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Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England Hardcover – May 3, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is essential history, and so it is fortunate it has been written by a man with the extraordinary fluency, staggering erudition, scholarly integrity, intellectual acument, and more discernment of Anthony Julius." --Philip Roth

"Once he gets to the modern era Julius writes with unrivalled authority and these chapters will be required reading for anyone interested in the subtle and often cruel ways in which anti-Jewish views have been expressed by the English in the last century, as well as the disturbing ways in which anti-Zionism has of late shaded into a new and permissible form of anti-Semitism." --James Shapiro, Financial Times

"Trials of the Diaspora is an extraordinary testament to the brilliance of its author." --Keith Kahn-Harris, Forward

About the Author

Anthony Julius is Chairman of the London Consortium, a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Vice-President of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The author of several books, including T. S. Eliot: Anti-Semitism and Literary Form, he was the defense attorney in the renowned Irving vs. Lipstadt Holocaust denial case, and continues to be active in the fight against anti-Semitic activities.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1St Edition edition (May 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199297053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199297054
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 2.1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on May 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This work is a detailed and difficult account of how pervasive anti- Semitism has been in English life and literature. It moves from medieval times to the present, and has a powerful indictment of present- day anti- Semitism among the chattering classes in England. As a long- time student and lover of English Literature I was most impressed by the work on anti- Semitism in English literary life. Julius here follows the work of a great scholar the late Harold Fisch who pioneered in this area. In a recent review of Julius' work perhaps the most powerful present- day reader of the work of Shakespeare , Harold Bloom, expresses his deep sense of trouble at knowing that the greatest writer of all, nonetheless produced Shylock. There is no doubt that Julius is correct in seeing that whether it is the blood- libel in the Nun Prioress' Tale of Chaucer, or Fagin in Dickens 'Oliver Twist' the most powerful images of Jews in English Literature are negative ones. One of course can speak of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, and Joyce's Leopold Bloom as counterweights but the dull Deronda and the everyman Bloom (Created after all by an Irishman) are not real counterweights. And it is not simply Shakespeare in his time but also Marlowe, and of course in our own time T.S. Eliot's Bleistein with his cigar.
The role of academics and journalists, and also of trade- unions in the latest form of British anti- Semitism , is made painfully clear in this work. Israel is accused of all the crimes which its enemies are guilty of. In perhaps the most ridiculous case of moral inversion in modern times the predominant weight of opinion in the British Media ( most egregiously perhaps the BBC and the Guardian)finds that Israel is guilty , whatever it does, and especially of course when it defends itself.
This work is not easy to read. But it overwhelms in its meticulousness of detail and in its accuracy.
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Format: Hardcover
If you have ever seen Elia Kazan's 1947 Academy Award winning film "Gentleman's Agreement", one is constantly reminded of its exploration of the insidiousness of "polite" antisemitism. It is easy to identify antisemitism when it is wearing a swastika armband, burning books and breaking windows. If only they were always so conspicuous! Antisemites are not (necessarily) idiots; all but the most extreme are easily able to understand that they will be shunned if they permit themselves to be seen openly. Antisemites are not (necessarily) genocidal; there are many possibilities of nature and degree. The most interesting part of this engaging book is the insightful way Julius unmasks the crypto-antisemite. These are identified by their deployment of antisemitic stereotypes, false arguments, double-standards, racialist metaphors, odious comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany, etc. This is what many of the negative reviewers of this book fail, or refuse, to understand. They suggest that Julius imagines a Nazi under every British bed or that he is an apologist for the Israeli far right. This is not the point. It is, in fact, the same tactic of delegitimisation (of Israel) that Julius discusses as a possible signpost. The point is not that Britons are all a bunch of Jew-haters (which they clearly are not) or whether Julius' politics are left or right (I don't know what they are); the point is that antisemitism lives, and has always lived, in Britain. Sometimes, its Britishness is distinctive. It doesn't just speak German (or Arabic), it isn't necessarily an uneducated thug in jackboots and it rarely announces itself. Read this book. It is well-written and draws on a wide variety of interesting sources. You will not necessarily agree with everything contained in it, but there is no denying the force of many of its observations or its contribution to scholarship.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I was a boy in Berlin in the early years of the Nazi regime, some five or ten years before the Holocaust, a young rabbi broke the conventions of rabbinical discourse and managed to bring solace and spiritual strength to the Jews of the city. He created a sensation. Jews who would never enter a synagogue otherwise made their way to hear him. This rabbi's name was Joachim Prinz and in due course he became a leader of American Jewry. But in those early 1930's, he held the rapt attention of his people, speaking approximately as follows:

"Everywhere you read and hear that you are ugly and hateful. Right now, look at the person next to you: is he hateful ? Is he ugly ? "

And suddenly Rabbi Prinz's listeners, cowed as they had been by the incessant propaganda of the haters, could see the truth: no, the Nazis were not right. They could see the irrationality of all that hatred. They could see, and they knew that they should have seen all the time, that it was not they who were the guilty ones.

This book by Anthony Julius performs something of the same function for us today that Rabbi Prinz performed for the Jews in the 1930's. All around us the "enlightened" tell us of the perfidy of the Jews. who are nowadays called Zionists. If only Israel (read, the Jews) behaved better, all would be well. In the meantime, it is important to punish the "Zionists." Boycott them ! Divest from Israeli investments ! Sanction them !

On the notion of boycott, as on many other issues, Julius is particularly revealing, showing the ancient, irrational hatreds that move people to call for boycotts of Israel, the only country so singled out.

There are scores and maybe hundreds of books on the modern anti-Semitism. I am familiar with many of them.
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