A hatred that dwells alone? Antisemitism debate cuts to heart of Zionist vision


In ongoing fracas around Yair Lapid’s speech on antisemitism’s place in the family of hatreds comes an unstated reckoning between Zionist expectations and a bitter reality

Hundreds of mayors and lawmakers in a procession in Milan showing solidarity with Liliana Segre, the target of repeated antisemitic threats, 10 December 2019

Haviv Rettig Gur writes in The Times of Israel on 26 July 2021:

On July 14, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested in a speech that antisemitism was not as special as many Jews believe, but rather is but one bigotry among many in the rich and variegated mosaic of human hatred.

Antisemitism, he told the Global Conference on Combating Antisemitism gathered in Jerusalem, “exists everywhere…. The antisemites weren’t just in the Budapest Ghetto” of his Holocaust survivor father’s youth. “The antisemites were slave traders who threw chained slaves overboard into the ocean. The antisemites were the members of the Hutu tribe in Rwanda who massacred members of the Tutsi tribe. The antisemites are the Muslim extremists who killed 20 million fellow Muslims in the last decade. The antisemites are Islamic State and Boko Haram. The antisemites are people who beat to death young members of the LGBT community.”

Indeed, Lapid said, “the antisemites are all those who persecute people not for what they’ve done, but for what they are, for how they were born…. Antisemitism isn’t the first name of hatred, it’s the family name; it’s all those consumed by hatred to the point that they want to murder and destroy and persecute and banish people just because they’re different.”

While he affirmed that the Holocaust was unique in human history, “modern antisemitism, with which we’re grappling today, exists everywhere. And to fight it, we need allies.”

His comments ignited a firestorm of criticism and a fierce left-right dustup in the Hebrew-language media.  Right-wingers, led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, lashed Lapid’s comments as “scandalous and irresponsible, warping history and emptying the concept of antisemitism of all content.”  “While antisemitism, hatred of Jews, is part of the general human phenomenon of hatred of others,” Netanyahu said in response, “it’s different from it in intensity, in its durability over millennia, and in the murderous ideology nurtured for generations to prepare the way for the extermination of the Jews.”

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