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Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism Paperback – May 11, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
Some of my other favorite contributions: David Mamet's feisty look at the "blunt trauma" of his nostalgic love of Israel. Philip Greenspun's darkly sardonic examination of the real dynamics of terrorism. Simon Schama's unflinching, revolting tour of hatred on the Internet. Laurie Zoloth's hair-raising eyewitness account of the famous anti-Semitic near riot at San Fransisco State. Todd Gitlin and Melanie Philips on how anti-Semitism has largely moved from the political right to the left. Marie Brenner's first-hand report on the growing, despicable conditions in France. Daniel Gordis' plea to the non-Israeli Jewish left to get serious and stop intellectualizing the murder of Jews.
Harold Evans neatly puts things in their proper perspective. It isn't anti-Semitism to question the wisdom of specific Israeli policies. However, "it is anti-Semitism to vilify the state of Israel as a diabolical abstaction; it is anti-Semitic to invent malignant outrages; it is anti-Semitic to consistently condemn in Israel what you ignore or condone elsewhere; it is above all, anti-Semitic to dehumanize Judaism and the Jewish people so as to incite and justify their extermination." (page 47) In this trying and difficult time of war this book is a sobering reminder of what is at stake, and why we in the West fight.
It is with pain that Melanie Phillips writes, "Want to make yourself, really, really unpopular if you're a Jew? Try saying that the world is witnessing a terrifying firestorm of hatred directed at Israel and the Jewish people in which the Europeans are deeply implicated"; it is with pain that Edward Said writes that "There is now a creeping, nasty wave of anti-Semitism insinuating itself into our political thought and rhetoric...When I mentioned the Holocaust in an article I wrote here last November I received more vilification than I thought possible.." The pain these authors feel is evident; so evident that the reader will need to take breaks from this book. Frequent breaks. For the pictures it paints-from the European, American, Arab, or Israeli perspectives are not pretty ones. They are ugly as only racism can be ugly.
But the authors of this book do not flinch from this ugliness; they stare it in the face. They expose it for what it is. They do not hide it behind euphemisms and double standards; they assure it that (as Harold Evans puts it) "There are things which are bad, and false, and ugly, and no amount of specious casuistry will make them good or true or beautiful."
This book was written by those who dared to look, unflinching at this ugliness and, more, to write about it; to expose it. And that is what makes this book, if not enjoyable, then immensely precious and worthwhile. For it was written by the decent amongst us.
I recommend it.
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