Politics - Antisemitism

On what cultural soil is the radical condemnation of Israel based? Eva Illouz applies the principle of deconstruction of representations so beloved of part of the Left to the question of antisemitism. She sheds light on the old trope that feeds militant passion, and allows it to clear its conscience: the idea that Jews represent a danger to humanity.

The historical crises of the first two decades of the 21st century, from 9/11 to the coronavirus pandemic and further, have prompted much discussion about conspiracy theories and their detrimental impact on the public sphere, public reason, democratic institutions, and, indeed, democratic political regimes. This renewed interest has been kindled in particular by the ever-growing presence of different, so-called “alternative” news outlets that reject mainstream news media coverage and framing. At the same time, conspiracy theories are linked to the concept of social critique and critical social science in general: there are debates in which they are discussed in relationship with the proper operation of democracy, contrasted to the rule of an antidemocratic elite. However, if conspiratorial criticism is simply taken as just another anti-hegemonic form of critique, as it is frequently done in some critical interpretations, then an important point will be missed, namely that it may turn out to be antisemitic. Conversely, it is equally or even more problematic if anti-hegemonic critique turns into antisemitism due to a conspiratorial worldview.

What is going on in Belgium? Joël Kotek is alarmed at the spread of an “anti-Israeli passion” across the entire Belgian political spectrum, and asks what is allowing the expression of unabashed antisemitism in Europe’s capital.

On February 26, a riot broke out on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, on the occasion of the visit of an Israeli lecturer. Daniel Solomon, a doctoral student in history and K.’s first English translator , gives us an insider’s account of the event and the threatening climate in which it took place. As the rise of antisemitism calls into question American exceptionalism, Solomon examines the loss of illusions, and the sense of loneliness that accompanies it.

In this latest instalment of our series, conceived in partnership with DILCRAH, on antisemitism in Europe, Liam Hoare looks at Austria’s strategy for combating hatred and prejudice against Jews. After exploring how Austria intends to take responsibility for its Nazi past and promote Jewish life, this week Liam Hoare develops the challenges and paradoxes of this endeavor. Like most Western countries, Austria has seen a resurgence of antisemitism in recent years, and is governed by a party associated with the far right. How can we ensure the long-term stability of Austrian Jewish life at a time when the war in Gaza is setting tempers alight in Europe?

In this latest instalment of our series on antisemitism in Europe, produced in partnership with DILCRAH, Liam Hoare looks at Austria’s strategy for combating hatred and prejudice against Jews. In this first part of his investigation, which will be concluded next week, he focuses on the desire to ensure the continuity of Austrian Jewish life, notably through an educational policy. But how does this fit in with Austria’s history of collaboration in the Nazi crimes?

This text was written in a different context from that which emerged after October 7. It did, however, anticipate a double question precipitated by this event: that of the specificity of antisemitism within the logic of racism, and that of what, in contemporary societies, makes the potential victims of racism sometimes bearers, paradoxically, of antisemitic arguments.

Philip Spencer, author of numerous texts on modern anti-Semitism and the Shoah – and more particularly on the problems raised by their treatment on the left – is now a member of the new London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, founded by David Hirsh. In his interview with K., in which he discusses his own political career, he looks back at the reactions to 7 October in England, going through the history of the undigested legacy of the British mandate over Palestine and the history of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

The speech by German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party, on the situation in the Middle East on 2 November struck a chord. With an infallible clarity that in Europe could probably only come from Germany, he insisted both on the right of the Palestinians to have their own state and on Israel’s right to defend its security. He criticised the ambivalence of some sections of public opinion towards Hamas and explained why Germany and Europe, if they want to remain true to the basis of their political legitimacy, must not give in in the fight against anti-Semitism under any circumstances and for no “humanitarian” reason. K. introduces the translation of his speech into French with a short text by Julia Christ and Danny Trom explaining its significance in the confusion of current political discourse.

With the support of:

Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.