The Norman Transcript

November 11, 2013

Author speaks at University of Oklahoma about antisemitism

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — International best-selling author Dr. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen spoke Monday at the University of Oklahoma about “The Globalization of Antisemitism.”

Goldhagen discussed how anti-Semitism is a growing problem across the world. It is also more powerful than ever since the Holocaust, especially in Middle Eastern and European countries.

Many anti-Semites believe Jews are powerful and that power is dangerous to the world. They are painted as people who willfully do harm and are said to have a plot to dominate and destroy the world, Goldhagen said.

Many of the countries he mentioned Monday were areas in which Jews are minorities, either representing 1 percent of the population or, often times, even less than 1 percent of the population. Yet, antisemitism is profoundly prevalent.

Statements by political Islamic leaders also are more openly anti-Semitic and worse than the Nazis ever put forward publicly, Goldhagen said.

One political leader speaking publicly at mosque in Damascus made it known that his intent was to destroy Israel when the audience he was speaking to began to chant the words, “Death to Israel, death to Israel, death to America,” Goldhagen said.

The political leader told the crowd, death to Israel was not enough. The leader said Jews must first be humiliated and degraded; Allah willing, they will first lose their eyesight and then lose their brains.

Another example was a passage Goldhagen read from a statement later published in 2002 in one of Spain and Europe’s leading newspapers from Jose Saramago, a Nobel Prize winner. The passage read as follows:

“Intoxicated mentally by the messianic dream of a Greater Israel which will finally achieve the expansionist dreams of the most radical Zionism; contaminated by the monstrous and rooted ‘certitude’ that in this catastrophic and absurd world there exists a people chosen by God and that, consequently, all the actions of an obsessive, psychological and pathologically exlusivist racism are justified ... the Jews endlessly scratch their own wound to keep it bleeding, to make it incurable, and they show it to the world as if it were a banner.”

The endless scratching of their wound is talking about how the Jews suffered the Holocaust. Goldhagen said if you took the same statement and replaced Jews with any other it race, the statement would not have been publicized.

Middle Eastern suicide bombers who video recorded testimonies prior to their acts talked about sending a message to the Jews that they are a nation that drinks blood and there is no better blood than that of the Jews, he said.

“These are just nuggets,” Goldhagen said, adding that those are just a few examples of how serious and widespread of a problem antisemitism is becoming.

Goldhagen said this is not social or cultural — it is fundamentally political.

The demonization of Jews is growing, as well. Goldhagen said political cartoons portray Jews as blood-thirsty and violent people.

Antisemitism is not caused by the Jewish people’s deeds, though, he said. If it were, Muslims would have far more prejudice against Christians, but as it stands, only 14 to 17 percent have unfavorable views of Christians, Goldhagen said.

However, he said, there are exceptions to Muslims and others in the Islamic nations. Not all Muslims are anti-Semitic, he said, just as all Europeans are not anti-Semitic.

Jewish people are fleeing Europe because they are being attacked, and the attacks are not often reported, he said.

Twenty percent of the European population still believes Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus, and some of those surveys were done in the most secularized countries in the world, Goldhagen said.

Also, 30 percent of Europeans believe Jews are responsible for the global financial crisis. It was a crisis in which plenty of information was provided that outlined why there was a crisis, which barely mentioned Jews, Goldhagen said.

Antisemitism prevalent in other countries is also absurd. For example, surveys taken in China, where there are only a few hundred Jewish people in the population, show that 55 percent of China’s population are anti-Semitic.

In Brazil, where there is only five 100ths of 1 percent of Jews, the overall population is 50 percent anti-Semitic.

Goldhagen said there were roughly 1.5 billion anti-Semitic people in those countries that were surveyed, including China, Brazil, Middle Eastern and European countries and other large countries. These are countries with profoundly demonizing beliefs, when Jewish people aren’t even in their countries, he said.

While America remains the exception to antisemitism, the Jewish-American population buries their heads in the sand because it is something that has not been penetrated by our public sphere, Goldhagen said. They deny what is out there because it is not around them.

“People simply aren’t aware of what is out there,” he said. “They have their heads in the sand and prefer not to face this.”

However, the United States still provides a model for other countries in keeping antisemitism out of the public sphere, he said, even if that is starting to erode. Getting it out of the public sphere is something everyone should work for, though.

“I’m not hopeful that antisemitism will be in remission anytime soon,” Goldhagen said, given the history of the prejudice.

The capacity, tenacity and longevity of antisemitism makes it singularly unique. No other prejudice has lasted this long and to this degree. Political leaders are asking for the elimination of Jewish people.

Israel, which is the political center of the Jewish people, also faces something no other country in the world faces: an International Elimination Coalition that is dedicated to the elimination of Israel.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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