According to Professor Robert S. Wistrich, Neuberger chair for Modern European History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, anti-Semitism is very much alive and growing worse every day.
In an interview to Israel National News TV, the Director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), who has also authored “A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad” (named ‘Best Book of 2010’ by The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism), said that he believes that “anti-Semitism has reached a level that we have not seen since World War II,” and added that this is “the most dangerous period for Jews in terms of the way they are perceived by others. We’ve reached a more dangerous period than at any time since the end of World War II and the establishment of Israel.”
Wistrich explained that anti-Semitism today is directed not just towards Israel but towards Jews around the world. According to him, most people identify anti-Semitism with very obvious symbols and images, such as Nazis, fascist demonstrations, or calls to throw the Jews out of a particular country. However, as he explained, these images are much less visible today, and anti-Semitism in 2010 has changed its form. “In the last 40 years, the most dynamic form of anti-Semitism is the one that is transmitted through anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel,” explained Wistrich.
He believes that anti-Semitism based on hatred of Israel is easier to carry out since it is legal in most countries to say anything one wants against Israel and not be prosecuted by the law.
Addressing the question of whether differences exist between anti-Semitism of the past and modern anti-Semitism, Wistrich said that there are not many differences today, since boycotts of Jews which existed then and still exist now. “[A] boycott works first of all against the Jews who live in Israel and it works against Jews who are supportive of Israel. This is a clear continuity from the classic anti-Semitism that we knew in the past.”
He added that the most concrete threat to Israel today is Iran and its proxies: Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas. However, he also believes that Israelis and Jews do not do much to raise awareness about this threat. “I don’t feel that there is a sufficient awareness,” said Wistrich. “If we don’t stand up for ourselves, how can we expect others to become passionately involved?”
Wistrich believes that Israelis should take an example from the Arabs, who have been saying for decades that they refuse to give up on certain things.
“The problems of today, including the rabid incitement in neighboring countries in the Arab world, we don’t talk about it. We don’t protest about it. We keep it quiet,” said Wistrich. “This is a huge mistake. We have claims. We have grievances. We have a right to demand that in the context of any peace agreement if this does not stop then that agreement will be meaningless.”