From Publishers Weekly
The growing concern about a global revival of anti-Semitism has been reflected in a number of new books, from Abraham H. Foxman's Never Again?
to Phyllis Chesler's The New Anti-Semitism
and Gabriel Schoenfeld's The Return of Anti-Semitism
. All discuss the shift in geopolitical attitudes and events toward Jews and Israel since September 11; each also reflects its author's own political perspective. Rosenbaum's outstanding compilation of nearly 50 sharp essays has the advantage of not only displaying a wide range of views but juxtaposing pieces in debate with one another. Harvard president Lawrence Summers's critique of academic anti-Israeli sentiment, for instance, is answered by postmodern philosopher Judith Butler's pointing out the chilling effect of calling criticism of Israel "anti-Semitic." Rosenbaum (Explaining Hitler
) focuses his collection on specific debates: three essays discuss the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, and another three discuss the controversy surrounding the alleged massacre by Israelis of Palestinians at Jenin. The selections are balancedâ"anti-Semitism and freedom of speech on college campuses, for instance, are discussed by Jeffrey Toobin, Todd Gitlin and Laurie Zoloth. Rosenbaum is also attuned to new aspects of old issues: "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" presents Frank Rich's thoughts on the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
, while in "Who Did Kill Christ?" Nat Hentoff describes Christian rightists' ongoing promotion of the charge of deicide against the Jews. It's rare to find a book that includes essays by both Gabriel Schoenfeld and Edward Said, Ruth R. Wisse and Bernard Lewis. This is an estimable collection and may find a place with course adopters as well as common readers.
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Repeated attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France, the constant drumbeat of slanders against Jews in the Arab media, and even the unveiling of swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations on American college campuses all document a recent resurgence of anti-Semitism. But this anthology is hardly redundant. Rosenbaum, who examined efforts to "explain" evil in Explaining Hitler
(1998), has compiled a cross section of outstanding, thought-provoking, and deeply disturbing articles and essays on the revival (or resurfacing) of the "longest hatred." Jeffrey Goldberg looks behind the moderate facade to uncover the depth of Jew hatred in Mubarak's Egypt. Bernard Lewis analyzes the links between European and Arabic anti-Semitism. Tariq Ramadan offers a hopeful piece that pleads for tolerance, respect, and interreligious dialogue. Cynthia Ozick provides devastating examples of how the "big lie" technique is used to demonize Israel (of course, under the guise of sympathy for the Palestinian people). This is an important and vital contribution to efforts to comprehend what is new and what is the same in this ancient virus of ignorance and hatred. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved