Thursday, October 30, 2008

The evolving face of antisemitism

When the Christians were anti-Semitic, they did not just say, We hate Jews. They said, We hate Jews because, unfortunately, they committed the great crime, which was to kill Christ. When Voltaire was anti-Semitic, he did not say, I hate Jews because there is something in their essence which deserves hate; he said, I hate them because they invented Christ.

And this is the sort of tricky way of assembling a big number of people around the speech of hatred. Barring that, you would have very few anti-Semites. So today, all the old processes of legitimacy are dying, are more or less dead. Not so many Christians really think that I killed Christ. Not so many followers of Voltaire really think I am guilty of having invented Christianity. Fewer and fewer believe in the racist identity of the Jews, of which people like me would be the bearers.

But we are facing the installment of a new scheme, with new arguments, new reasons, new logic, trying to make anti-Semitism again acceptable, relatively, according to the general mood of the times.
-- "I’m a Liberal, But...An interview with Bernard-Henri Lévy", Guernica, October 2008

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