The Hate That Doesn’t Know Its Own Name

Nov 20, 2023 | Voices

When the historian Deborah Lipstadt defeated a libel suit brought against her in a British court by the Holocaust denier David Irving in April 2000, it was almost possible to imagine that antisemitism might someday become a thing of the past, at least in much of the West.

[ The New York Times op-ed by Bret Stephens continues]

Today, Lipstadt is the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, and her battle against Irving (the subject of the 2016 film “Denial”) seems almost quaint. “I never imagined antisemitism would get this bad,” she told me when I spoke with her by phone on Monday evening. “Something about this is different from anything I have ever personally seen.”

[ The New York Times op-ed by Bret Stephens continues]

Lipstadt made short work of those claims. If Israel ought to be abolished because it is guilty of displacing native inhabitants, then the same should go for the United States or Australia, among many other countries. If Israel is racist, then how is it that more than half of Israeli Jews have non-Ashkenazi roots, because their ancestors came from places like Iran, Yemen and Ethiopia? If Israel is an apartheid state, why are Israeli Arabs in the Knesset, on the Supreme Court, attending Israeli universities, staffing Israeli hospitals?

Then there is the double standard that’s so often applied to Jews. On college campuses, she noted, “when other groups say, ‘We are a victim,’ the default position is to believe them. When Jews say it, the default position is to question, to challenge, to say, ‘You caused it’ or ‘You don’t have a right to that’ or ‘What you say happened to you is not really an example of bigotry.’”

Why is so much of today’s antisemitism coming from well-educated people, the sort who would never be caught dead uttering other racist remarks? Lipstadt recalled that of the four Einsatzgruppen — the German death squads entrusted with the mass murder of Jews in World War II — three were led by officers with doctoral degrees. “You can be a Ph.D. and an S.O.B. at the same time,” she said.

[Read the entire Op-ed Bret Stephens at the New York Times.]