JUSTICE - No. 68

22 No. 68 JUSTICE n Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. n Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis. n Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. n Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel. Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries). Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews. Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.27 There are three interrelated reasons why this definition is appropriate for authorities to use when assessing the motivation behind discriminatory acts that were allegedly committed with anti-Jewish intent. The first reason has to do with the practical difficulty of defining antisemitism; the second involves an analysis of what types of behavior the law can and cannot regulate, and the third relates to the legal standard of objectivity required when considering illegal discriminatory intent. The Problem of Defining Antisemitism As the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks once said, it is hard to define antisemitism because it is a “mutating virus”; Jews are criticized for being whatever a society, or a part of society, hates at that particular moment.28 They are radicals and fundamentalists; capitalists and socialists; simultaneously too liberal and too conservative; too rich and a drain on the society. It matters little that the reasons are entirely contradictory and inconsistent; hating Jews is one of those things upon which people on all sides of all spectrums can agree.29 Some things, however, remain the same. In every generation antisemites tend to use some variant of the same refrain in order to make their views sound acceptable; “we don’t hate Jews per se, we just hate ____,” the blank being something that a lot of Jews just so happen to collectively be, or do. To justify their bigotry through means that are deemed socially acceptable, antisemites often look for a rationale that can pass in polite society ‒ ideally one that appeals directly to the age’s highest source of authority, so that the haters can even claim to be virtuous and/or morally superior as they spread their evil lies. For instance, in the Middle Ages the highest source of authority was religion;30 in post-Enlightenment Europe it was science;31 and today it may involve co-opting the language of human rights with selective claims of social justice that see only Jews,32 or the Jewish state,33 as worthy of constant condemnation.34 27. https://holocaustremembrance.com/resources/workingdefinitions-charters/working-definition-antisemitism 28. https://www.rabbisacks.org/videos/mutating-virusunderstanding-antisemitism/ 29. https://themedialine.org/mideast-mindset/israel-hatredthe-common-denominator-between-the-american-far-leftand-far-right/ 30. During the medieval crusades and the pogroms of the 19th and 20th centuries in which Jews were massacred and maimed, the persecutors focused more on Christian themes for their religious justifications, including charges of deicide and blood libels. See Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer, “The Diabolization of Jews,” in ANTISEMITISM 73–117 (2002). Throughout the Biblical period as well, the people of Israel experienced various forms of overtly religious persecution, largely because they refused to accept the pagan and idolatrous practices of their surrounding communities. See “A Brief History of Antisemitism,” ANTIDEFAMATION LEAGUE (2013), available at https://www.adl. org/sites/default/files/brief-history-of-antisemitism.pdf 31. Hence the reliance on pseudoscientific studies about racial eugenics. See “Antisemitism in History: Racial Antisemitism, 1875–1945,” U.S. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM, available at https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/ content/en/article/antisemitism-in-history-racialantisemitism-18751945. See also Laqueur, Walter, THE CHANGING FACE OF ANTISEMITISM: FROM ANCIENT TIMES TO THE PRESENT DAY (New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 93). 32. See e.g., Channah Newman, “Pursuit of ‘social justice’ gives strength to anti-Semitism,” THE JEWISH CHRONICLE (Dec. 2, 2018), available at https://jewishchronicle.timesofisrael. com/pursuit-of-social-justice-gives-strength-to-antisemitism/ 33. Sina Arnold and Blair Taylor, “Antisemitism and the Left: Confronting an Invisible Racism,” 9 J. OF SOCIAL JUSTICE (2019). 34. That is why, as Rabbi Sacks has explained elsewhere, “[w]henever you hear human rights invoked to deny Israel’s right to exist, you are hearing the new antisemitism.” See https://www.rabbisacks.org/videos/ the-mutation-of-antisemitism/

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