Ilana Snyder reviews 'Antisemitism: Here and now' by Deborah Lipstadt

Ilana Snyder reviews 'Antisemitism: Here and now' by Deborah Lipstadt

Antisemitism: Here and now

by Deborah Lipstadt

Scribe, $32.99 pb, 287 pp, 9781925322675

Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt is renowned as the woman who defeated David Irving in court after he sued her for describing him as a Holocaust denier. Her portrayal by Rachel Weisz in the film Denial (2016) ensured that Lipstadt and her landmark victory achieved even wider celebrity.

Thousands of books have been written on the history of anti-Semitism, and Lipstadt has not set out to write another. Alarmed that people continue to demonise Jews and regard them as responsible for evil, she directs her attention to its contemporary resurgence. For Lipstadt, anti-Semitism ‘is not the hatred of people who happen to be Jews. It is hatred of them because they are Jews’. The existence of anti-Semitism, which has never made sense and never will, is a threat not just to Jews but to all those who value an inclusive, democratic, and multicultural society. Indeed, when expressions of contempt for one group become normative, it is virtually inevitable that similar hatred will be directed at other groups.

Antisemitism: Here and now addresses questions that people began asking after the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. Is today’s anti-Semitism different from earlier manifestations? Where is it coming from: the right or the left? Is it all about Israel? Are we seeing anti-Semitism where it’s not, or refusing to see it where it clearly is?

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Published in August 2019, no. 413
Ilana Snyder

Ilana Snyder

Ilana Snyder is an emeritus professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. With Susan Feldman and Barbara Kamler, she co-edited Something That Happens to Other People: Stories of Women Growing Older (1996).

Comments (2)

  • Leave a comment
    What an outstanding review by Ilana Snyder of an extraordinary book.
    Her deft understanding of the issues covered by Deborah Lipstadt is apparent.

    That there are varied facets of antisemitsm is not new. That the facets are increasing/multiplying in complexion as well as in intensity is new - and is news. The review highlights a wide scope of important issues which the book unpacks, many of which will resonate with diaspora Jews and with Israelis – and, most importantly, with others.

    The importance of our own individual, proactive, educative and responsive actions is also highlighted. As the reviewer comments "Lipstadt's criticises Jewish organisations that respond to the BDS by seeking to ‘boycott the boycotters’ or to intimidate pro-Palestinian professors and activists by compiling dossiers on them." This sort of “reverse-vilification” whilst tempting, is often counterproductive.

    By way of example - In 2003 Hanan Ashrawi was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Sure, it was disappointing that an alleged supporter of terrorism was chosen at the recipient of the Prize.
    However, much of the public criticism from sections of the Australia Jewish community was not fact-based and bordered on the hysterical. Not only was Ashawi savaged, but so were the convenors of the SPP and Bob Carr. To no avail - and to what end? World-wide publicity/empathy for Ashawi, without moral gain for Jews or for Israel, and further galvanizing Carr’s enmity towards the Jewish State

    As Lipstadt concludes in her Note to the Reader : (This book)" is written with the conviction that action starts with understanding, which will be applied differently by different people in different circumstances. My attempt to explore a perplexing and disturbing set of circumstances is written in the hope that it will provoke action. What precisely the action remains in the hands of the reader"

    It is to be hoped that Lipstadt’s book will lead to a better understanding of the scourge of antisemitism – in all is guises and that it will be a catalyst for understanding and change.

    I for one will be sharing this book with my Gentile friends.
    Wednesday, 07 August 2019 15:35 posted by george greenberg
  • Leave a comment
    If you refuse to address the basic needs of any population; if you allow institutional racism to persist; if you presume to regulate debate by targeting individuals as “antisemites” and directing (and thus suppressing) discussion of the very serious issues of collapsing social services, vindictive poor-house “support” for unemployed and sick people and the toleration of policies that presuppose mass underemployment, in this bizarre moralistic direction; if you are concerned with political casuistries rather than social and economic solutions and the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of journalists and the right to know: you are fostering and using antisemitism.
    Monday, 10 June 2019 15:17 posted by David

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