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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mental disorder that invades minds, bodies and society, 23 Oct 2007
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
In this absorbing book, Harrison examines the New Antisemitism as it manifests today on the Left Liberal side of the political spectrum, with special reference to the BBC and publications like The New Statesman, The Guardian and The Independent. In the opening chapter, he defines the meaning, differentiating between "social" and "political" Antisemitism. The political variety is that in which Jewish people collectively are viewed as being involved in a conspiracy to promote political agendas objectionable to those on the Liberal Left. They are moreover seen as an obstacle to world peace because of the existence of the State of Israel.

In the second chapter he dissects the January 14, 2002 issue of The New Statesman with its infamous cover art and articles by Dennis Sewell and John Pilger, as well as the faux apology by editor Peter Wilby that followed reader complaints. The brilliance of this chapter lies in the understated and tactful way that Harrison exposes the rhetorical techniques employed to slander the Jewish people under the guise of criticizing Israeli actions. In the same cautious manner he reveals the lies, inconsistencies and contradictions of people like Robert Fisk and others.

Chapter 3: Jews Against Israel, demonstrates the absurdity of the notion that all Jews support Israel. Harrison calls it "diversity denial", which is nothing else but an aspect of racism that has always been a feature of political Antisemitism. He deals not only with the overwhelming evidence of Jewish sympathy with the plight of the Palestinian Arabs versus the lack of such by Arabs towards Jews, but also with those vicious Jewish enemies of the Jewish people and the state of Israel like Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, with reference to the work of Sartre, Alan Dershowitz and French author Daniel Lindenberg amongst others.

The next chapter explores the ways in which moral hyperbole and deliberate disinformation are used to demonize Israel. Quoting Thomas Friedman, he queries why this stance, which draws upon a phony humanitarian justification, is so universal amongst the liberal elites in the arts, academia and media. Criticism of Israel is not Antisemitism, but singling out Israel out of all proportion to the situation in the Middle East and the world at large definitely is. In the rest of this chapter he refutes many of the smears against Israel based on concepts like colonialism and the single state solution, the proponents of which ignore the massacres, acts of terror and statements of Arab leaders before and after 1948. Also discussed is the 1919 agreement between Emir Faisal and Chaim Weitzmann.

Next, Harrison looks at definitions of fascism. The phenomenon is not confined to the political Right, since the USSR was as fascist as the Third Reich. Nor is it absent in the Third World. The inability to distinguish between people and their leaders is a fallacy often made by patronising Western intellectuals. As for the accusation that Israel is a "racist, apartheid" state, the author argues that it is instead a nearly textbook example of a multicultural society. There are Black Israelis and Arab Jews and anyone can convert to Judaism. In Israel the holy places and right to worship of all religions are respected, which is not the case over vast areas of the planet.

One reason for the hysterical criticism is that the Left has abandoned economics and history for morality. Chapter 8 deals with the notion of guilt and shows how extravagant the Left has become in its moral condemnation and accusation. The grotesqueries of inter alia Orla Guerin of the BBC and Robert Fisk of The Independent are examined here. In this view, all Jewish Israelis are "guilty" while the Arab World bears no responsibility whatever for the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. See also Can We Trust The BBC? by Robin Aitken.

The concluding chapter attempts to find the reason for this state of affairs. Harrison believes that a longing for simple answers and instant moral conviction - the easy soundbite - is part of the problem. But he also shows that much of the nature of the criticism resembles the "old" Antisemitism - the same assumptions, imagery and concepts are employed. The fad of Moral Relativism is not applied to both sides; it is used for justifying suicide/homicide bombings but never to the measures taken by Israel to defend itself. Some victims are more equal than others.

The Appendix is a bibliography of books and articles devoted to carefully documented examples of the New Antisemitism, including La Nouvelle Judeophobie by Pierre-Andre Taguieff, The Return Of Antisemitism by Gabriel Schoenfeld, The New Anti-Semitism by Phyllis Chesler and Occidentalism by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit. On the subject of Jews opposed to Israel, The Jewish Divide Over Israel, edited by Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor and Those Who Forget the Past by Ron Rosenbaum and Cynthia Ozick are excellent books. UK government sources and the relevant website addresses of the two main political parties in the UK are also provided. The book concludes with an index.

Despite the disturbing subject matter, The Resurgence Of Anti-Semitism is a gripping read on account of its eloquence. As a polemic, it perhaps treads too softly, trying to persuade by reason. I agree with Andre Glucksmann that the concept of a contagion of hatred must be taken literally as a mental disorder that invades minds, bodies and society. Such an outbreak inoculates itself against those who oppose it and is immune to reason.

It is interesting to compare Harrison's approach with that of Nick Cohen in What's Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way. In my opinion, the most valuable book on Antisemitism, exploring all its shape-shifting manifestations down the ages and across the political-religious spectrum, is Why The Jews? The Reasons for Antisemitism by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, as it engages with the neglected spiritual dimension of this mental disease. I recommend The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther by Yoram Hazony, to learn how to deal with it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing sign of the times., 18 Feb 2013
M. D Roberts (Gwent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Although this well written book sets out to examine the resurgence of anti-Semitism as to how it manifests itself today on the Left Liberal side of the political spectrum, it actually goes much further than that. As do the principles demonstrated in the study. Pieter Uys eloquentally deals with a number of the specific examples quoted within the book. Since the book's publication a host of other incidents of this nature have received wide publicity, involving the same media entities concerned, and a host of Leftist and Liberal politicians.

In my humble opinion, what becomes more and more apparent when studying the subject of anti-Semitism, is the growing indignation on the part of many, however hostile to the Jews, at being painted with the anti-Semitic "brush". It would seem that Hitler gave anti-Semitism a "bad name" and there is widespread reluctance on the part of even the most severe critics of the Jews to accept this label.

The individuals and media entities concerned often appear utterly oblivious of the true nature of the morbid and primal hatred that they cherish inwardly. However, the vehemence and toxicity of their rhetoric often falls back on the familiar cliches of Jew-hatred, showing that they are often merely using a political argument to camouflage a deeper religious or ethnophobic sentiment.

Examples in this book show that many anti-Semites are very aware that they must now be very "clever" in regard to what he has to say concerning the Jews and Israel. Anti-Semitism is not fashionable, so it seems to be more socially acceptable for the proponents to play the "anti-Zionism" card. However, as an increasing number of examples reveal, the disdain for the collective Jew embodied in the State of Israel is always present, no matter the denials of those propagating the venom and despite their incessant hair-splitting over the need to separate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

The quality of the obsession with the malefactions of the Jewish state alone, among all the member states of the world community, and the extremity of their denunciations of it, show what is really concealed under the mask. Israel's enemies and detractors, constantly seeking for some reason to attack the Jewish State, delegitimize its Jewish heritage, or express what can only be called a hatred or visceral disdain for the Jewish people themselves.

It is clearly expressed within the text of this book that criticism of Israel, like that of any other nation, is quite normal as long as it is comparative, contextual, and fair. However, it also becomes clear that when the Jewish nation is the only party criticized for faults, often obsessively, that are far worse among other peoples, then such criticism crosses the line from being acceptable to being blatantly anti-Semitic. Israel and her government is of course subject to justifiable criticism, as is any country. But what this study ably demonstrates is that the vast percentage of criticism isn't proportionate (that word again), or balanced. Israel and the Jewish people are constantly isolated for censure.

Under the habit of so called legitimate criticism of Israel, and the querying of Zionism, anti-Zionism has now become a "safe" and shrewd tactic to cloak the hatred. Israel is the only state, and the Jews are the only people, who are today the object of a standing set of threats, from governmental, religious and terrorist entities seeking its destruction. There is frequently a silence, if not acquiesence, towards this genocidal culture on the part of the international community. In closing I am reminded that the Holocaust did not begin with the gas chambers, it began with words. Thank you for your time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most intelligent appraisal, 7 Nov 2009
The first reviewer has taken so much trouble that I really don't need to go over all that ground again, except to say I endorse it. So many on the Left now deny that they or their Islamist allies are guilty of anti-Semitism that it is immensely refreshing to see a philosopher expose the hollowness of their defence for what it is, and to show that deep levels of Jew hatred still exist in Western society (not to mention the Islamic world, where it is ubiquitous). If you have any doubts about all this, buy this book at once. It is rewarding, not least as an example of rational and rigorous argument in a very irrational setting.
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