The Persistence of Antisemitism

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Why do people hate Jews?

About 20 years after writing a book on anti-Semitism, historian Deborah Lipstadt returns to the subject in "Here and Now." In a review, Brett Stephens writes that we once hoped anti-Jewish hatred would be erased. In fact, it's worse today that it was two decades ago.

This analysis — that the resurgence of anti-Semitism owes as much to its political enablers who aren’t openly bigoted as it does to its ideological practitioners who are — is the most valuable contribution the book makes to our discussion of modern-day Jew hatred. Still, Lipstadt misses something important by insisting that anti-Semitism “has never made sense and never will.”

Not quite. However irrational, cynical or stupid anti-Semites may be, most Jews nonetheless can be said to stand for certain ideas and attitudes. A particular concept of morality. A reverence for law founded on the idea of truth. A penchant for asking nettlesome questions. Skepticism toward would-be saviors. A liberal passion for freedom.

Anti-Semites tend to have the opposite set of views, for reasons that may be repugnant but are perfectly rational. The fundamental truth about anti-Semitism isn’t that it’s necessarily crazy. It’s that it’s inevitably brutish.

Read the entire review here.

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