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Author(s): Klug, Brian
Date: 2005
Abstract: The recent discourse on ‘new antisemitism’ and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sometime gives the impression that Europe is fundamentally and irredeemably antisemitic. Klug maintains that, while there is a persistent vein of antisemitism in the culture, and while there is evidence of an increase in anti-Jewish attacks since 2000, this perception of Europe is exaggerated. He argues that it is part of a mindset that tends to overstate hostility towards Israel and Jews, or to assume that this hostility is antisemitic, or both. Often this goes along with a tendency to connect antisemitism, via anti-Zionism, with anti-Americanism. Klug believes that notion of a mindset, Klug turns to the question of definition, examining the view that antisemitism is indefinitely mutable. Invoking recent work on the subject, he suggests that at the core of antisemitism is the stock figure of the ‘Jew’. This gives us a criterion with which to judge whether or not a given text—including an attack on Israel or Zionism—is antisemitic. On the basis of the analysis so far, Klug critiques the view that hostility to Israel in general is a new twist on an old antisemitic theme. In this connection, he discussed a 2003 Eurobarometer opinion poll in which 59 per cent of respondents said that Israel is a ‘threat to peace in the world’. Some see this as proof that Europe is antisemitic; Klug rejects this interpretation and traces it back to the mindset he has describing. He argues that people in the grip of this mindset tend to take a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This can lead to ‘antisemitism in reverse’: projecting the figure of the antisemite on to someone who does not fit the bill. Klug concludes that the prospects for the European debate on antisemitism are poor unless it can be disentangled from partisan Middle East politics.