The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

by Walter Laqueur
     
 

For thirty years the director of the Wiener Library in London, the leading institute for the study of anti-Semitism, Walter Laqueur here offers both a comprehensive history of anti-Semitism as well as an illuminating look at the newest wave of this phenomenon.
Laqueur begins with an invaluable historical account of this pernicious problem, tracing the

Overview

For thirty years the director of the Wiener Library in London, the leading institute for the study of anti-Semitism, Walter Laqueur here offers both a comprehensive history of anti-Semitism as well as an illuminating look at the newest wave of this phenomenon.
Laqueur begins with an invaluable historical account of this pernicious problem, tracing the evolution from a predominantly religious anti-Semitism—stretching back to the middle ages—to a racial anti-Semitism that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author then uses this historical account as backdrop to a brilliant analysis of the newest species of anti-Semitism, explaining its origins and rationale, how it manifests itself, in what ways and why it is different from anti-Semitism in past ages, and what forms it may take in the future. The book reveals that what was historically a preoccupation of Christian and right-wing movements has become in our time even more frequent among Muslims and left-wing groups. Moreover, Laqueur argues that we can't simply equate this new anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and write it off as merely anti-Israel sentiments. National and religious minority groups have been systematically persecuted from Indonesia, to Bangladesh, Rwanda, and beyond, but their fate has not generated much indignation in Europe and America. If Israel alone is singled out for heated condemnation, is the root of this reaction simply anti-Zionism or is it anti-Semitism?
Here is both a summing up of the entire trajectory of anti-Semitism—the first comprehensive history of its kind—and an exploration of the new wave of anti-Semitism that will be of interest to all concerned about the future of Jews, Judaism, and Israel.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An interesting general analysis of the variations of anti-Semitism over the past 2000 years.... Laqueur's major strength is his critique of contemporary issues, especially the role of Israel in anti-Semitic thought, and the question of the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism."—Library Journal

"Walter Laqueur provides us with powerful new insights into an age-old problem. Distinguished scholarship and an authoritative moral voice are the hallmarks of this important book. Anyone wanting to understand the history and persistence of anti-Jewish hatred should read it." —Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League and author of Never Again?: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism

"Once more, Walter Laqueur has brought his formidable learning, incisive style, and sheer brilliance in writing concise and yet gripping history to a subject matter of extraordinary complexity. The result is vintage Laqueur and an extremely valuable contribution to the subject of the history of antisemitism." —Michael Stanislawski, Nathan J. Miller Professor of Jewish History, Columbia University

"Walter Laqueur has written a thoughtful book about a difficult subject, bringing history and his own keen analytical skill together in a new way. Engagingly written, it offers both an overview of the past and an analysis of the 'new antisemitism.' He treats antisemitism sympathetically, even as he largely avoids the apologetics that characterize so much writing on the subject." —Mark R. Cohen, author of Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages

"A remarkable and eminently readable review of antisemitism throughout history from the persecution of the early Israelites in Egypt to the recent attacks on Jewish targets in twenty-first century Europe. Laqueur describes with skill and precision antisemitism's context in every era—be it economic, religious, social, or political." —Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, The American Jewish Committee

"A brilliant, lucid and compelling survey of a social, psychological, cultural, political and intellectual malady that has preoccupied and distorted European and Arab societies, Christian and Muslim civilizations, and both the political right and the political left. In this short volume, Laqueur provides an elegant, fast-paced and immensely readable account of a complex, confounding and still-mutating condition that continues to afflict our world. This book is a vital contribution to our understanding of an important and disturbing dimension of our past—and, as Laqueur so incisively shows, of our present and our future. There is no other book like it." —Walter Reich, Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University

"Well-researched and written by a very perceptive scholar. Especially worth reading and contemplating are the chapters on the modern era."—Washington Jewish Week

Library Journal
One of the difficulties in writing a short, comprehensive history of anti-Semitism is that the subject is too vast and the subfields too diverse to do justice to the overall complexity. Despite these pitfalls, Laqueur provides an interesting general analysis of the variations of anti-Semitism over the past 2000 years. While his discussion of its 19th- and 20th-century manifestations does not break any new historiographical ground, he does provide an important analysis of how Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism shifted since the 19th century from some level of self-blame that is, Jews accepting some "responsibility" for hostility because of their own actions to a realization that anti-Semitism is at its basic level an irrational belief system. Laqueur's major strength is his critique of contemporary issues, especially the role of Israel in anti-Semitic thought, and the question of the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. While he is not an apologist for all Israeli policy, Laqueur's most controversial interpretation is to assert that if Israel were as resource-rich as Russia (which has engaged in a brutal war against Muslims in Chechnya), or as economically powerful as China (with its attendant human rights abuses), it would not occupy its current position in contemporary discourse. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195304299
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/19/2006
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Walter Laqueur was Co-Chairman of the International Research Council at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington D.C. He is the author of many books and has published numerous articles in such newspapers and periodicals as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Encounter, and the New Republic. Laqueur's books and articles have been reprinted in many countries. His most recent works include Fascism: Past, Present, and Future and The New Terrorism: Fanaticism and the Arms of Mass Destruction.

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