The Velvet Kippah
The Unkindest Cut: Anti-Semitism Comes Roaring Back
The articles read like a succession of eulogies at a memorial service for world decency. Before even walking into the room, the author/interviewer makes sure that the reader has taken a good look at the body. Gerstenfeld is the former Chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a Jerusalem based think tank, and a prolific author. In 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism. His introduction to the volume considers the results of a 2011 poll by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, conducted by the University of Bielefeld. Among other questions, one was intended to measure the most extreme antipathy to Israel. The pollsters asked respondents (one thousand in each of seven European Union countries) whether they agreed with the assertion that Israel "is carrying out a war of extermination against the Palestinians." That statement -- particularly in Europe—would equate Israel with Nazi Germany, and could be presumed to show hatred of Jews, not just Israel.
Italy and the Netherlands came in with the lowest percentage of respondents who agreed, at 38 percent and 39 percent. Poland took the highest ranking, with 63 percent. If the results are extrapolated to the total EU population, the conclusion drawn is that well over 150 million EU citizens consider Israel genocidal. Gerstenfeld turns somber:
Medieval Christian society considered the killing of G-d's son as "absolute evil." In today's society, absolute evil is to commit genocide or behave like the Nazis did. The current demonic view of Israel, widespread in mainstream Europe, is a new mutation of the diabolical beliefs about Jews held by many in the Middle Ages.
Read the book if you have a strong constitution. But don't share it with a survivor. It will ruin their day. They deserve better.
Yitzchok Adlerstein is an Orthodox rabbi who directs interfaith affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and chairs Jewish Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He is hopelessly addicted to the serious study of Torah texts.