A copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is sold at a street shop in Cairo in 2009. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Many people wonder why anti-Semitism is such a long-standing trend throughout so much of world history.
For example, a commentator recently noted on our social media about the spate of attacks on Jews in Europe:
People don’t hate and attack others without reason. Again, why? this is obviously a long-standing conflict and there’s been a lot of friction in recent years to stir it up again… makes you wonder what’s happening behind the scenes and who’s really behind it all.
Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s essay “The Return of Anti-Semitism,” featured in the Wall Street Journal, answers this question head on:
Anti-Semitism has existed for a very long time. One critical moment came around the end of the 1st century C.E., when the Gospel of John attributed to Jesus these words about the Jews: “You belong to your father, the Devil.” From being the children of Abraham, Jews had been transformed into the children of Satan.
...Anti-Semitism becomes deadly only when a culture, nation or faith suffers from a cognitive dissonance so profound that it becomes unbearable. It happens when the way a group sees itself is contradicted by the way it is seen by the world. It is the symptom of an unendurable sense of humiliation.
Christianity, which had been transformed by the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, found itself overtaken by Islam by the 11th century. Germany, which had seen itself as the supreme nation in Europe, was defeated in World War I and then punished under the Treaty of Versailles.
These humiliations resulted not in introspection but in a search for foreign culprits—for external enemies who could be blamed and destroyed. The parallel in Islam over the past century was the defeat and dissolution of its one remaining bastion of imperial power, the Ottoman Empire, in 1922. Six years later, radical political Islam was born in Egypt in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, inspects Bosnian SS members in 1944. PHOTO: ALAMY
Today, arbitrary references to the “Jewish lobby” in the Muslim world can be construed as anti-Semitic sentiment without factual evidence supporting such claims. Leaders in various countries have historically blamed Jews and Israel for internal woes to alleviate domestic pressure and propagate the concept of an external enemy in order to cultivate regime legitimacy.
Most recently, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that his government would not give into the “Jewish lobby” that he says is working against the ruling AKP Party. The vague allegations come in context of baseless accusations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who says that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, was cooperating with the “parallel structure,” or members within the government allegedly seeking to topple the regime. “World powers and the Jewish Diaspora prompted the unrest and have actively encouraged it,” said now former Turkish deputy prime minister Besir Atalay in July 2013.
The best reaction to this type of thinking? See the video below, where a Tunisian politician Neji Djelloul of the Nidaa Tounes Party responded to TV host Miqdad Al-Majeri’s mention of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” saying that it was “a bunch of anti-Jewish myths.” It’s quite funny.