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Anti-Semitism disguised as ‘progressive’ politics

People protest against circumcision in Washington, D.C., in 2013. (Elvert Barnes/CC BY-SA 2.0)

The late Robert Wistrich described anti-Semitism as the longest hatred. It’s as prevalent today as it was more than 2,000 years ago and appears in countless guises. In view of the way we communicate nowadays, it’s arguably even more widespread than in the past. There hasn’t been a calamity in the world that hasn’t been blamed on the Jews and hardly a Jewish community that hasn’t been affected.

Even in modern-day Canada, anti-Semitic incidents occur regularly and there’s little to suggest that they’re fewer in number nowadays, even though they aren’t as lethal as in some other countries.

Recent allegations made by Poland’s prime minister that Jews co-operated with the Nazis may have been technically accurate in some individual cases, but according to reputable Holocaust scholars, he used it to distort history and to justify recent anti-Jewish legislation that was passed in his country. It’s anti-Semitism in yet another disguise.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “speculation” that those who interfered with the U.S. presidential election might have been American Jews of Russian descent is just a modern variation on the perennial lie that the Jews are the cause of all the evil in the world. In the past, Jews were blamed for killing Jesus and spreading the Black Death. Today, we’re are blamed for meddling in democratic elections.


And then there’s Israel. Though criticism of its policies may be justified at times, the international BDS campaign is yet another way of attacking Jews, this time in the guise of human rights.

Anti-Semitic policies can even be found in places where Jews are virtually non-existent. Iceland is a case in point. It has a population of 335,000 and a Jewish community of only 250. Yet a “progressive” parliamentarian there has taken it upon herself to try to ban Jewish ritual circumcision – not on anti-Semitic grounds, of course, but for “humanitarian” reasons.

Writing in Spiked magazine, Frank Furedi, a retired professor at the University of Kent in the U.K., urged Iceland to “stop this moral crusade against circumcision.” He reminds readers that this “is only the latest version of a more than 2,000-year-long crusade against the right of Jewish people to circumcise their sons.”

His reference is to the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus’ decree in 167 BCE that forbade Jews from circumcising their sons, as part of his campaign to destroy Jewish life. The Maccabees rebelled against it. We now celebrate Hanukkah to remind ourselves of, and guard against, the longest hatred.

Polish President Andrzej Duda

According to Furedi, “Throughout history, the ‘circumcised Jew’ has been a subject of vilification. During the 15th century, Christian suspicion of the Jew often focused on the ritual of circumcision. This obsession led to the emergence of the blood libel, when it was suggested that Jews coveted the blood of ritually murdered Christians for its healing effect when applied to wounds of circumcision.”

The current campaign in Iceland is being done in the name of children’s rights. “But there is no such thing as children’s rights,” Furedi insists. “People having rights presupposes their capacity to exercise them. Since children are not able to exercise their rights, it will fall on kindly people to campaign on their behalf.” In this case, the kindly people seem to be hiding behind an anti-Semitic policy that has been used to attack Jews for millennia.

And in several countries, anti-Semitism is masquerading as campaigns for animal rights. Attacks on kosher slaughter are of that ilk.

Proponents of anti-kosher slaughter and anti-circumcision laws often say that they are opposed to religion in general, not Judaism in particular. They point to Muslim dietary laws and Islam’s practice of circumcising boys (and, in many cases, girls, as well). But would Muslims be under attack had Jews not been involved?

Liberal-minded Jews must not be duped into believing that circumcision is the same as female genital mutilation. This false equivalency is just another manifestation of the longest hatred.