A New Anti-Semitism

These are violent times. Some believe that we are experiencing a new kind of conflict: “culture wars,” such as those between Sunni and Shiite Muslims or tribal groups in Africa and Asia, or indeed Islamists and Westerners. However, the deeper reasons for some of these conflicts may well be more traditional.

Belonging to a particular cultural group is merely a pretext for battles between the winners and losers of globalization. Ruthless leaders mobilize disoriented followers. Particularly the losers, often represented by young men with no future to look forward to, can be induced to take even suicidal action against the alleged enemy.

Perhaps one should not be surprised that at such a time, the oldest of our ugly ­– indeed, deadly – resentments, anti-Semitism, is re-emerging from the shadows. Its comeback takes the classical form of attacks on individuals, like the recent killing of a young Jew in France, or of disfiguring symbolic places, like cemeteries and synagogues. But there is also a more general sense of hostility to all things Jewish.

One would have thought that anti-Semitism died forever with the Holocaust; but it did not. There are those who deny that the Holocaust ever took place, or that it did in its all-too-well-documented manner.