Wolpe: List reminds us fight against hatred of Jews must remain alive

AFP/GETTY IMAGES Hungarian citizens take part in a demonstration in front of the parliament building in Budapest on Dec. 2 … Continued


Hungarian citizens take part in a demonstration in front of the parliament building in Budapest on Dec. 2 , 2012 against anti-Semitism in Hungary. A Hungarian far-right deputy suggestion to compile a list of other parliament representaives “of Jewish origin” sparked an outcry on November in Hungary, which has seen a series of anti-Semitic incidents in recent months.

Last week, the Simon Wiesenthal Center released its 2012 list of top ten list of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles wrote the following in response to annual list.

Writes Wolpe:

Three parties and two governments. For the observer of anti-Semitism, the presence on the list of those who wield serious and sustained power is a frightening fact. These are not vagrant and outcast individuals, spewing hate in the hope of inflaming some renegade cadre of followers. Anti-Semitism is institutionalized in some of the major governments of the Middle East and Europe.

This list is a stark reminder that anti-Semitism is a protean hatred. It ranges across the globe and across the political spectrum from right to left. The themes of money, power, conspiracy and control alongside vampiric images recur; denial of history is a constant undercurrent; but in the end, like all deep, enduring hatreds, it transcends not only reason but reasons. It has its origin in the dark and twisted regions of the human psyche where evil breeds.

Those who attribute the hatred to Israel are fooling themselves. First, the greatest catastrophe in Jewish history, the Holocaust, predated the founding of the state. Second, even if you believe that Israel has acted terribly toward its neighbors (a proposition I by no means concede) you have to wonder why the same global anathema did not arise against, say, the French in Algeria or the Belgians because of Congo or any of countless other nations who have behaved abominably. The worst atrocities of nations never evoked the kind of global, bloodthirsty, awful images and tropes that are regularly leveled against Israel. And of course contemporary images and motifs borrow from those that existed for centuries before the modern state of Israel.

In the Ukraine, in Greece, in nations that have awful records of murderous actions toward the Jews who lived in their midst, past shame proves no vaccination against renewed hatred. And what are we to say of the continued presence on the public stage of Louis Farrakhan in our own country? Can we imagine a man who would speak about African Americans in public with the venom Farrakhan reserves for Jews still retaining any sort of platform? Of course not. He would long since have been shunted from the public stage. Yet this brand of lunatic hatred finds a considerable audience in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Looking at this list, this dispiriting annual list, what can one conclude? First that holding haters to account is an unpleasant but indispensable service. Second, that the two primary offenders on the list are governments with the power to profoundly affect matters in the Middle East.

And finally, understanding anti-Semitism must analyze the haters, not the hated. Whatever Mohamed Morsi and Farrakhan and English soccer fans share, it is not a dispassionate consideration of Jewish behavior. Sympathy to Israel may rise or fall with its actions, but anti-Semitism is a strain of loathing resistant to melioration by its victim. Some things can be soothed, some ignored, and others must simply be confronted and fought. The Wiesenthal list reminds us, if any had forgotten, that the fight against hatred of Jews must, sadly, remain alive and well.

David Wolpe
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  • It wasn’t me

    So if we are to believe this “article” …everybody who dislikes apartheid state of Israel is anti semite……yup right.

    usual rubbish from wapo

  • ThomasBaum

    Maybe you should read the article.


    When did criticism of Israel equal anti-Semitism?

    It doesn’t, and it’s a cheap out, a sh*theel way to dismiss valid criticism.

  • It wasn’t me

    I’ve read all of it and it is mumbo jumbo ,nothing more.

  • craigtravis

    I suppose the way they treat their Arab captives doesn’t leave them open to the kind of criticism only a good slur can convey

  • xexon

    Most modern anti-semitism is mostly a result of zionist Israel. It represents itself as a Jewish state. Poorly. The average person thinks it somehow represent the voice of Judaism as well.

    Then there is the deep seated hatred of Jews that is passed down from generation to generation. Mostly in Europe. It’s a hate from olden times. Who knows how it originally started? It’s buried under the sands of time. But even that is on the wane because of our more global awareness. We simply have bigger issues now. And localized issues begin to pale by comparison.

    In reality, Jews have never had it so good. They dominate in areas of technology and entertainment. Some of the best film to come out of Hollywood have Jewish names attached to them. Things like this go a long way in disarming old ideas about anti-semitism.

    The old hates will fade with each generation in the old countries. The modern hate will continue as long as Israel is controlled by the zionists.

    We must wait and be patient a while longer.


  • WmarkW

    You sure you posted this to the right place?

    Nobody at On Faith ever crticizes Louis Farrakhan here.

  • HNS84

    I completely agree. Criticism of the far-right, extremely hateful, genocidal policies of the Israeli government and authorities towards the Palestinian people is most certainly NOT anti-semitic at all. They are completely different things. There are so many Jews that are opposed to these hateful, right-wing policies of Israel towards the Palestinians. And what about fighting against hatred against PALESTINIANS. The US government people should fight to stop hatred against Palestinians by those right-wing extremist zionists who are obviously themselves filled with hatred. The American people should remember that it was zionists like congressman Eric Cantor who voted AGAINST the Senate-sponsored bill to avert the “fiscal cliff”. These hate-filled zionists apparently intended to destroy the US and world economies and to push the US economy back into recession.

  • Sadetec

    Certainly Catholicism has a pretty shocking reputation when it comes to anti-Semitism, but to be fair the Old Testament (if nothing else) tells us this hatred began long before the arrival of any form of Christianity. Sure, once Christianity arrived on the scene it became a very powerful (and well funded) channel for anti-Semitic bigotry, and no doubt helped to spread such sentiments around the world as the Christian faith expanded.

  • Secular1

    I think Mr. Wolpe is being too cute by half, here. While I am, whole heartedly, in sync with him over the larger issue of antisemitism, for the past few decades there has been an astronomical increase in the anti-gentilism, if you will. I have done a cursory research on this aspect and was horrified to learn that Garak’s comment was made with some facts to support.

    Antisemitism is quite complicated, but by far the the largest component is monotheism, without a shadow of doubt. It not only evidenced in antisemitism, but also in antigentilism. Then the next two major reasons are, the European expiation of its antisemitism in late 1940s, and the evangelical christians to hasten the 2nd coming of their mythical man.

    Coming back to monotheism, the three monotheistic religions are in winner take all death throes. Off all the sky daddy, sky mommy fairy tales that have come about amongst people the monotheistic fairy tales are by definition very obscurantist and most destructive ones of all. While the polytheistic ones are indeed superstitious, they are very tolerant, in so far as accepting few more deities. This is well evidenced in the past the greco-roman, egypto-greek conciliations/accommodations. Ongoing accommodation by the eastern religions to even the mono-theistic religions is telling.

    The whole problem is written into the organizing fairy tales of the three religions, from the day one. Take the early fairy tales we generally call the old testament. It is one grotesquely filthy, divisive, & decrypt tome. It is not only amoral piece of fiction, but is replete with in-group nepotism and out-group hostility. Based onthat tome Baalists were exterminated from teh face of the earth much like, in fact much more efficiently and effectively than, a modern day home owner exterminates pests.

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  • Secular1

    Continued from above:

    I wonder if the Baalists had survived the past 25 centuries, if we wouldn’t be talking about anti-baalism, with the troika competing to devour what remained of baalism. The intolerance of the OT is so pervasive that even-though all three religions are presumably subservient to the same mythical sky daddy, it was easily turned against them. So, when the nazerenes came around the orthodox establishment (read more intolerant), could not find it in the fairy tales and in themselves to accommodate the new starnd of their own fairy talers. In their turn the new stranders and their converts been nursed on the mother’s milk of intolerance espoused in OT, turned the tables. All they had to was to tweak the interpretation of the tomes to cast the previous owners as the other and added deity killer moniker to rile up the adherents once they became powerful enough. Some 6 centuries later comes the misogynist of Arabia. The polytheists of Arabia were willing to accommodate him, but he would hear none of it and would not rest till the accommodation was complete and without any remnants left. He started out being accommodating to the Judaism, heck he only wanted to bring judaism to arabia. But the original OTers could not bring themselves to accept the minor adulterations of the OT in acknowledging the Misogynist as one of their own. This brought upon them the wrath of the dissed paramour. Islam started off with Ilia (arabic for Jebus, which was Caananite for Jerusalem) as the most holy places, but with the rebuff, Mecca took ist place and this was followed with latter revelations full of tirades and rants against the OTer, and the nazerenes along with the load against polytheists. Antisemitism is written into its organizing fairy tale tomes koran & hadith. No wonder the muslims of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, South-asia and elsewhere embrace antisemitism. Even-though these people have never, and would never come across a jew.

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  • ThomasBaum

    When anyone considers that anything and everything that Israel does is wrong and that all Jews should be exterminated from the face of the earth, I consider that to be anti-Jewish, as opposed to anti-semitic, since the word “semitic” encompasses more than just Jews.

    There are those that do subscribe to these beliefs and some of those are very vocal in speaking of these beliefs.

    At least one things that I do have to give to these people that have these beliefs and are very vocal about it, is that they are at least being honest about their beliefs and not speaking with a “forked tongue” as some others do.

  • Secular1

    Sorry I mis-characterized MO as misogynist, instead of calling him misanthrope. He was not narrowed to a single gender – as far as that goes he was not at all gender specific. My apologies.

  • Secular1

    Sorry I mis-characterized MO as misogynist, instead of calling him misanthrope. He was not narrowed to a single gender – as far as that goes he was not at all gender specific. My apologies.

  • Secular1

    HNS84, you are bat-crap-crazy hate mongrer. I am singling you out for because you incapable of any rational thought you see zionism under every rock. For you to equate Mr. Kantor vote last night as a zionist plot to ruin American economy shows what kind of a bigot you are. I guess theremaining 150 Repubs and several Dems were marching to Kantors drum beat, when they voted against. What about Steve Israel, did he go off the ranch and other Jewish democrats who voted for?

    It is the idiotic bigots like you who pollute the public square. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  • haveaheart

    “Sympathy to Israel may rise or fall with its actions, but anti-Semitism is a strain of loathing resistant to melioration by its victim.”

    It is exactly for this reason that sympathy for Israel’s enemies must not be dismissed out of hand as anti-semitism. Israel’s actions have consequences, and sometimes those consequences include being criticized by its allies.

    Who makes the call on whether a given sentiment is a falling-off of sympathy for Israel or an anti-semitic position? If every criticism is rebuffed as “anti-semitic,” then Israel has effectively elevated itself above accountability.

    There is no reason that its allies should accept such a stance.

  • EKM

    I have been reading all the year end articles on the state of anti-semitism. My inbox gets daily requests from the ADL. However, what about daily life in the U.S? I live in Texas, with my family which includes three young children. I have a kindergardener who, due to autism, is being mainstreamed from a PPCD program. Transititions are traumatic for her. Yet, she is having her classroom and teacher changed before school resumes. Why? Not only does her teacher resent the presence of special ed kids in her class, but xmas (and the TX way of going overboard with it) brought out her teacher’s antisemitic attitudes. The week before school got out I was approached by my daughter’s special ed caseworker who told me that the teacher’s dislike of my child (and her religion/culture) is ‘so intense, and so hostile” that my child “risks harm” in that classroom. For a teacher to go against another teacher like that…what has happened to my child that she is unable to relay due to pragmatic speech difficulties? More importantly, why is a US public school willing to put a student through the trauma of changing teachers and classrooms midyear in order to condescend to a teacher’s hate, and sweep the whole instance under the rug? When are we going to deal with that sort of persistant antisemitism, Rabbi? Who is going to protect our own children??

  • Secular1

    EKM, as I said anti-semitism is just one variation of what is permenantly etched into the organizing specifications of the three mono-theistic religions. It is mothers milk for some of teh more literalist adherents of these three religions, hence the antixxxxisms.