Anatomy of the Old/New Antisemitism

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Benjamin Kerstein

Benjamin Kerstein

That we are facing a wave of antisemitism unlike any seen since the end of World War II is indisputable.

Driven by radical Muslims and the progressive left, this Axis of Antisemitism has staged mob events in numerous cities calling for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of world Jewry, expressed open support for Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, targeted Jews and Jewish institutions for violence and vandalism, transformed higher education into an apartheid nightmare for Jewish students, and in at least one case committed murder.


The precise nature of this new antisemitism, however, has remained somewhat unclear. That is, we do not know precisely what kind of antisemitism it is. Upon examination, it appears to be a sort of old/new antisemitism. Its foundation is as old as the Elders of Zion, but the details are very much of the current moment.

The Axis’ foundational belief is a classic one: The Jews are a corrupt and evil plutocracy. That is, the Axis considers the Jews an immensely powerful force that controls all aspects of life — especially the media, the economy and the political establishment. Because Judaism is supremacist and avaricious, it is claimed, the Jews use their sinister power to enrich themselves while abusing and exploiting non-Jews.

This ancient libel has been updated for an age of woke totalitarianism, intersectionality and social media. The Axis today casts the Jews as the ultimate manifestation and beneficiaries of white privilege. It holds that the Jews’ victims are above all Muslims, but also people of color, the LGBT community and everyone else on the ever-expanding intersectional spectrum. Thus, the Axis asserts, Jews and their “privilege” must be smashed for these communities to be free.

As proof, the Axis offers a plethora of “evidence”: It claims that the Jews use their dark power to maintain the “racist,” “apartheid,” “Nazi,” “settler-colonialist” state of Israel through an “unholy alliance” with racist right-wing forces like Donald Trump, the Republican Party and evangelical Christians. Thus, the Axis asserts, the Jews aid and abet the continued oppression of intersectional victims and the maintenance of a white/male/heterosexual/cisgender tyranny.

Under this antisemitic rubric, the Jews are cast as the enemy of progress itself. As the PLO charter states, “Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world.” The Axis’ belief in this catechism is absolute.

The Axis further holds that the Jews’ essential evil is expressed in their behavior, which includes the wanton slaughter of innocent people for no reason but the Jews’ sadistic pleasure; the robbery of an indigenous people’s land, over which the Jews rule with despotic violence; and the systemic violation of the rights of those who dare to speak truth to Jewish power, especially free speech and academic freedom.

Equally reprehensible, the Axis claims, are the Jews’ hypocritical claims of persecution, which they make both for financial gain and to justify their persecution of others. In particular, the Axis asserts that the Jews shamelessly exploit the memory of the Holocaust, which, if it happened at all — and it probably didn’t — was nothing compared to what has been done to other people and certainly nothing compared to what the Jews have done to the Palestinians.

Like its predecessors, the Axis sees itself as engaged in a war to the death with the Jews. As a result, its final goal is a familiar one — genocide. Haman may wear different masks, but he has the same face.

Ironically, as in the past, this ideology is the perfect mirror image of the antisemites themselves. Contrary to its claims, it is the Axis that exercises enormous power over many of the West’s pivotal institutions, such as the media, the activism industry and higher education. It has its own racial hierarchy, which is nothing but white supremacism turned on its head. It is remarkably adept at leveraging its power to make enormous amounts of money. It has no compunctions about engaging in the most hideous atrocities. It often exaggerates and sometimes invents its own suffering and oppression. It pursues the physical annihilation of the targets of its irrational hatred.

Certainly, this kind of hatred has immense motive power. Indeed, given recent events, it is easy to conclude that the Axis cannot be countered, only contained. But this would be a grave mistake. The Axis can not only be contained, it can be crushed.

This is because the old/new antisemitism is an expression of intersectional ideology. The truth, often unspoken, is that most people hate this ideology. They hate it because the ideologues generally act like insufferable petty tyrants. Any hint of dissent from their beliefs, even at their most insane, is punished with public shaming, cancellation, deprivation of livelihood and Maoist reeducation. Most people, I believe, long to be liberated from this unelected and unworthy regime. The petty tyrants may hate the Jews and the West, but the Jews and the West hate them right back.

The imperative of the moment, then, is to harness that hate and unleash the revolt. When the petty tyrants and their regime are smashed, the Axis of Antisemitism of which they are an inseparable part will be smashed as well.

Benjamin Kerstein is a writer and editor living in Tel Aviv

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