According to the French linguist Georges-Elia Sarfati, the so called new antisemitism expresses itself in anti-Zionist figures of speech which increasingly pervade the criticism against Israel. These figures of speech utilize traditional anti-Jewish rhetoric which are strongly anchored in earlier ideologies. The figures of speech were developed into their present forms in the Soviet Union 30-50 years ago and attained their greatest success in the UN in 1975, when the “Zionism is racism”-declaration was passed with the votes of the Soviet Union and the Arab countries.
The declaration was not overruled until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The anti-Zionist ideology spread also to the Arab countries and the Palestinian territories. The far left of Europe applied already in the 1960’s a Marxist interpretation of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians: Israel represented the oppressive, imperialistic force and the Palestinians a third world people. But whereas other imperialistic states could be “rescued” by a communist revolution, the shortcomings of Israel were considered to be innate and unchangeable.
As a consequence, the state of Israel had to be abolished. All the demonizing images previously used to describe Jews and Judaism were now projected onto Israel and the Zionists. Through so called leftist intellectuals, this ideological legacy spread also into parts of the Social Democratic movement. However, the awareness of the historical roots of these ideas was lost on the way. That is why the 50-page report by Jean-Christophe Rufin (ordered by Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin) is so ‘ground breaking’, in that it actually connects the dots between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, the irrational hatred and unjustified criticism towards the Jewish state of Israel.
“Israel’s ambassador to France, Nissim Zwilli, hailed the report in an interview with Israeli public radio as “exceptional … because it establishes a direct link between anti-Semitism and the anti-Zionist and hostile positions towards Israel.”
The key sentences of anti-Zionist ideology, “Zionism/Israel is Nazism/racism/colonialism/imperialism” have been repeated and spread ad infinitum, not least in the Arab countries. In Europe the popularity of this new anti-Semitism is based on centuries of deep antisemitism within European culture and on guilt feelings caused by the Holocaust; after all, the key sentences do give a new, legitimate linguistic form to the forbidden and repressed “instinct” – antisemitism.
Typically, those who use these sentences deny their own antisemitism by referring to so called “alibi Jews”, i.e., Jews who “share their opinions” as Emanuele Ottolenghi depicts in his outstanding article ‘Europe’s Good Jews’. The anti-Zionist key words represent the gravest sins of Western history and therefore elicit strong emotional reactions. This is how the new antisemitism creates the prerequisites for the destruction of the Jewish state in the same way as the old form created the preparedness for the Holocaust: by distorting the images of the Jews/Israel. KGS