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Date: 2021
Abstract: Overt state-sponsored antisemitism ended in Europe with the fall of the Soviet Union. Antisemitic attitudes, however, remain prevalent in Europe, and some European political actors have instrumentalized antisemitism for political gain. This report examines both the conscious use of antisemitism in European politics and the calculated tolerance of antisemitism, demonstrating that the oldest hatred remains a modern political tool.

Unlike antisemitic incidents of violence, vandalism, or insults, the political use of antisemitism does not target Jews themselves. Instead, antisemitic propaganda targets domestic or foreign audiences as a means of gaining political support. Demonstrating tolerance for antisemitism is another tactic of attracting political support. Polling data shows that these strategies have a rational basis. ADL’s 2019 Global 100 survey of antisemitic attitudes found that one in four Europeans polled harbored antisemitic beliefs.

Antisemitic propaganda has as its goal to energize and attract followers. Antisemitic propaganda is also used to tarnish political opponents in the eyes of a specific audience by intimating that someone is Jewish, supportive of Jewish causes or of the State of Israel. Other times, political opponents are slandered as antisemites or Nazis to diminish their reputations with specific audiences. Each of these techniques will be covered in this report, which focuses on the conscious choice of instrumentalizing or tolerating antisemitism for political gain. Antisemitic rhetoric by political actors as an indicator of bias is a much broader topic, and this report does not cover those instances.

The broad categories of the politicization of antisemitism include (1) politically motivated accusations of, or uses of, antisemitism against political opponents; (2) political appeals to antisemitic beliefs among the public, including the conspiracy theories about Jewish control of government, economy, media; and (3) tolerance of antisemitism within political movements as a strategy for increasing popular support. This list not exhaustive of the political instrumentalization of antisemitism, but this report provides illustrative examples from recent years in these broad categories.

Why is this report important? While violent antisemitic attacks receive wide publicity – and rightly so – the politicization of antisemitism can also severely impact Jewish communities. The British Jewish community provides a compelling example.

In January 2015, 11% of British Jews were considering emigrating, according to a poll by the UK’s Jewish Chronicle. That survey was conducted before Jeremy Corbyn, widely regarded within the British Jewish community as an antisemite himself, was even a leadership candidate for the Labour party. In September 2018, after antisemitism had become a serious problem in the Labour party under Corbyn, the Jewish Chronicle poll found that 39% of British Jews were considering emigrating. And in an October 2019 poll by the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council, just prior to the UK General Election, 47% of British Jews said they would “seriously consider” leaving the UK if Jeremy Corbyn were to win the election.

Had Jeremy Corbyn won, leading a major party widely recognized as tolerating antisemitism among its members, and had even 30% of British Jews emigrated as a result of that single event, that number of roughly 90,000 Jews would have been similar to the total of all the French Jews who left France over the past 20 years.

The sections below are select examples of the different ways in which antisemitism has been instrumentalized for political gain by various actors. The purposes and tactics vary substantially, but have the common element of politicizing antisemitism:

The Russian government instrumentalized antisemitism in the forms of propaganda and “false flag” operations to influence domestic and foreign public opinion in its conflict with Ukraine.
Polish political campaigns used overt antisemitic rhetoric during elections to win votes.
The Hungarian government used coded antisemitism in political campaigns against EU migration policies.
The UK Labour party consciously tolerated antisemitism to widen its political support from far-left radicals.
Ukrainian nationalists glorified World War II era fighters to promote nationalist narratives, while trivializing their involvement in the Holocaust.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party trivialized the Holocaust as part of their appeal to “Holocaust fatigue” among German voters.
Other political actors have engaged in similar acts of politicization, and their absence from this report is not indicative of any assessment. The cases below are simply the most blatant examples of the types of politicization to be highlighted.
Author(s): Bolton, Matthew
Date: 2020
Abstract: This article analyses the British left’s response to allegations of antisemitism within the UK Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It uses as its foil a collection of essays on the topic written over the course of the Corbyn era for leading online outlets of the contemporary Anglo-American left, and given away as a free e-book by Verso, the world’s biggest leftist publisher, during the 2019 British election campaign. On the basis of this collection, the article suggests that the Labour antisemitism crisis was the culmination of a long process of political and theoretical degeneration within the left. It argues that the tendency to reduce of the question of antisemitism to that of class “interests,” with antisemitism understood primarily as an “instrument” used by the powerful to divide the “oppressed,” leaves many leftists unable to comprehend the possibility of exterminatory antisemitism as an end-in-itself. The appeal of this approach lies in the apparent alibi against antisemitism it provides for those on the left, like Corbyn, whose interests supposedly coincide with those of “the oppressed,” and means that accusations of antisemitism within the left can be similarly denounced as cover for the underlying ‘interests’ of those making the accusation. The article argues that the insistence that the State of Israel is “a racist endeavour,” a claim which lay at the heart of the Labour antisemitism dispute, rests upon an arbitrary and ahistorical rejection of the notion of Jewish peoplehood. This critique itself draws upon a long history of right-nationalist and liberal-republican antisemitism in which Jews were viewed as an illegitimate “anti-nation,” and in its partiality is radically distinct from a critique of the nation-state as such. The article suggests that this same partiality and ahistoricity reappears in the inability of a class instrumentalist perspective to apprehend the intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, relationship between Israel and antisemitism, and the genocidal antisemitism of the Holocaust in particular.
Author(s): Kalmar, Ivan
Date: 2020
Author(s): Allington, Daniel
Date: 2018
Abstract: Existing research suggests that, in contemporary liberal democracies, complaints of racism are routinely rejected and prejudice may be both expressed and disavowed in the same breath. Surveys and historical research have established that – both in democratic states and in those of the Soviet Bloc (while it existed) – antisemitism has long been related to or expressed in the form of statements about Israel or ‘Zionist’, permitting anti-Jewish attitudes to circulate under cover of political critique. This article looks at how the findings of a survey of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli attitudes were rejected by users of three Facebook pages associated with the British Left. Through thematic discourse analysis, three recurrent repertoires are identified: firstly, what David Hirsh calls the ‘Livingstone Formulation’ (i.e. the argument that complaints of antisemitism are made in bad faith to protect Israel and/or attack the Left), secondly, accusations of flawed methodology similar to those with which UK Labour Party supporters routinely dismiss the findings of unfavourable opinion polls, and thirdly, the argument that, because certain classically antisemitic beliefs pertain to a supposed Jewish or ‘Zionist’ elite and not to Jews in general, they are not antisemitic. In one case, the latter repertoire facilitates virtually unopposed apologism for Adolf Hitler. Contextual evidence suggests that the dominance of such repertoires within one very large UK Labour Party-aligned group may be the result of action on the part of certain ‘admins’ or moderators. It is argued that awareness of the repertoires used to express and defend antisemitic attitudes should inform the design of quantitative research into the latter, and be taken account of in the formulation of policy measures aiming to restrict or counter hate speech (in social media and elsewhere).
Author(s): Ullrich, Peter
Date: 2019
Abstract: Mit der im Jahr 2016 von der International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) anerkannten «Arbeitsdefinition Antisemitismus» liegt ein Instrument für die notwendige Erfassung und Bekämpfung von Antisemitismus vor, das weite Verbreitung gefunden hat. In einem Handlungsfeld, das durch hochgradige begriffliche Verunsicherung gekennzeichnet ist, verspricht die Definition als praktische Arbeitsgrundlage begriffliche Orientierung. Tatsächlich stellt die «Arbeitsdefinition» mit ihrer konkreten, ohne Fachterminologie auskommenden Sprache sowie mit anschaulichen Beispielen, die den Begriff Antisemitismus anhand typischer, immer wieder auftretender Phänomene verdeutlichen, inzwischen eine Grundlage für die Arbeit verschiedener Nutzer*innengruppen dar. Zudem erfolgte mit der Aufnahme bis dato nur wenig beleuchteter (israelbezogener) Aspekte von Antisemitismus eine zum Zeitpunkt der Formulierung der Definition (Anfang der 2000er Jahre) notwendige Aktualisierung der Diskussion.

Bei einer näheren Untersuchung offenbaren sich jedoch auch gravierende Mängel. Insbesondere ist die «Arbeitsdefinition» inkonsistent, widersprüchlich und ausgesprochen vage formuliert; mithin erfüllt sie nicht die Anforderungen guten Definierens. Die Kerndefinition des Antisemitismus ist zudem reduktionistisch. Sie hebt einige antisemitische Phänomene und Analyseebenen hervor, spart aber andere, wesentliche, sehr weitgehend aus. Dies gilt insbesondere für ideologische und diskursive Aspekte, beispielsweise den Antisemitismus als verschwörungstheoretisches Weltbild. Ebenso fehlt eine Erwähnung organisationssoziologischer Aspekte der Mobilisierung in Bewegungen und Parteien sowie deren Niederschlag in diskriminierenden institutionellen Regelungen und Praxen. Zudem können manche israelbezogenen Beispiele, die der Kerndefinition hinzugefügt sind, nur mithilfe weiterer Informationen über den Kontext als antisemitisch klassifiziert werden, da das Beschriebene mehrdeutig ist. Es tritt in komplexen, sich überlagernden Konfliktkonstellationen auf, bei denen eine Zuordnung zu einem spezifischen Problemkreis wie Antisemitismus oft nicht einfach möglich ist. Ein Beispiel sind die sogenannten doppelten Standards. Sie sind kein hinreichendes Kriterium, um eine antisemitische Fokussierung auf Israel von einer solchen zu unterscheiden, die mit den Spezifika israelischer Politik und ihrer weltpolitischen Bedeutung zusammenhängen.

In der Folge begünstigt die «Arbeitsdefinition» eine widersprüchliche und fehleranfällige Anwendungs praxis und führt zu Einschätzungen von Vorfällen oder Sachverhalten, die nicht auf klaren Kriterien basieren, sondern eher auf Vorverständnissen derer, die sie anwenden, oder auf unreflektiert übernommenen verbreiteten Deutungen. Die Anwendung der «Arbeitsdefinition» produziert die Fiktion eines kriteriengeleiteten, objektiven Beurteilens. Die Definition stellt prozedurale Legitimität für Entscheidungen zur Verfügung, die faktisch auf der Grundlage anderer, implizit bleibender Kriterien getroffen werden, welche weder in der Definition noch in den Beispielen festgelegt sind.

Die Schwächen der «Arbeitsdefinition» sind das Einfallstor für ihre politische Instrumentalisierung, etwa um gegnerische Positionen im Nahostkonflikt durch den Vorwurf des Antisemitismus moralisch zu diskreditieren. Dies hat relevante grundrechtliche Implikationen. Die zunehmende Implementierung der «Arbeitsdefinition» als quasi-rechtliche Grundlage von Verwaltungshandeln suggeriert Orientierung. Stattdessen ist sie faktisch ein zu Willkür geradezu einladendes Instrument. Dieses kann genutzt werden, um Grundrechte, insbesondere die Meinungsfreiheit, in Bezug auf missliebige israelbezogene Positionen zu beschneiden. Anders als die Bezeichnung «Arbeitsdefinition» suggeriert, findet auch keine Weiterentwicklung der Definition statt, um diese Schwächen zu beheben.

Fazit: Der Versuch, Probleme allgemeiner begrifflicher Klärung und universeller praktischer Einsetzbarkeit mithilfe der «Arbeitsdefinition Antisemitismus» zu lösen, muss insgesamt als gescheitert angesehen werden. Vor allem aufgrund ihrer handwerklichen Schwächen, ihrer defizitären Anwendungspraxis, ihres trotzdem teilweise verbindlichen rechtlichen Status und ihrer politischen Instrumentalisierbarkeit mit problematischen Implikationen für die Meinungsfreiheit kann die Verwendung der «Arbeitsdefinition Antisemitismus» nicht empfohlen werden. Eine mögliche Ausnahme könnten lediglich eng umgrenzte pädagogische Kontexte darstellen.

Wie die Entstehungsgeschichte der «Arbeitsdefinition Antisemitismus» und ihre weite Verbreitung deutlich machen, gibt es – auch angesichts einer weiter bestehenden Bedrohung durch gegenwärtigen Antisemitismus – einen großen Bedarf vonseiten verschiedener Institutionen nach in der Praxis anwendbaren Kriterien zur Identifikation antisemitischer Phänomene. Folglich ist die Entwicklung von klaren und kontextspezifischen Instrumenten für die Praxis dringend zu empfehlen.
Author(s): Volovici, Leon
Date: 1994
Author(s): Kovács, András
Date: 2012
Abstract: The article analyzes the newest survey results on antisemitic prejudices, antisemitic political discourses, and political antisemitism in present-day Hungary. According to the research findings, during the first decade and a half after the fall of communism, 10%-15% of the Hungarian adult population held a strong antisemitic prejudice. Surveys conducted after 2006 show not only an increase in the absolute percentage of antisemites, but also an increase in the proportion of antisemites who embed their antisemitism in the political context. This phenomenon is linked with the appearance on the political scene of Jobbik, a more or less openly antisemitic party. When examining the causes of antisemitism, the most interesting finding was that the strength of antisemitic feelings is regionally different and that these differences correlate with the strength of Jobbik’s support in the various regions. Accordingly, we hypothesized that support for a far-right party is not a consequence of antisemitism, but conversely should be regarded as a factor that mobilizes attitudes leading to antisemitism. Thus, antisemitism is—at least in large part—a consequence of an attraction to the far right rather than an explanation for it. While analyzing antisemitic discourse, we found that the primary function of the discourse is not to formulate anti-Jewish political demands but
to establish a common identity for groups that, for various reasons and motives, have turned against the liberal parliamentary system that replaced communism.
Author(s): Zelenina, Galina
Date: 2018
Abstract: In the early 2000s, the Russian branch of Lubavitch Hasidism embodied in the Federation of Jewish communities of Russia became a self-proclaimed speaker for Russian Jewry. The paper argues that the Federation is a nation-building project which succeeded in constructing a rather limited and imported real religious community as well as a large and amorphous “imagined community” and tries to offer some inclusive agenda for Russian Jewry as a whole. Most importantly, the Federation switched from the traditional lachrymose concept of the Jewish nation, and suffering as a core of Jewish identity, to the idea of Jewish and Russian Jewish success, achievement, and heroism. The paper seeks to demonstrate that the reason for this ideological innovation lies in Lubavitch mentality (part and parcel of which is the concept of miracle and ardent messianism) as well as in surrounding all-Russian trends. The Federation’s success story and development of optimistic memories and narratives has been parallel to Russia’s “rising from its knees.” The cornerstone of the Federation’s victory on the Russian Jewish scene - its effective and continuous alliance with Kremlin - shows the same pattern: on the one side, it follows the traditional Lubavitch path; on the other, it reflects the traditional Russian idea of state-church “symphony” and dependence of the latter on the former. The attitude to Judaism on the part of the Russian Jewry that supports the Federation may be defined as “vicarious religion,” and may be compared to the “light burden” of Orthodoxy undertaken by the majority of Russians.
Date: 2017
Abstract: Представленная книга документированных исследований А. Бураковского исторически охватывает 30-летний период развития социально-политической жизни Украины начиная с распада СССР и до 2016 года включительно. Книга содержит 10 глав и соответствуещее теме книги вступительное слово профессора истории Ивана Химки (John-Paul Himka). События в ней разворачиваются на фоне всех «майданов», начиная от первого — НРУ, и заканчивая «евромайданом», при президентах Л. Кравчуке, Л. Кучме, В. Ющенко, В. Януковиче — вплоть до революционного перехода власти в независимой Украине к ее 5-му президенту П.Порошенко. Все события в книге разворачиваются на фоне эволюции развития как украинского, так и еврейского возрождения, и их жесткого взаимовлияния. При этом автор, будучи долгое время в центре тех и других событий, большое внимание уделяет трансформации еврейско-украинских отношений, главным образом, уже в независимой Украине.
Date: 2017
Author(s): Rich, Dave
Date: 2020
Abstract: In April 2020, shortly after Keir Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the UK Labour Party, an internal party report concerning the workings of Labour's internal disciplinary unit in relation to antisemitism was leaked to the media. This report was over 850 pages long and was intended to be submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is conducting an inquiry into allegations of antisemitism in the Party. However, Labour's lawyers refused to allow it to be used, almost certainly because the content was so damaging to the Party's own defence. It confirmed many of the claims made by Jewish Party members and community organisations during Corbyn's leadership of the party, namely that the disciplinary system was not fit for purpose and cases of alleged antisemitism were ignored or delayed and punishments were too weak. When it was leaked the report caused a scandal because it claimed that Corbyn's efforts to deal with antisemitism were sabotaged by his own Party staff, who were mostly drawn from factions opposed to his left wing project. Furthermore, the report claimed that this was part of a broader conspiracy against Corbyn that even extended to Labour Party staff trying to prevent a Labour victory in the 2017 General Election. The leaked report is selective and inaccurate in many respects and ignores the role played by Corbyn and his close advisers in denying the problem of antisemitism existed. Nor does it address the reasons why people with antisemitic views were attracted to Labour under his leadership. It is most likely that it was written to allow Corbyn and his supporters to continue to claim that their project did not fail on its own merits, but was betrayed by internal saboteur