Journal Article — Anti-Semitism in the Peculiar Context of Eastern Europe — by David Ost

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Theorists of the “new anti-Semitism” argue that anti-Semitism expresses itself today not as hostility towards Jews but as hostility towards Israel. They argue that this new approach makes anti-Semitism more dangerous than ever before, since it renders it harder to spot, harder to denounce, and easier for proponents to deny. This essay takes issue with this approach, both by pointing to its logical inconsistencies and by bringing in the example of Eastern Europe, where anti-Semitism has often coincided not with anti-Zionism but with pro-Zionism.

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Abstract

Theorists of the “new anti-Semitism” argue that anti-Semitism expresses itself today not as hostility towards Jews but as hostility towards Israel. They argue that this new approach makes anti-Semitism more dangerous than ever before, since it renders it harder to spot, harder to denounce, and easier for proponents to deny. This essay takes issue with this approach, both by pointing to its logical inconsistencies and by bringing in the example of Eastern Europe, where anti-Semitism has often coincided not with anti-Zionism but with pro-Zionism. It then offers an interpretation of contemporary anti-Semitism as connected to economic insecurity, and proposes the applicability of this alternative approach to contemporary Poland; and argues that contemporary anti-Semitism in Poland is itself exacerbated by a pervasive “anti-Polonism” on the part of western Jews, which is attributed to a faulty generalization of “survivor” experiences.

Recommended Citation

Ost, David. 2009. “Anti-Semitism in the Peculiar Context of Eastern Europe.” Pp. 15-22 in Historicizing Anti-Semitism (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VII, Issue 2, 2009.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

The various editions of Historicizing Anti-Semitism can be ordered from the Okcir Store and are also available for ordering from all major online bookstores worldwide (such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and others).


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