Something has changed.
After the horrors of World War II, people everywhere believed that it could never happen again, but today the evidence is unmistakable that anti-Semitism is dramatically on the rise once more. The torching of European synagogues, suicide terror in Israel, the relentless comparison of the Israelis to Nazis, the paranoid post–September 11 Internet-bred conspiracy theories, the Holocaust-denial literature spreading throughout the Arab world, the calumny and violence erupting on American college campuses: Suddenly, a new anti-Semitism has become widespread, even acceptable to some.
In this chilling and important new book, Ron Rosenbaum, author of the highly praised Explaining Hitler, brings together a collection of powerful essays about the origin and nature of the new anti-Semitism. Paul Berman, Marie Brenner, David Brooks, Harold Evans, Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey Goldberg, Bernard Lewis, David Mamet, Amos Oz, Cynthia Ozick, Frank Rich, Jonathan Rosen, Edward Said, Judith Shulevitz, Lawrence Summers, Jeffrey Toobin, and Robert Wistrich are among the distinguished writers and intellectuals who grapple with painful questions: Why now? What is—or isn’t—new? Is a second Holocaust possible, this time in the Middle East? How does anti-Semitism differ from anti-Zionism?
These are issues too dangerous to ignore, too pressing to deny. Those Who Forget the Past is an essential volume for understanding the new bigotry of the twenty-first century.
The growing concern about a global revival of anti-Semitism has been reflected in a number of new books, from Abraham H. Foxman's Never Again? to Phyllis Chesler's The New Anti-Semitism and Gabriel Schoenfeld's The Return of Anti-Semitism. All discuss the shift in geopolitical attitudes and events toward Jews and Israel since September 11; each also reflects its author's own political perspective. Rosenbaum's outstanding compilation of nearly 50 sharp essays has the advantage of not only displaying a wide range of views but juxtaposing pieces in debate with one another. Harvard president Lawrence Summers's critique of academic anti-Israeli sentiment, for instance, is answered by postmodern philosopher Judith Butler's pointing out the chilling effect of calling criticism of Israel "anti-Semitic." Rosenbaum (Explaining Hitler) focuses his collection on specific debates: three essays discuss the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, and another three discuss the controversy surrounding the alleged massacre by Israelis of Palestinians at Jenin. The selections are balanced anti-Semitism and freedom of speech on college campuses, for instance, are discussed by Jeffrey Toobin, Todd Gitlin and Laurie Zoloth. Rosenbaum is also attuned to new aspects of old issues: "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" presents Frank Rich's thoughts on the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, while in "Who Did Kill Christ?" Nat Hentoff describes Christian rightists' ongoing promotion of the charge of deicide against the Jews. It's rare to find a book that includes essays by both Gabriel Schoenfeld and Edward Said, Ruth R. Wisse and Bernard Lewis. This is an estimable collection and may find a place with course adopters as well as common readers.