Antisemitsm-Betrayal of History; Betrayal of Truth

Antisemitism of today and yesterday mocks standards of academic integrity-of integrity itself
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No people has been maligned more than have the Jews-no people. It’s not even close. It has been widespread-encompassing locations with little or no Jews-and millennia-long-going back at least to Tacitus. Most of major social institutions, including governments and all their apparatus, the church and mosque, the press, and academia have developed, supported, and disseminated the deliberate campaign of lies that comprise this effort. It has led to sanctioned anti-Jewish terrorism, with the deadliest of consequences.

Most westerners once mistakenly believed that the worst of those consequences were a thing of the past. The horrors of the Shaoh so shocked the civilized world that it was thought its roots in socialized philosophies of hate had indeed been perpetually discredited. While it is hyperbole to allege that the world faces another Shoah, we are seeing its antecedents in the subordination of truth and propagation of historical falsehoods today. As in the past, political goals are used to justify or excuse them, although their roots rest in simple Jew-hatred. No longer confined to fringe publications or the political margin, the phenomenon again finds a friendly environment in respected academic and other institutions. History has shown us the deadly consequences of academic complicity in hate. Exposing it for what it is turns out to be far more than a mere academic exercise.

All victims of bigotry have had to face their tormentors’ efforts to twist and pollute the truth, but historical falsification and myth making is integral and indispensable to antisemitism, in a way not shared with any other pernicious philosophy of hate. Moreover, for most groups, the parade of bigoted untruths largely has been relegated to the ashbin of history; but such is not the case for Jews. Antisemitism-which former New York Mayor, Rudy Guiliani recently called the “the Western world’s oldest and most persistent species of hatred”-is not only alive and well but currently experiencing a frightful resurgence.

The deicide charge-that the Jews killed Jesus and that all Jews bear responsibility for that act­is undoubtedly the “mother of all historical falsification.” While evidence cited includes portions of the Christian bible, the charge was developed and canonized at various church councils and reinforced by high churchmen-even saints, such as Augustine:

The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus. And John Chrysostom: The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ, and for killing God, there is no possible expiation, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance, and the Jews must live in servitude forever.

In these two statements, the path from falsehood to action is explicit. Generations of European Christians imbibed this propaganda from pulpits and early schooling through the universities. Even today, the Catholic Church found it necessary to refute the belief in a guide to Catholic schoolteachers. Of late, the hoary charge has been revived prominently. In May 2001, western-educated Syrian President Bashir Assad repeated it in a public address before Pope John Paul II. If it was a trial balloon, it confirmed long held beliefs that anti-Jewish slanders would go unchallenged. For the Pope-at times a most courageous individual-never refuted Assad’s unchallenged statement. The charge is again being renewed through “The Passion,” a high profile film by actor Mel Gibson, based on the diaries of antisemitic nuns who believed in and promoted the slander.

The deicide falsehood has been the most destructive-and deadly-but only one of many. From histories that charged Jews with poisoning wells, starting major conflagrations, and spreading the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages, such falsehoods often bore the imprimatur of many who passed for the day’s academic authorities. Similarly, the blood libel, which alleges that Jews replicate the murder of Jesus by killing Christians and drinking their blood, has often had the stamp of approval from various authorities. The use of academia and other institutions to create a complex of anti-Jewish historical falsehoods, no doubt reached its height in Nazi Germany. Even after Nazism’s defeat, many academics, Martin Heidegger being the most prominent among them, refused to renounce their public support for this effort.

While garden variety Jew-hatred continues to prompt historical falsification, today it is most often covered with political pretensions; specifically, anti-Israeli or pro-Arab politics. Certainly, the most virulent and retrograde aspects of falsification are found in Arab countries. Harvard Divinity School is being forced to confront the issue in the debate over a $2.5 million gift from the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up-the Arabs’ most prominent “think tank.” In reality, Zayed is a center for Holocaust-denial and conspiratorial theories all meant to demonize the Jewish people and promote Israel’s de-legitimization. One of its prominent historical falsehoods (“Zionist Collusion with the Nazis”) alleges that the Shoah was the product of Zionist-Nazi collaboration to manipulate the world into creating a Jewish state in the Middle East. Neither the center nor other Arab authorities (academic or otherwise) deny the existence of such courses, let alone decried them.

Were the Zayed Center unique in this, we might dismiss it as a radical phenomenon; but it is far from alone. Just this year, for instance, Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma of King Faysal University published an article alleging that Jews use non-Jewish blood to prepare hamantashen, traditional Purim pastries. Noting with no basis “that the Jews’ spilling human blood to prepare pastry for their holidays is a well-established fact, historically and legally,” Al-Jalahma was praised for it by the Zayed center and other academic institutions. Syrian Foreign Minister Mustafa Tlas penned a fanciful retelling of the 1840 Damascus Blood Libel, in which the Jews did, indeed, murder a priest and use his blood to make matzot. The book is now in its eight printing and further alleges historical truth to this Jewish practice. As far­fetched as such theories are, they command a majority following in the Arab world.

Unfortunately, neither are these slanders unknown in western universities. For instance, for his efforts, Tlas was to receive a doctorate from the Sorbonne, one of the most prestigious universities in the western world. And he would have were it not exposed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Universities on several continents (particularly in Australia and New Zealand) have awarded doctorates for Holocaust denying dissertations, and numerous professors consider it a legitimate topic for discussion, although the Shoah is perhaps the most well documented atrocity in history. Other conspiratorial theories about the Jews abound, even in democratic Europe, where anti-Israeli sentiment is often indistinguishable from anti-Semitism. Commenting on an academic boycott of Israel for instance, one British professor claims that “when the bulk of the American population finds it has been duped by a real Zionist conspiracy…all the traditional and supposedly long discredited Jewish conspiracy theories will gain new lease on life.”

In the United States, where Holocaust-denial and blood libels remain discredited, false histories about the Middle East spring out of the same anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Campus Watch and other organizations have found course syllabi at various universities with clear political bias and even warnings that pro-Israeli students are not welcome. Various universities have sponsored seminars, films, and lectures, which distort the history of the State of Israel. Classes contain such historical distortions as: Jews have no historical right to any middle eastern land; there was a large indigenous Arab population in the territory encompassing Israel for centuries; that population was driven out by the Israelis in 1948; in 2000; the Israeli proffered Palestinian state was nothing more than a bunch of “Bantustans,” referring to the former South African government’s black homelands; and much more. Many professors still teach of an Israeli massacre in Jenin in 2002, despite the fact that original claims of a massacre have been proven false. But true or not, they promote the professors’ political agenda. Edward Said has maintained an honored place at Columbia University though he has taught that the Jews are not a people because Moses was an Egyptian, and that Jewish identity is based solely on persecution. In fact, the academic body that should be enforcing standards in this area, MESA (Middle Eastern Studies Association), has been culpable on this same score.

Many more historical falsifications, often revolving around alleged Jewish conspiracies behind various national tragedies such as Germany’s defeat in World War I, or general world domination have been integral to antisemitism. Complete fabrications, such as the notorious The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, have been and still are discussed as legitimate history.


During the last century, the Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin, supported a baseless theory that it was possible to inherit acquire traits. Although this is a scientific impossibility, the theory fit Stalin’s political agenda of “the new Soviet man.” Soon, academics all over the Soviet Union were touting Lysenkoism (for its inventor Trofim Denisovich Lysenko) as scientific fact.

Supporters of today’s Anti-Jewish Lysenkoism aim to demonize the Jewish people and de­legitimize Israel among the nations of the world, and the denial of historical Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. Their commonality with Stalin and others like him is their willingness to subordinate truth in favor of political ends. The initial charge of deicide was made part of official church ideology in part to combat the various “heresies” that threatened Christianity in its earliest centuries. The Nazis’ scientific racism justified the Jews’ elimination from society and their eventual murder. It is not hyperbole to say that these elements became the constituent components in a weltanschaung that led to Auschwitz

Too often throughout history, academia and other authoritative arbiters of truth have been complicit in anti-Jewish atrocities. Some academics have supported them enthusiastically. In other cases, the actions were the inevitable outcome of the authorities’ acceptance of the Jewish people’s demonization. While academics have long believed that despite disagreements, they all subscribe to a common set of standards within which research and discourse will proceed. Throughout history and even today, however, academic authorities with evil intent, political agendas, or both have been willing to hold such standards in abeyance with regard to one subject: the Jews. The extent to which such dishonesty is given a veneer of legitimacy ultimately will provide us with a good measure for predicting its consequences.


[1] Anti-Jewish Terrorists: Whether Crusaders, pogromists, Nazis, or their supporters in various social institutions, all of them meet accepted criteria for terrorists in their wanton destruction of innocent lives merely because they were Jewish lives.

[2] The term “holocaust” has been trivialized by overuse, specifically, by its deliberate application for political capital (e.g., Arab living conditions, abortion, and so forth). Thus, Shoah more accurately expressed the unique program of genocide perpetrated on the Jewish people during World War II.

[3] The terms Old and New Testament inaccurately portray the essential differences between those two works. Much more descriptive are the terms Hebrew Bible (as opposed to Old Testament) and Christian Bible (as opposed to New Testament).

[4] Augustine, Treatise on the Psalms, 415 C.E.

[5] John Chrysostom, Orations against the Jews, 379 C.E.

[6] Daniel C. Napolitano, “The Holocaust: A Teaching Guide for Catholic Schools,” 1992.

[7] Quoted by Edward Alexander, Marc Lange and Nikolai Popov, “Anti-Jewish, Anti-American Speaks at University of Washington,”, May 13, 2003.

Antisemitsm-Betrayal of History; Betrayal of Truth

Antisemitism of today and yesterday mocks standards of academic integrity-of integrity itself
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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.

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