2015 by Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Written for The Jewish Press

The New Anti-Semitism: Chesler Forces Our Eyes to See, Our Ears to Hear


When Phyllis Chesler first published The New Anti-Semitism more than a decade ago, it was a glowing lamp in the darkening night.

Since that time, The Jewish Press readers know that much has gotten worse. Anti-Semitism is louder, more widely and brazenly espoused, with less shame, than it had been in decades.

More people can now see what Chesler has seen all along, but far too many remain blind.

The essence of the new Anti-Semitism, Chesler explains, differs from the old in the way in which the center-to-hard left has taken up the cudgels, thereby making anti-Semitism (which includes the unalloyed hatred of the Jewish State) acceptable, even required, for those who hold themselves out as anti-colonialist, anti-racist, anti-imperialists.

The new anti-Semitism is the marriage of the evil far-right to the slavering far-left. It is ugly and it is increasingly ubiquitous.

In this brand new edition of The New Anti-Semitism (Gefen Publishing House 2014), Chesler provides answers to some of the questions her original edition raised. What is particularly welcome is her chapter containing suggestions for action by those who have begun to realize action – decisive action – must be taken before it is too late. Those suggestions won't be found in this review, because anyone interested should buy the book and support this frontline warrior.

Much of the same ground has begun to be covered elsewhere by the few who saw the light since Chesler's first edition came out, but here is why this book is different from the other sources now mining this essential topic: this book was written by someone who was immersed in the world that now seethes with hostility to Jews and their nation. The New Anti-Semitism is written by someone with a constellation of qualities that make her uniquely credible.

Chesler's bona fides as a giant of the left are impeccable. She was one of the founding deans of the modern feminist movement, having served in the trenches with Kate Millet and Andrea Dworkin, among many others. Her longstanding and current commitment to feminism makes her accurate portrayal of the feminist movement's turning on the Jewish State so important and so poignant.

And then there's the fact that Chesler was first married to an Afghani Muslim and lived in Kabul in the family's harem (as described in her fascinating An American Bride in Kabul). Andshe was later married to an Israeli Jew. Want to discuss western confrontation with the eastern Other with someone who's really been on the line where they meet? Try to top that. No one can.

An additional reason you should read Chesler's book is her writing. While much of the book provides historical accounts of the old and the new anti-Semitisms, all of these reflections come in Chesler's inimitable style: conversational, dramatic, engaging.

The new The New Anti-Semitism provides readers with accounts of events in recent history which have been dramatically and dangerously misreported in the mainstream media.

Chesler as our guide through the earliest instances of (the "old") anti-Semitism: blaming Jews for the murder of Jesus, through to Dreyfus, Herzl and Hitler takes us on a familiar path, but she combines a lens of clarity with a compelling voice.

This book also shares some of the less well-known modern-day detours, descriptions of which should be required reading for anyone who purports to care about what is happening in the Middle East.

Chesler is particularly insightful regarding the highjacking of various national as well as global conferences, hosted by the United Nations, by feminists and others, which were transformed into festivals for trashing Jews, Judaism and the Modern State.. This author had a front row seat at many of these events, and she provides an unmatched vantage point and voice of anguish. The disinvitations to even leftist, anti-Israel Jews should have been a warning; it wasn't, other than to Chesler and very few others.

Of course much of the book describes hatred directed towards the Jewish State. Chelser answers the question of whether anti-Zionism is a part of the new anti-Semitism with a resounding yes.

Chesler explains how so many of the new Anti-Semitism practitioners portray Israelis as the new Nazis; they cloak themselves with the view that anti-Israelism is really a form of anti-Nazism. She also discusses current artillery, such as the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) movement, and how it gained footing, assisted by the piously righteous leftists, especially on the campuses. Edward Said, Noam Chomsky and the like are put in their rightful places as legitimizers of the hatred.

Sadly, Chesler is also able to provide us with a ringside seat to what she refers to as Academic McCarthyism. This intense and growing hostility to the Jewish State on campuses is apparent to all those paying attention. But even today too few are paying attention, and too many of those too few are convinced that appeasement and understanding is the best response. That only begets more brazen attacks and more exaggerated demands.

Chesler helps make the case that Jews have been singled out by providing intriguing counter-examples. Why, she asks, weren't the Bosnian Serbs held up for special vilification? The ferocity of their attacks, the gang-rape and murder of children has been virtually unsurpassed, at least in Europe. But those acts have not similarly moved those who attack Israel for real or imagined barbarism. So too, with Saddam Hussein and his vile, sadistic sons, who barely raised eyebrows, let alone entire movements.

As Chesler points out, the fact that a Jewish state exists, which can defend itself, has no intention of leaving the neighborhood, and has begun to settle in territory it conquered in the 1967 war of self-defense has escalated the Jew-hatred into a "near psychosis."

Chesler gives us a manifesto to follow, for those of us less gifted in expressing ourselves:

One cannot claim to be an "anti-racist" and, in the same breath, condemn Zionism. One cannot claim to be an "anti-colonialist" and, condemn Zionism. Israel was the very first FORMERLY colonized state reclaimed by the UN, which determined that the Jews had a prior right and deserved to live there. The Jews were viewed as Israel's original inhabitants (since 1250 BCE) whose land had been occupied, first by Babylonia, then by Greece, Rome, Persia, the Christian Crusaders, the Mamluks, the Turk/Ottomans – and finally, by the European powers.

Along with all the other treasures contained in this new edition ofThe New Anti-Semitism, the author not only lays out a chapterful of steps people can take, she also provides a lengthy list of excellent resources. For those who finally realize they are not getting the full story from the mainstream media, Chesler offers a panoply of web sites to visit for accurate information.

This book is not just a road map, it is a survival tool.

When the first edition of this book came out this reviewer was so overjoyed to see that someone else was seeing what she was seeing that she purchased a dozen of the books and handed them out to friends and family members. It is heartily recommend others do the same; it just may help increase the number of those still-too-few who "get it." So go get it.

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JUST BEFORE THIS REVIEW WAS PUBLISHED, The Jewish Press was able to elicit responses from Phyllis Chesler to questions raised by the recent horrors in France: the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the attack on the Kosher supermarket.

TJP: Given what has just happened in France, and the outpouring of support for the slain cartoonists, do you believe there will be a long-lasting response which is less towards appeasement and more towards security?

Chesler: I do not believe that government leaders, the intelligentsia, will move swiftly enough since they are still more concerned with potential, imaginary "Islamophobia" than with the slaughter of French civilians, including French Jews. As Gaza goes global, the citizenry will become more aware of who the enemies of freedom and a Western way of life are. But this will take time and blood and as we know, the clock is ticking fearfully.
TJP: And in what way, if any, do you see what happened at the kosher market in Paris as eliciting a different response?

Chesler: Friday, French Muslims prayed at the Grand Mosque. Jews were told to stay home and not pray at the Grand Synagogue.

The Charlie Hebdo satirists were executed for what they had done and they were named, one by one. As to the Jews—religious Jews, any religious Jews would do. The Jews were massacred for who they are: Kuffars, infidels, Jews. While some European leaders have noted that the massacre in the kosher supermarket was an "anti-Semitic" act, French authorities have not offered the Jews any necessary protection.

In fact, this is no longer a matter that the police can handle. A war-level effort is required and the West is still reluctant to fight back, still in denial about whether a handful of "criminal," "lone wolf," "mentally ill," "impoverished," men (and women) who happen to be Muslim, who happen to have been trained in Syria, Yemen, or Iraq, really represent a modern-day Army.

In effect, these are people who still believe that Hamas's soldiers who dress in civilian clothing or who hide behind civilian shields really constitute an Army. I am not sure whether France or Europe understands that those who slaughtered the Charlie Hebdo satirists and the Jews in the supermarket are the same kinds of Jihadists who have been murdering Jews for the last one hundred years in Israel.


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