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Whatever Happened to Antisemitism?

Whatever Happened to Antisemitism?

Redefinition and the Myth of the 'Collective Jew'

by Antony Lerman

A clear-sighted exploration of how antisemitism has been politicised, and the damaging consequences of its redefinition

'This elegantly written, erudite book is essential reading for all of us, whatever our identifications' - Lynne Segal

Antisemitism is one of the most controversial topics of our time. The public, academics, journalists, activists and Jewish people themselves are divided over its meaning. Antony Lerman shows that this is a result of a 30-year process of redefinition of the phenomenon, casting Israel, problematically defined as the ‘persecuted collective Jew’, as one of its main targets.

This political project has taken the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’ and codified it in the flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition’ of antisemitism. This text is the glue holding together an international network comprising the Israeli government, pro-Israel advocacy groups, Zionist organisations, Jewish communal defence bodies and sympathetic governments fighting a war against those who would criticise Israel.

The consequences of this redefinition have been alarming, supressing free speech on Palestine/Israel, legitimising Islamophobic right-wing forces, and politicising principled opposition to antisemitism.

Antony Lerman is Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna and Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at Southampton University. He is the author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist: A Personal and Political Journey (Pluto, 2012) and editor of Do I Belong? (Pluto, 2017).

'Nobody unpacks the confusions currently circulating around antisemitism, nor the complexities of Jewish identity, better than Antony Lerman. This elegantly written, erudite book is essential reading for all of us, whatever our identifications'

- Lynne Segal, author of 'Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy'

'An urgently needed book. The contemporary debate about antisemitism is both incoherent and appalling. Faced with this hot mess, Antony Lerman offers a cool, well-reasoned, deeply learned and morally courageous meditation on what antisemitism is and isn't'

- Peter Beinart, editor-at-large at 'Jewish Currents'

'We desperately need this book [...] An essential tool to understand the weaponisation of antisemitism and its dangerous impact on free speech, Palestinian rights, and the very real threat of actual antisemitism'

- Rebecca Vilkomerson, former Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace

'This important, essential book by a leading expert on antisemitism offers a nuanced history of the use and abuse of the fight against the world's oldest hatred. It powerfully unmasks the successful effort to twist the battle against antisemitism into a defense of the indefensible: Israel's subjugation of millions of people on the basis of their national and ethnic identity'

- Nathan Thrall, author of 'The Only Language They Understand'

'The best book I have read on why anti-Zionism has been equated with antisemitism and how the 'new antisemitism' has been mobilised for political gain'

- Neve Gordon, co-author of 'The Human Right to Dominate'

Acronyms and abbreviations
1. Varieties of Confusion in Understandings of Antisemitism
2. The Use and Abuse of Antisemitic Stereotypes and Tropes
3. Motivated by Antisemitism? Challenges to Zionism 1975–1989
4. ‘New Antisemitism’: Competing Narratives and the Consequences of Politicisation
5. The Development of Institutions Combatting Antisemitism 1970s–2000
6. The Turning Point: ‘New Antisemitism’ and the New Millennium
7. The Codification of ‘New Antisemitism’: The EUMC ‘Working Definition’
8. Responding to ‘New Antisemitism’: a Transnational Field of Racial Governance
9. The Redefinition Project and the Myth of the ‘Collective Jew’ Exposed
10. Human Rights: The ‘Mask Under Which the Teaching of Antisemitic Contempt for Israel is Carried Out’
11. Geopolitics, Israel and the Authentication of ‘New Antisemitism’
12. ‘War’ Discourse and its Limitations
13. ‘Jewish Power’, Medical Analogies and ‘Eradication’ Discourse
14. Apocalypticism: Defining the Discourse, Writing the Headlines and Generating Moral Panics
15. Against Typological Thinking: Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

Published by Pluto Press in Jun 2022
Paperback ISBN: 9780745338774
eBook ISBN: 9781786806307

156mm x 234mm