The Terrible Rise of Antisemitism in the West: A Wake-Up Call

Karl Marx - Antisemitism and the Left - AI Generated courtesy of Catherine Perez-Shakdam

Antisemitism, the oldest hatred, has once again reared its ugly head in the West. Its resurgence is not just a warning signal for the Jewish community but a symptom of a deeper societal malaise. History teaches us that when societies turn against Jews, it usually signals a much broader and more insidious rot within. Today, this ancient hatred is being rekindled, not by the far right, as is often assumed, but by elements of the far left, who, draped in self-righteousness, regurgitate old libels under the guise of modern political discourse.

Throughout history, Jews have been the convenient scapegoats for society’s ills. The medieval blood libels, the Inquisition, the pogroms in Eastern Europe, and the horrors of the Holocaust all stemmed from deeply entrenched antisemitic beliefs that painted Jews as the perennial ‘Other’. Each wave of persecution was not just an attack on Jews but a reflection of a society grappling with its own demons and insecurities. The economic crises, plagues, and political upheavals often provided the backdrop against which these persecutions unfolded.

Take, for instance, the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. The Spanish Inquisition, under the guise of religious purification, targeted Jews who had converted to Christianity but were accused of secretly practicing Judaism. This was less about genuine religious fervor and more about a society in the throes of identity crisis, using Jews as a convenient scapegoat to solidify national unity. Similarly, the Dreyfus Affair in late 19th-century France highlighted how a supposed defender of liberty and equality could be swept up in a tide of antisemitic fervor, once again scapegoating Jews for its internal divisions.

Today, it is the far left that fuels this ancient hatred, cloaked in the language of human rights and social justice. This is not a new phenomenon. Karl Marx himself, despite being of Jewish descent, harbored anti-Jewish sentiments, famously writing about the “Jewish question” in a way that reduced Jews to a mere economic stereotype. This ideological betrayal continues, as seen in the recent rise of antisemitic incidents under the banner of anti-Zionism. The far left’s critique of Israel often veers into outright antisemitism, painting Jews with the broad brush of imperialism and apartheid.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, for example, while ostensibly aimed at supporting Palestinian rights, often crosses the line into antisemitism. The demonization of Israel and the questioning of its right to exist echo the same exclusionary and dehumanizing narratives that have historically targeted Jews. This is not to say that criticism of Israeli policies is inherently antisemitic, but when such criticism morphs into calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, it becomes indistinguishable from the age-old hatred that has fueled pogroms and genocide.

The Projection of Sins

In a grotesque exercise of projection, the far left accuses Jews of the very sins it harbors. It speaks of intolerance while silencing Jewish voices, claims to fight racism while perpetuating age-old antisemitic tropes, and preaches inclusion while excluding Jews from the social justice narrative. This projection serves to deflect from the deeper rot within society. By casting out the Jew, society attempts to exorcise its own demons, hoping that by purging the ‘other’, it can cleanse itself of its inherent flaws.

This dynamic is evident in the way antisemitism often leads to broader societal exclusion and division. Other minorities and marginalized groups frequently find themselves lumped into the same narrative of exclusion and dehumanization. The rot that begins with antisemitism rarely stops there; it spreads, corroding the very fabric of societal cohesion and mutual respect.

As Sam Harris has often pointed out, antisemitism is a unique form of bigotry because it combines the basest forms of envy and xenophobia with a perverse ideological fervor. The Left’s current stance, cloaked in the language of justice and human rights, is a grotesque inversion of these values. It is an intellectual dishonesty that ignores the broader threat posed by radical Islam, which views the West and the Christian world as its ultimate enemies.

The narrative that excuses radical Islam’s ferocity against Jews is dangerously shortsighted. It fails to recognize that the same ideology vehemently opposes the West. Radical Islamists view the world through a binary lens: one either submits to their interpretation of Islam or faces annihilation. The Left’s rejection of Judeo-Christian values is irrelevant to radicals who are committed to their vision of global Jihad. This ideological framework leaves no room for the nuanced understandings of justice and human rights that the Left claims to champion.

In the face of such ‘othering,’ we must show moral fortitude and strength. To appease or bow before pressure will only precipitate further violence. History teaches us that turning the proverbial cheek in the face of such profound hatred serves only to empower the mad, the ugly, and the furious among those hateful crowds. Moral clarity demands that we stand resolute, recognizing that appeasement is a form of complicity.

This resurgence of antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem; it is a societal problem. When hatred against one group is normalized, it inevitably spreads to others. The current wave of antisemitism signals a broader cultural and moral crisis. It is an attempt by society to exorcise its demons by casting out the Jews, hoping to deflect from the rot that has set in.

The Left’s dalliance with antisemitism is particularly dangerous because it cloaks itself in the language of justice while perpetuating the very evils it claims to oppose. By embracing antisemitic tropes and excusing the violence of groups like Hamas, the Left is betraying its own principles and undermining the cause of genuine human rights.

We must confront this resurgent antisemitism with resolve and moral clarity. To fight this scourge, we must first acknowledge it and name it for what it is. History has shown us that societies indulging in antisemitism ultimately crumble. The ancient and insidious poison of antisemitism must be countered with an unyielding commitment to justice and truth. Only by doing so can we hope to preserve the values that make us truly human and ensure that the dark forces of hatred do not prevail.


About the Author
Catherine Perez-Shakdam - Director Forward Strategy and Executive Director Forum of Foreign Relations (FFR) Catherine is a former Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and consultant for the UNSC on Yemen, as well an expert on Iran, Terror and Islamic radicalisation. A prominent political analyst and commentator, she has spoken at length on the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Raised in a secular Jewish family in France, Catherine found herself at the very heart of the Islamic world following her marriage to a Muslim from Yemen. Her experience in the Middle East and subsequent work as a political analyst gave her a very particular, if not a rare viewpoint - especially in how one can lose one' sense of identity when confronted with systemic antisemitism. Determined to share her experience and perspective on those issues which unfortunately plague us -- Islamic radicalism, Terror and Antisemitism Catherine also will speak of a world, which often sits out of our reach for a lack of access.
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