Ruth Wisse

author of Jews and Power

Anti-Semitism is a strategy of blame that organizes politics in opposition to Jews. Available to factions of Left and Right, religious and secular, it has served anti-liberal, anti-democratic, ultra-nationalist, internationalist, radical and conservative ends. Though racialist anti-Semitism was discredited by the Nazi defeat in World War II, Soviet anti-Zionism became the axis of the anti-Western bloc during the Cold War. The United Nations disseminated anti-Semitism worldwide through its resolution defining Zionism as racism—which was revoked after fifteen years without apology, indemnification, or reeducation.

The political usefulness of Jews as a unifying target remains independent of their actions. The Arab League was organized in 1945 around opposition to Israel. Arab leaders denied the Jews a state and accused them of denying a state to the Arabs. Arab leaders did not oppose the partition of Palestine because Israel displaced the Palestinians; they kept Palestinians displaced as justification for opposing Israel. Palestinian homelessness was the Arab pretext for the organization of domestic and regional politics against the Jews.

Unlike other religious or ethnic groups whose anti-Semitism formed part of their identity, Palestinian Arabs are the first people whose nationalism is formed exclusively in opposition to the Jews. Otherwise indistinguishable from Jordanians, they trace their national orgins to the naqba—that is, to the creation of Israel. The politics of Jew-blame damages its carriers no less than its intended victims.

Yesterday’s anti-Semite held Jews responsible for the plight of the Germans, Poles, etc. Today’s anti-Semite holds the Jews of Israel responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.



#1 Guest 2010-02-28 22:03
I am appalled that a distinguished scholar is still peddling this discredited myth about the absence of Palestinian nationalism at this point in time.