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A Lethal Obsession: Anti-semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad Hardcover – January 5, 2010
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An indisputably serious problem with global ramifications deserves an equally serious and comprehensive treatment. Modern Jewish historian Wistrich has provided just that in his masterful dissection of the origins, the dissemination, and the consequences of anti-Semitism in all of its most blatant and most subtle manifestations. Though the size and the scope of this treatise may be initially daunting, intrepid readers will be rewarded by the clarity of the scholarly presentation. Arguing that anti-Semitism in our post–World War II world has returned with a vengeance and is, perhaps, more widespread and virulent than ever, he traces the ever-broadening roots of what he considers the “oldest and darkest of ideological obsessions.” No matter what political or ideological slants readers might bring to the table, this is a significant, wide-ranging discourse on the topic of anti-Semitism that cannot and should not be ignored. Wistrich has painstakingly done his homework and laid out his analysis, providing plenty of food for thought and discussion. --Margaret Flanagan
"A monumental and encyclopedic work—one of the most compelling studies of anti-Semitism past and present that I have read. It is likely to become the seminal work on the subject—a must for scholars of hate and anti-Semitism." —Irwin Cotler, MP: Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Professor of Law, McGill University
"A message of this remarkable work is that the Holocaust did not only discredit anti-Semitism. In a sinister way, the murder of six million Jews has also inspired fantasies of completing what the Third Reich had begun, and has led to widespread defamation of Israel by equating its policies with Nazism. The grim case that Robert Wistrich advances in A Lethal Obsession is overwhelming. In the awesome scale of its research, in its moral and literary force, and in its compelling political urgency, there is no book quite like it."—Stephen J. Whitfield, Professor of American Civilization, Brandeis University.
"This is a splendid work of history. A masterpiece."—Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
"Robert Wistrich's work is a monument to scholarship, precision, and passion. It is likely to become the single most essential treatment of anti-Semitism for all those who seek to understand it and combat it." —Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler
"At the heart of Wistrich's book is a holistic and global approach that seeks to analyze and understand the evolution of a "culture of hatred" that has continued to dehumanize Jews until this very day. Intrigued by its uncanny ability to adapt, the author masterfully explores the various mutations of anti-Semitism where it connects with contemporary social and political crises. This book contains valuable new information and insights and is bound to become indispensable for the study of anti-Semitism world wide."—Jehuda Reinharz, Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History and President, Brandeis University
"In this major work of historical synthesis, Robert Wistrich offers abundant evidence that genocidal anti-Semitism, and apologetics and indifference about is not only a matter of the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Rather it remains a key element of contemporary affairs. A Lethal Obsession, the result of years of scholarship, presents a profound and incisive interpretation of anti-Semitism both before and after 1945. Wistrich offers remarkable, and infuriating details of the persistence and permutation of this hallucinatory set of ideas within Europe as well as in the Middle East, North Africa and Iran, He writes with the interpretive grasp of a historian of the first rank as well as with the passion and urgency that is so essential in the face of the genocidal threats made against Israel and the Jews in recent years. It is both a major work of enduring scholarly value as well as a much needed reminder to political leaders and citizens of the profound danger posed by the advocates of the delusions that anti-Semitism has fostered in the past and continues to foster in the present."—Jeffrey Herf, author of The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust and Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World and professor of Modern European History, University of Maryland, College Park
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I had no idea that persecution of Jews was started by Christian Rome, or that the stereotypes and accusations about Jews that we see today are almost the same as when the Christians first began to demonize their founding religion.
It appears to have been useful as a political tool to show that Christians were not Jews. Repetition made this debasement of Jews into an article of faith. Muslims and Christians both have someone to blame their troubles on, it's always the Jews. This attitude justifies them in cursing and demonizing the Jews in the sacred liturgy and in sermons to the faithful.
I find it ironic that any Jewish rabbi, such as Jesus was, is presumed to be sneaky and untrustworthy. But this idea didn't start until long after Jesus was dead. He would be quite surprised, should he return, to find that those who claim to follow his teaching would still beat him up for being a Jew.
After reading the first few chapters, I was amazed that there are still people who identify and worship as Jews. After all their hardships, it makes we wonder if a divine hand is at work.