Reviewed By David M. Kinchen
Reviewer’s Note: I’m currently reading and will review Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s new book on global antisemitism, “The Devil That Never Dies” (Little, Brown). I decided to post the following Dec. 24, 2010 review on the same subject. Look for my review of Goldhagen’s new book in a week or so.
Before man can transact any affair, they must have a common language to speak, and some common recognised principles on which they can argue; otherwise all is cross-purpose and confusion. — Edmund Burke (1729-1797) “A Third Letter to A Member of the Present Parliament, on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory of France”, quoted on page 163 of ‘Globalising Hatred’
When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism. — Martin Luther King Jr., speaking to Harvard students in 1968 a few weeks before his assassination
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Denis MacShane’s “Globalising Hatred: The New Antisemitism” (Phoenix Paperback, an imprint of Orion Books Ltd, London, 188 pages, notes, bibliography, index, $14.95, available at Amazon.com) is finally available in the States after having been published as a hardback in 2008 and revised as a quality paperback in 2009. It’s as eloquent a denunciation of neo-antisemitism — as MacShane calls the worldwide incarnation of the phenomenon — as was Emile Zola’s defense, in “J’Accuse” (“I Accuse”) of falsely accused French Jewish army Capt. Alfred Dreyfus more than a century ago.”
To paraphrase American novelist William Faulkner, anti-semitism is never dead, it’s not even past. MacShane, a former journalist and British Labour Party member of parliament since 1994, says that neo-antisemitism is an ideological assault based on hatred of Jews that threatens universal values, world peace, and even attempts to fight poverty and environmental change.
MacShane’s book grew out of his All-Party Commission of Enquiry into Anti-Semitism, an investigation driven by violence against Jews in Britain and throughout what British historian Mark Mazower calls “The Dark Continent” — Europe. MacShane considers how anti-Semitism has become a linking mechanism between different extremisms; how it operates in national party politics and in the European Parliament; and how Holocaust denial has hardened into an organized ideological position. MacShane’s slim but well annotated and documented book is a cry from the heart for a new tolerance and an attempt to throw light on a form of hatred that mobilizes politics across many continents.
Born in 1948, raised as a Catholic, the faith both of his Irish mother and his Polish emigre father, MacShane says that Britain has a long history of anti-semitism on both the right and left; pre-1939 British politics was marked by both the notorious anti-semitism of the nation’s home-grown fascists, the pro-Nazi British Union of Fascists led by Sir Oswald Mosley and the traditional clubman Jew hatred. Today, he says, the anti-semitism of his country is due to the support of Palestinians over Israel: “My overall impression in 15 years as an MP is that more MPs are broadly sympathetic to the cause of Palestinians than are willing to support Israel.”
He writes that the pro-Palestinian members of parliament conveniently ignore the fact that from 1948 to 1967 a Palestinian state could have been formed — with East Jerusalem as its capital — in territory occupied by Jordan and Egypt. He adds, tellingly, that supporters of the Palestinians over Israel never have to endure charges of loyalism that Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel have to in today’s Britain. Widespread anti-Zionism and Israel hatred is evident in Britain in academic and journalism circles and their calls for boycotts of Israel, by the left, MacShane’s own political belief.
Counteracting anti-Jewish attacks, including physical ones as well as speeches, is the country’s National Union of Students, which the author says urges each NUS chapter on campuses throughout the country to reject the efforts of the Hizb-BNP-Al Muhajiroun alliance against Jews. Too bad we don’t have a similar organization in this country as Jewish students face harassment by Muslim student groups in universities in California — among them UC Berkeley, San Francisco State and UC Irvine — and across the country. MacShane devotes considerable space in his book to describe American anti-semitism, including the “expose” of the “Israel Lobby” by Professors Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer in their 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” (for my Sept. 4, 2007 review of this book, click: http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/columns/070904-kinchen-columnsbookreview.html).
MacShane knows about lobbies, which he discusses in his book, including Professors Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s attack on the Israel Lobby: he’s a member of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) — a UK Parliament-based lobby group promoting support within the British Labour Party for a strong bilateral relationship between the UK and Israel. LFI supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, with Israel recognized and secure within its borders and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. It’s an antidote of sorts to the British left-wing academic calls for boycotts of Israeli universities and scholars in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
The Burke quotation identifies the problem between the two sides in the conflict, the author believes, and unless and until the Israelis and Palestinians sit down and resolve the conflict all will be “cross-purpose and confusion” and there never will be a settlement. MacShane’s Muslim friends and constituents refer rightly to Israeli brutality, but they neglect the virulent antisemitism fueled by fundamentalist Saudi Arabia Islamist money — antisemitism that includes publishing Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and the Czarist Russia forgery “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Here’s another Edmund Burke quotation that was used as the motto of a newspaper I worked on: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“As I defend the right of my Muslim friends to follow their faith and support their causes,” MacShane writes, “how can I accept a politics that denies those to Jewish friends? Combating neo-antisemitism is not about supporting every demand made by Jews, and certainly not interpretations of Judaism that deny women or non-Jews equal rights. But to combat global antisemitism is to confront words, language and political demands that start from the premise that Israel as defined by its citizens cannot exist.”
MacShane says his original hardcover book was denied shelf space in British bookstores and its sales were driven by word of mouth. “Globalising Hatred” deserves wide circulation and is as balanced a book on the subject as any I’ve read. I would like to see antisemites like British holocaust denier David Irving and American Jewish denier supporter Noam Chomsky read it, but that’s probably beyond any reasonable expectation: they believe in the saying “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up.”
And yes, it’s important to remember, as MacShane notes, that Israel occupies a whopping 1/520th of the territory occupied by Muslims in the Middle East. In that 1/520th — in a country roughly the size of Wales or Belize or New Jersey — Muslims and Christians are guaranteed their rights to worship without harassment. This is at a time when Christians are being murdered in Iraq and formerly large Jewish communities in Egypt, Iraq and Iran are but a distant memory.