BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Devil That Never Dies’: Well-Documented Look at the Persistence of Antisemitism and How Globalization and the Internet Have Made It a Permanent Part of the Landscape

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Devil That Never Dies': Well-Documented Look at the Persistence of Antisemitism and How Globalization and the Internet Have Made It a Permanent Part of the Landscape

I’ve just finished reading one of the most depressing books I’ve ever encountered, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s  “The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism” (Little, Brown and Company, 485 pages, illustrations (including some of the most vile European and Arab anti-Jewish cartoons since the Nazi era), notes, index, $30.00).

Depressing, yes, to any rational human being (there must be a few left on the planet!) but Goldhagen’s well-documented and very readable — if you can stand the Christian, Muslim and secular antisemitic paradigms that Goldhagen reveals — should be read by everyone, Jew and Gentile, atheist, rightist, leftist. I say “reveals”, because the globalized antisemitism that is the ever present norm today is poorly covered, if it’s covered at all,  by the mainstream media.  Only when mass murder is committed , as it was in Toulouse, France a few years ago by a Muslim terrorist at a Jewish school, are anti-Jewish atrocities covered. Few readers on this side of the Atlantic know about the anti-semitism of Malmo, Sweden, a city of 300,000, where it is very dangerous for a Jew to walk the streets in Jewish garb (kippah, Star of David, etc).

For instance, the media made a big deal out of a few relatively mild Danish cartoons that made Muslims angry and resulted in death threats and riots. They haven’t done the same thing with the most disgusting, vile anti-Israel and anti-Jewish cartoons — many of which are reproduced in Goldhagen’s book. (The author includes a list of illustration credits, so you can trace the origin of these vile images).

The Israel and Jew hatred of the United Kingdom (including Scotland) is amply illustrated in a cartoon that reminds me of a Goya illustration, showing a grossly obese figure resembling Ariel Sharon devouring Palestinian babies! (To counter that, below my review of Goldhagen’s book, I’m reprinting my 2010 review of a book by a British Gentile who is disgusted with the prevalent anti-Jewish climate of his country, where Muslims far outnumber the small and well integrated Jewish community. Goldhagen points out that most of the overwhelmingly antisemitic Muslims in the U.K. are of non-Arab origin –Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi — so they have no connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and come from countries with no Jews at all!

I always think fondly of Canada, a country I visited in 1965 to see the North American premiere of the Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht play “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” in Stratford, Ontario, the home of one of the world’s most prestigious drama festivals.

I modified my view of Canada after reading of the presence of the kind of antisemitic hate crimes that are so prevalent in Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, Hungary and other countries of what British historian Mark Mazower has called in his eye-opening history of the 20th Century in “The Dark Continent” — Europe.

Goldhagen writes that in  Canada, a first world civilized country: “more than 1,297 incidents [of anti-Jewish hate crimes] were reported in 2011; more than 70 percent in 2009 and 55 percent in 2010  of all hate crimes  committed against members of religious groups in Canada were perpetrated against Jews, even though they compose a mere 1 percent of the Canadian people! Muslims are twice as numerous as Jews in Canada and were victims of only 10 percent of hate crimes, one-sixth as many as Jews. ”

Goldhagen notes that even though Jews have been in Canada far longer than Muslims and are culturally integrated in Canadian society and politics, they are 12 times more likely to experience hate crimes.  I wondered if this could be the reason  why so many Canadian Jews…Lorne Greene, Bill Shatner, Saul Bellow, Eugene Levy, etc. have found the U.S. to be more hospitable than their native land  (Shatner for one has written about the antisemitism he experienced in his native Montreal).

Goldhagen writes that, at least for the immediate future, the U.S. is an exception to worldwide antisemitism because of the diversity of religions; he argues that religious groups don’t politicize their faith, fearing that it may be turned on them (think the anti-Catholic Know Nothing movement of the 19th Century and beyond and the anti-Catholic stance of the Ku Klux Klan). Goldhagen in his new book combines aspects of his three previous books in the new one. The first book, on “Hitler’s Willing executioners” deals with general aspects, including the pogroms against Jews in Poland and elsewhere when they attempted to return to their homes; the second, on the Catholic Church and its role in the Holocaust deals with religious aspects of antisemitism,  and the third “Worse than War” book  deals with eliminationism practiced by ethnic groups, including blacks  in Africa, Arabs and Turks and other Muslims in the Middle East and Europe.

OK, maybe I’m too harsh on Canada, a country I admire for many reasons, including its disinclination to get involved in other nations’ civil wars. Here’s a  Canadian who speaks out against the antisemitism of the mainstream Protestant churches (Page 400 ff) Rev. Andrew Love of the United Church of Canada, who says regarding a 2002 initiative against Israel by mainstream Protestant sects: “What really emerged from this story was just how deep-seated the hatred [for Jews} is.” According to Love, who knows the Protestant movement as an insider, “The humanitarian concern is the veil that covers, or is the rationalization for ultimately what I believe to be anti-Semitic ideas and anti-Semitic policies.”   Goldhagen says the Rev. Love should know because Protestant churches are at “the center of the anti-Israel international human-rights movement, as well as at the center of the pan-European anti-Israel public discourse, which share the same ‘universal’ and ‘humanitarian’ principles.  Christian groups, many funded by the European Union, are the motor force behind much of the divestment campaign against Israel, with Pax Christi, the most important international Catholic peace movement urging an economic boycott of Israel….”

Goldhagen’s title tells it all: The “Devil” that is antisemitism never went away, but since the turn of the 21st Century it has multiplied beyond what anyone would have predicted. It is openly spread by intellectuals, politicians, and religious leaders in Europe, Asia, the Arab world, America, and Africa and supported by hundreds of millions more. Showing the persistence of an untreatable disease — which is what antisemitism is —  today antisemitism is stronger than any time since the Holocaust. That’s strong stuff, but expert writer Goldhagen backs up his assertions with facts, many of them provided by the antisemites themselves.

Goldhagen writes that no other people have been as demonized by a wide variety of haters as the 13 million Jews in the world, and no other country has been as demonized as Israel. And demonized by what many believe is a force for good (many people, including the present reviewer,  no longer believe that) the United Nations and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

On Page 427 Goldhagen writes that in the past ten years  the UN has issued 288 resolutions against Israel, as opposed to 97 against all other nations, including the racist Muslim nation of Sudan that committed a murderous campaign against mostly black people in Darfur and South Sudan, killing hundreds of thousands, and the murderous regimes of Syria and Iran, as well as the Turkish campaign against the Kurds. And so on, and so on.

The UN is also responsible for the “hatefest” (Goldhagen’s words that are backed up by U.S. delegates like Tom Lantos) of Durban, South Africa in 2001 and subsequent years. He reproduces a sign from Durban that shows what an antisemitic event it was.

And what about the vile comment of a few years ago from Daniel Bernard, the French ambassador to the U.K. (Pages 289-90) “which he articulated what he thought would never be reported, saying, now infamously, that ‘all the  current troubles of the world are because of that shitty little country Israel.”

Bernard kept his job. Would he have kept his job if he had said the same thing about, say,  Switzerland, a country that profited from World War II and stole Jewish assets parked in that neutral nation? I doubt it! Bernard is a native of a country that actively collaborated with the Nazis. The resistance was important, but far more people, including intellectuals, collaborated with the German occupiers of France.

I’ve always felt that the Internet is far from being a good thing, and Goldhagen’s description of the antisemitic Internet sites Jew Watch and Stormfront, among others, confirms my feeling about the negative face of the World Wide Web. Ironically — since it was developed by Mark Zuckerberg, a Jew — Facebook has turned out to be another device to spread anti-Jew lies, Goldhagen writes.

One of the most chilling parts of the book comes near the end, where Goldhagen reproduces on pages 451-54 the detailed Iranian plan to destroy Israel, listing the regions of the tiny country and the regional capitals  — Haifa, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Beersheba, Jerusalem  — and their population figures. In the same section Goldhagen reproduces a document from the Wannsee conference in Germany in 1942 that spelled out in stark numbers the number of Jews in the various countries. Typed neatly (on one of those beautiful German typewriters of the era) it shows a total of 11 million Jews to be murdered. (The Germans ended up murdering more than 20 million people in World War II, including the 6 million Jews that Holocaust deniers say weren’t murdered.

Here’s Goldhagen, in his own words, from his website (www.goldhagen.com) describing why he wrote the book:

After years of studying antisemitism and prejudice in general, I’ve finally tackled the topic head on. The result isThe Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism.

The worldwide growth of antisemitism in recent years has shaken individual Jews and Jewish communities everywhere. Old antisemitic images have been given new life. New antisemitic images and accusations abound. In much of the world Jewish communities hunker down fortress-like, and individual Jews hide all visible signs of their Jewishness lest they be assaulted. In Europe, antisemitism has returned seemingly with a vengeance. In the Arab and Islamic worlds, Israel and Jews (not only Israelis) alike are treated as a demonic entity and people, and an eliminationist orientation abounds—from the Imam in the local mosque to the leaders of countries, including nuclear-weapon aspiring Iran. Thankfully the United States—where antisemitism, which bubbles beneath the surface, certainly never dissipated—remains a partial exception to this worldwide antisemitic tide, although the beginnings of the same developments can be discerned.

 

“The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism” makes sense of these developments and more, by showing that antisemitism has metamorphosed (again) into something new: global antisemitism. Global antisemitism, the third major historical type of antisemitism (the first two being religious, and modern or racist), has been emerging over the last two decades, to replace the modern racist antisemitism that marked European and world civilization in the twentieth century. Global antisemitism is at once grounded in long-existing antisemitic notions and incorporates new ones. It would not exist but for the long history of the demonization of Jews. Yet is not merely a continuation of the past. It is political—and not just social and cultural—as never before, and is strategically deployed and spread by governments around the world. It relentlessly focuses on Israel, although, as the book demonstrates, it is not engendered by Israel’s actions.

“The Devil That Never Dies” presents a fundamentally new perspective on antisemitism in the world today, enormously sobering and voluminous data about the extent of antisemitism around the world, and a systematic analysis of the causes and consequences of antisemitism, including and especially the game changing role of the internet and digital technologies on the spread and character of antisemitism.

You may know my earlier book Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. I like to think that “The Devil That Never Dies” is as original as that book was, and will transform the understanding of antisemitism as much as that book transformed the understanding of the Holocaust. “The Devil That Never Dies” demonstrates, with overwhelming evidence, that the attacks on Israel that go under the name of anti-Zionism or anti-Israelism are incontrovertibly antisemitic. In fact, the evidence and analysis of this issue is so clear-cut that I think that after reading it, no person of goodwill will be able to hear such attacks as anything but antisemitic, and no person undertaking them will be able to any longer hide under the dodge that they are being falsely accused of antisemitism in order to silence them. But this book is decidedly not just about Israel. In a forceful and highly nuanced way, it analyzes the broader phenomenon of antisemitism and how it is afflicting Jews and their communities around the world.

Among the many things that I have learned about antisemitism over the years is that Jews and non-Jews find its endurance and uniqueness among prejudices continuously puzzling and are passionate about understanding it. I wrote “The Devil That Never Dies” for many reasons, though chief among them was to help people get the answers to the questions that they have asked themselves and one another for generations, and that they have particularly asked themselves today about why so many people think ill of or hate Jews, especially now in our globalization era and widespread use of internet and social media.

* * *

In search of an answer to why Christian antisemitism persists to this day, and — as Goldhagen says — “never dies,” I asked my good friend Stephen Reed, a native West Virginian, a Protestant, with two degrees from West Virginia University (bachelor’s and law degree) to comment. Here’s a brief comment from Reed,  who earned his Masters of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology:

“Without question, at times, the church has taken too long to remind people that, if it hadn’t been the Jews who had trouble accepting Jesus, it would have been any other group of human beings. For while there were some specific religious tenets and interpretation at stake between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders of his day, if Jesus is indeed the savior of the whole world, as Christians beliwve, then he would have met resistance anywhere. People generally don’t like to hear that they have sin and need saved from it.

“So the antisemitic error gains traction without this explanation.  Instead of humanity killing Jesus, some tell us that the “Jews killed Jesus,” marking them as particularly to be despised–even though our scriptures clearly call the Jews God’s chosen people.  What a disconnect!”

“So the church has needed to clarify this, and many Christian leaders have been doing just that.  But the lack of clarification on this key point was a significant early factor in the rise of antisemitism everywhere,  with Jews seen not merely as rejecting Jesus but as “Christ killers” and all that. Nevermind that all of Jesus’ s first twelve disciples and most of his early followers were Jews.”

Reed expressed surprise when I told him how Arabs — especially  Palestinians of the Muslim and Christian variety alike — have invented the story that Jesus wasn’t Jewish! (we’re going to have to revise that bumper sticker: “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter”?) Yes, the Arabs and the Muslims have learned the lesson of Joseph Goebbels’ Big Lie very well. This invention of an Arab Jesus didn’t surprise me since the Muslim religion stole Hebrew prophets like Moses and Abraham on a wholesale basis, claiming them as their own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is the author of the #1 international bestseller Hitler’s Willing Executioners, A Moral Reckoning, and Worse than War.His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New Republic, and newspapers around the world.A former professor at Harvard University, he now lives in New York.

* * *

Here is my review of a 2010 book by a Gentile British author on the same subject that Goldhagen covers in his new book:

 

Dec. 24, 2010

 

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Globalising Hatred’

Neo-Anti-semitism is Gaining Strength Throughout the World Under the Guise of Anti-Zionism

 

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen

 

 

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

 

* * *

 

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 cri de coeur –– 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.

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