As can be seen from the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews” that can be actively or passively expressed against them or their institutions, property and interests. Racism regards those who are different as inferior. But anti-Semitism attacks or censures Jews, or allows attacks or censure of Jews, not because they are inferior but because they are allegedly dangerous, selfish and greedy — the banker, the rabbi, the communist, the plutocrat afflicting humanity.
In a way, anti-Semitism today is politically correct in the West because it attacks the power of so-called exploiters who have the so-called unfair power. This theory is almost two millennia old and puts into the same boat millions of atheists, agnostics, religious fanatics, progressives, democrats, communists and neo-Nazis.
Consider the following categorization of anti-Semitism:
- Anti-Semitism based on the material image that has plagued the Jews for centuries, above all in Portugal, in which they are never linked to positive actions but rather to money, ugliness and sin. In some cities of Europe, the steps taken by the USSR are being revived to close the synagogues of Lvov, Jarkov, Tshernovitz, Bobruisk, Smolensk and hundreds of others throughout that large empire. These synagogue-communities were not closed at the same time but one by one, employing the same method: using the press and slanderers to link synagogues to business, describing such business as being amoral or illegal, negative reactions from certain corners of public opinion and by straw Jews, and totally destroying the respectability of the synagogues and corresponding Jewish organizations, making them incapable of defending Jewish life.
- Anti-Semitism based on myths about the Jews’ collective guilt. It was always this way throughout history. The typical claims include that the Jews are a race, are foreigners, conspire to rule the world, are rich and killed Jesus. These myths are still being repeated today, with some modern additions. The most recent conspiracy theories are that the Jews created coronavirus, monopolized the vaccines, made money from the vaccines, want to alter the human DNA and so on.
- Anti-Semitism that identifies the State of Israel as a Nazi and genocidal state. This type of anti-Semitism is caused by ideological blindness and ignorance about the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian reality. Only teaching will combat the false logic of David (supposedly “Palestine”) against Goliath (supposedly Israel), despite the fact that 400 million Arabs and 6 million Jews live in the Middle East. Furthermore, in 1948, 1967 and 1973, a coalition of about 10 Arab countries tried to assassinate Israeli Jews, who are people that to this day do not destroy churches and mosques, do not kill the infidel, hijack airplanes, blow themselves up in restaurants, stab lonely old people or promote the brainwashing of children.
- Anti-Semitism that denies the Holocaust and incites hatred against the Jewish population, accused of creating a myth to extort money from Germany. First by denying the link between Nazism and the concentration camps to the persecution of the Jews and then by deliberately destroying their lives (a denial based on formal issues or details regarding the precise numbers and the forms of execution) is the same as not seriously addressing comprehensively proven historical facts (by direct witnesses, comprehensive documentation, historical research over a period of 70 years and many trials). This is likely to lead the general public to act against the alleged falsifiers of history.
- Anti-Semitism based on the idea that the Jews want to be the “privileged victims” of the Holocaust and desire special treatment with regard to the other victims, the other minorities. In many countries, such as Sweden, this has led schools to stop inviting Holocaust survivors if they are Jewish. This type of anti-Semitism is linked to the falsification of the Holocaust, which glosses over the fact that the Final Solution was addressed exclusively to the “Jewish race,” that nine-tenths of the victims at Auschwitz were Jewish and that the Nazis wanted to exterminate Jews even outside the occupied territories — indeed, in the whole world — including the “gang of 4 million Jews in the USSR,” an invasion which caused them to lose the Second World War.
- Ideological anti-Semitism that by omission falls on the professional classes who have the moral and political obligation to denounce and persecute it, which they do with generic works or when anti-Semitic actions are carried out by the extreme right or religious fanatics, but who say or do nothing when the Jews are subject to humiliation from other sources. Anti-Semitism is not put on the same level as other types of discrimination: against Black people, gypsies, women, migrants, LGBTQ individuals, prisoners and others. If the Jews are plutocrats linked to obscurantist culture and with their own criminal state in Israel, they are only deemed to be victims if they are attacked by someone even worse than they are: skinheads and jihadists.
- Anti-Semitism that refuses to individualize Jews in a positive way, in particular praising their contributions to the world. While it is true that all peoples have extraordinary value and are complemented in terms of deeds, philosophies, cultures, arts and sciences, it has never been politically incorrect to exhort the singular nature of each people. There is one exception: the Jews. It is politically incorrect to say that 0.2 percent of humanity has garnered almost 200 Nobel Prizes in physics, economics, medicine, literature and building peace, except when such comments are linked to the belief that the Jews also control the granting of such prizes.
At the end of the Second World War, when the Red Army entered the West, thousands of Jews on the frontline met with other Jews. Some had survived the Holocaust, others were American, English and French soldiers. Many were related. These meetings were so highly dramatic and sentimental – often taking place next to the mortal remains of murdered relatives – that Stalin forbade any mention of the role of the Jews. This was considered “far too cosmopolitan” in the Red Army, created by Leon Trotsky. Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Belarusians and others are still praised to this day. The Jews have been forgotten. Even today in Russia and Ukraine, simple folk say that the Jews did not fight but ran away from the frontline. The first Jews who displayed their medals after the war were asked the famous question, “Where did you buy those medals?”
Gabriela Turkenitch Cantergi is president of B’nai B’rith International Portugal.