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Anti-Semitism: Myth and Hate from Antiquity to the Present Paperback – October 20, 2005
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"[A] tour de force [that] follows upon the late Edward H. Flannery's groundbreaking classic, The Anguish of the Jews."--Journal of Ecumenical Studies
"Commendably, the authors, using reader-friendly language composed in captivating imagery, bring home the point that realization of anti-Semitism and its vision of apocalypse is ever present and therefore necessitates constant vigil. A wonderful read on a poignant topic. Highly recommended."--Zev Garber
"Perry and Schweitzer navigate the history of anti-Semitism with a firm hand, utilizing the latest scholarship and confronting controversial issues without fear."--Library Journal
"A richly textured, thorough, well-written and indispensable addition to the literature, one that anyone interested in the topic and related racist phenomena should not miss." --John Weiss, author of Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany
"...this is a decent and sober beginning to this regrettable history of hate...Recommended."--S.D. Benin, Choice
"...an invaluable guide through the torturous maze of myth and lies propagated by antisemites throughout the ages."-Anna Dogole, The Jewish Eye
"...deserves a place on your bookshelf..."--Gerard Meister, Pedestal
"...an important contribution to the dialogue and the literature on the subject."--Chauncey Mabe, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
"This book is timely, useful, and admirably readable. Its voice needs to be heard."--Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies and Dean of the Graduate School, University of Toronto.
". . . a remarkably timely and useful account of the history of antisemitism. . . . In spite of the thousands of books . . . on antisemitism, it is often difficult to find a book suitable for students that describes lucidly and competently antisemitic delusions and myths as both a logical absurdity and also a force that has shaped much of the history of the last two thousand years. This book qualifies in these respects unlike any book I have ever seen. I am confident that others will find it similarly useful."--Derek H. Davis, Journal of Church and State
"A substantial, comprehensive, and updated historical survey of the main antisemitic myths. . . "--Leon Volovici, Antisemitism International: An Annual Research Journal of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism
About the Author
Marvin Perry taught history at Baruch College, City University of New York, for many years. His books include An Intellectual History of Modern Europe and Arnold Toynbee and the Western Tradition.
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The authors counters the Christian anti semitism with a critcal assessment of the gospels. They counter the absurd tales of blood libel with factual counter evidence. They counter the ridiculuous economic conspiracies with a bright illumination on the modern devlopments of capitalism, communism and democracy. Yet they readily acknowledged that the myths have such a strong hold on the ignorant and the hateful that it is often impervious to logic and evidence.
Their best addition to the liturgy is the chapter on holocaust deniers; the reader will become well equipped to defray these thinly disguised anti semitic frauds. They also devote a chapter (there are only 6) on the Nation of Islam (not to be confused with traditional Islam) as led by Farrakhan and the anti semitism they have established in the black community.
He soundly trounces the publishing of the "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews," a "protocol' like document that aims to stir black anti-semitism by blaming the Jews for the centuries of black degradation of the slave trade. While filled with very official looking footnotes and facts that may dupe the ignorant it is another ridiculous anti semtic fraud that the authors clearly place in the same trash heap as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and the Holocaust deniers.
The book spends less time analyzing anti-semitism in the Arab world, but that alone could consume volumes; (Read The Return of Anti-Semitsm by Gabriel Schoenfeld) and they do not devote much attention to anti semitism of the modern political Left. For that see The New Anti Semitsm by Phyllis Chesler or The Changing Face of Anti Semitsm by Walter Lacqueur.
In spite of those noted shortcomings it is well written, offers detailed response to specific antisemtic charges and adds more information about the deniers and the Nation of Islam followers. For those who want to learn how to respond to modern anti-semtic charges this may be the best single book of a very distinguished group of new writing on the longest hatred.
EVEN TODAY ARE IN THE REALM OF GROSS FANTASY...JEWS WERE ACCUSED OF THE PLAGUE ...THE KILLING OF
CHRIST..THE MURDER OF CHILDREN FOR THEIR BLOOD AND BODY PARTS...OF BEING SPAWNS OF THE DEVIL..
AND SO ON AND SO ON. TODAY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD THESE CHARGES ARE EVERY DAY OCCURENCES'
THE PRESIDENT OF TURKEY ..ERDOGAN.. RECENTLY SHOUTED TO SOMEONE PROTESTING THE TURKISH GOVERNMENTS MISERABLE RUNNING OF THE TRAGIC MINE RESCUE OPERATION ,,,,OVER 300 DEAD..ACCUSING THE
PROTESTER OF BEING A SPAWN OF THE JEWS.
THE BOOK ITSELF IS WELL WRITTEN AND WELL DETAILED AND IT DID NOT SURPRISE ME THAT WITH JEW HATRED
OVER THE AGES THAT THE RESULT WAS THE HOLOCAUST...WITH A MAJOR INPUT FROM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
AND IT IS NOW IN IRAN WHERE THE HOLOCAUST IS ON THE POINT OF BEING A JEWISH PLOT TO EXTRACT MONEY.
The first chapter examines the origins of anti-Jewish sentiment. It was on the top of a hill just outside the city walls of first century Jerusalem where anti-Jewish sentiment took hold of western civilization. This sentiment was the result of a propaganda-like attempt to 1) show the Levant's Roman overlords that they were not responsible for Jesus' death, and 2) portray Jews as the real villains, since early Christians and Jews were in competition, so to speak. Early Christians would have been in conflict with Jews because 1) the whole Christ-as-son-of-God thing, 2) the question of whether or not gentiles could become part of the flock, and 3) the quest of early Christians to separate themselves from the troublemaking Judeans.
Thus in the Gospel of John--perhaps the last of the four gospels to be penned--we are presented with a very unfriendly image of Jews; speaking of the Jews, "You are of you father the devil, and you will is to do your father's desires". Moreover, the entire trial of Jesus underwent a massive amount of artistic license. This was also the result of propagandization in favor of Romans over Jews: Pilate is portrayed as a mere bureaucrat who cannot help but be prodded by the swarm of Jews who call for Barabbas to be released in Jesus' stead. "It seems obvious that the gospels transformed the historical Pilate to serve kerygmatic ends" (p34). Early Christians had to win Roman converts somehow, and they weren't going to succeed if a Roman honcho was seen as the sole reason for the death of the New Testament's main protagonist. After the Roman Empire turned to Christianity, then, the Gospels were used as weapons against the powerless Jews.
The next chapter of the book examines the myth of ritual sacrifice. Medieval Jews were often charged with kidnapping Christian children in order to drink their blood and sacrifice their bodies to Judaism. (This is where the term "blood libel" comes from.) This is where the book's presentation begins to break down. Instead of a detailed analysis of the myth of ritual sacrifice, we are given an anthology of events; often one paragraph will describe a sorry event that took place in 13th century Poland, while the next paragraph will describe the same event that took place in 14th century Ukraine (and so on for many pages). It seemed to me that this problem continued throughout the rest of the book.
Chapter 3 examines the Jew-as-demon and the Jew-as-racial-Other. Again, the presentation of material was done rather poorly. After all, real anti-Semitism (which is different from anti-Judaism) begins here, when Jews were targeted as a separate race/ethnicity/nation and not merely a demonic religion. This is the most important chapter in the book, but the anthology-like treatment and lack of overarching analysis decreased its value. We are given summary of how Volkish thought in imperial Germany fostered the growth of anti-Semitism in Germany: Volkish thought opposed liberal Enlightenment thought, which the "Volk" (Volkish thinkers) saw as a threat to German way of life. Conservative Volkish thought thus had no trouble targeting Jews because Jews often identified with liberalism and the Enlightenment after they had been emancipated from the ghettos in the French Revolution; that is, Jews were seen as an extension of the spectre of liberalism that was sweeping across Europe. Coupled with a new and strong sense of nationalism, Volkish movements saw the liberal Enlightenment and Jews as threats to civilization. This is a good summary, but does it account for the whole of Europe?, or was it exclusive to Germany? I suppose the authors did not want to get into the Goldhagen debate...
Chapter 4 concerns the idea that Jews are capitalists. It examines the origins and development of this idea, the origins of which are rooted in the practice of usury in the medieval period, where Jews were often thrust into the curious position of being the only people in town to be allowed to loan money at interest while being scorned for doing so. Early sociologists are examined: eleven pages are spent on the lightweight Werner Sombart, while Karl Marx is grossly caricatured as an anti-Semite (see Singer's Marx: A Very Short Introduction for details). A reader can get much better coverage of capitalism and the Jews in a book by Jerry Muller of the same name (Capitalism and the Jews).
The last two chapters refute the "Holocaust myth" myth (the myth that the Holocaust is a myth) and examine anti-Semitism within the Nation of Islam respectively. Why the authors took it upon themselves to refute some sorry band of wackos had me guessing, and the chapter on the Nation of Islam is of little value (too much time is spent dispelling the myth that Jews were behind the Atlantic slave trade). A better method of ending the book would have been to examine anti-Semitism in the contemporary world: such an exposition would have taken up the same amount of space, yet would have been much more informative. The authors could have included information on anti-Semitism in the modern Middle East (instead there is a slim appendix at the end of the book), anti-Semitism and the modern Left (if such a claim is valid), the "Israel lobby", etc.
Overall this book is an okay introduction to anti-Semitism. It's full of examples and stuff, but light on sociological analysis. Too often it read like an anthology of events, and it definitely could have used a better editor, as information was often repeated more than once. A final word of caution: reading this book might lead you into thinking that all Eastern Europeans and blacks were/are anti-Semites.