EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Antisemitism in Europe
DATE: 17 August, 3:00pm – 4:00 pm
SPEAKERS: Dr Charles Asher Small, Anita Haviv-Horiner
EVENT MODERATOR: Isabel Sawkins
Isabel Sawkins 01:40
Welcome to today’s event, Anti-Semitism in Europe. My name is Isabel Sawkins, and I am a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. And it is my honour to welcome you to today’s timely discussion. This conversation could not come at a more important moment, often linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, unentangled with anti-Zionist views, the European Jewish population is increasingly under attack in the contemporary climate, from vandalism of Jewish cemeteries in Ukraine, to attacks on Jews on the streets of London, from anti-Semitic caricatures at a parade in Belgium, to Polish anti-vaxxers blaming Jews for COVID. These threatening incidents continue to grow in European society. This panel today will focus on this concerning trend – hearing from two eminent speakers on the topic. First up, we have Dr Charles Asher Small, founder and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Global anti-Semitism and Policy, and a research scholar at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University. Dr Small is a prominent scholar and public speaker, specialising in the fields of contemporary anti-Semitism, including the delegitimization of Israel, and notions of Jewish peoplehood. We will then hear from Anita Haviv-Horiner, an educational consultant and author. She grew up in Vienna as the daughter of Holocaust survivors before immigrating to Israel in 1979. Since 1994, Haviv-Horiner has been a freelance consultant, developing educational programmes dealing with anti-Semitism, the intergenerational impact of the Holocaust, Jewish and Israeli identity, and Israeli-European relations. She is the author of an upcoming book, Nothing New in Europe? Israelis looks at anti-Semitism Today. So the structure of today’s event is as follows. Each of our speakers will speak for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. We will then have a brief discussion as a panel. Before coming on to questions from the audience. I invite all of our audience members here today to submit questions through the question and answer function on zoom throughout today’s discussion, Charles, I will pass over to you, the floor is yours for around 10 minutes.
Dr Charles Asher Small 04:18
Okay, thank you very much, Izzy. I’m really honoured to be here at the Henry Jackson Society to give a talk. So thank you for inviting me. The question, or the challenge is, where do we begin? It’s such a vast issue and the, the, the news of the last several days are deeply, deeply concerning, if not outright alarming, at what’s happening in Afghanistan and the region. And I think the implications for what’s going on in Afghanistan, will reverberate in terms of international relations, but I think also the issues of anti-Semitism, which are very much connected to issues of democratic principles, such as the basic notion of citizenship and every citizen being equal under one legal system. The re-emergence of the Taliban and the Taliban control of over Afghanistan is, is troubling. I think the fact that the West, NATO, the United Kingdom, and especially the United States, withdrew and withdrew in this fashion, leaving millions of women and children as basically, property, to the state, to the caliphate, unable to have equal rights, unable to go to school, and being property of the male members of their family is astounding. And I think the fact that these anti-democratic reactionary movements are gaining control, and the West is acquiesce to it is very much a concern to democratic principles, but also to the rise of anti-Semitism. I was gonna start the conversation by discussing the impact of the war that Israel had with Hamas in May, and sort of the shift that took place. And I think the fact that there were so many demonstrations on the streets of Europe and North America during the, the war with Hamas, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people protesting the outcry in the media of record and among the academic community, against Israel and against Zionism, I believe was a shift or a turning point in the, in the rise of anti-Semitism as part of the popular discourse. But I think it’s also vital to realise that the so called human rights community, and even members of the feminist movement who were so appalled at Israel’s actions during the war against Hamas, and the sort of the public outcry and the criticism that was received in the media, where are those people today? Where are these people today, when millions of women and children are being oppressed by the same or a similar ideology that is under the, the control in Gaza? Where’s the outcry? Where are the women’s voices? Where is the human rights community? Where, where is it? Why the silence? And I think the fact that there was such an outcry and a shift during the war with Hamas? I think it points to decades of miseducation in our finest universities, and the discourse shifting, and the why has the discourse shifted? And I think, I’ll just speak very briefly about three types of anti-Semitism. We’re concerned about the anti-Semitism on the right. We’re concerned about political Islam, and its anti-Semitism. And we’re also concerned about the so called left to the progressive forms of anti-Semitism in Europe and then also in North America. I think, as a scholar of anti-Semitism, I would like to say that anti-Semitism is unique in the sense that it’s inherently genocidal. And I’ll explain why. When the dominant perspective of, of the world was through the lens of religion, and I’m speaking about European forms of Christianity or Christianity’s, the Jew is the quintessential other, and for a long history in Christian European history, the quintessential other the Jew, was perceived as stubborn. And that they, the, the teachings of the gospel was that the Jew, the non-believer, somebody who couldn’t accept the teachings of their notion of the Messiah, was going to be blinded by evil and could not have redemption in this world. But what made anti-Semitism genocidal is this notion that the stubborn Jew was not only hindered from redemption as an individual, but they were hindering world redemption. And until the Jews were converted, there would be no redemption, no world, or global redemption. And this resulted in all sorts of history of anti-Semitism in the church, which I won’t go into, but when the dominant view shifted from religion, to notions of nation, and race, and ethnicity, and sort of biologically determined forms of identity, which was rooted in European philosophy and theology, and social sciences and policy, people were locked into racial categories. And the Jew was perceived, even though they lived in places in Europe for many, many centuries, they were perceived as another nation and another race, and that the Jew posed a threat to the purity of the white Aryan race, and the white Aryan nation, and unlike the Christian times when Jews could be converted, or even forcibly converted, there was no escaping the sort of racialised identity. So to save the race, and the white race, and the white nation, the Jew had to be eliminated and this resulted in, in a sense, I think in the Holocaust, and the elimination or the attempt to eliminate the Jew and protect the purity of the white Aryan and race. Today in most institutions, in liberal institutions and universities in the media of record, these forms of Christian or racist anti-Semitism is by and large, not tolerated. In fact, if somebody would articulate these types of anti-Semitisms, I think their social life, their careers could be in jeopardy and it would injure them, but to attack a Jew for who they are as a people and to attack Israel, to attack Zionism, is not only accepted, but I think journalists, academics, intellectuals, gain credence by attacking the notion of who Jews are as a people. So not only is this anti-Semitism tolerated, we’re living in a moment in time where it’s encouraged. I did a study with Ed Kaplan at Yale University where we interviewed 10,000 people in 10 European countries, and asked them a series of questions about classical forms of anti-Semitism and questions that we consider to be bashing Israel – Israel bashing questions. And what we discovered in our research was that levels of anti-Semitism were relatively lower than we thought it would be, but the correlation between classical forms of anti-Semitism and bashing Israel was very high. In fact, people who bash Israel are 13 times more likely to be anti-Semitic in the classical sense. So the, the correlation is extraordinarily high. I’m drinking out of a bottle of water. If this company Highland Springs water was producing water that was 13 times more likely to cause cancer than other brands, it would be removed from the shelf and there’d be a national inquiry. But this is what’s happening with people who bash Israel. So what is happening? we look at, I run at the Institute for the Study of Global anti-Semitism and Policy, we did a research project on looking at the Muslim Brotherhood influence in academia. And in fact, in our project, we found over $3 billion, with a b, of Qatari and Muslim Brotherhood funding going into American universities and not being declared as it’s required by American law. And to make a long story short, our research led to a summit in Washington in July of 2019, where we presented our findings, and this led to a federal investigation into illegal funding of American universities by foreign entities. We found $3 billion dollars and now that the federal investigation is in full swing, they’ve they’re up to $18 billion in undeclared foreign funding, going to top tier American universities. And in our research, we look at how Institutes are being created, chairs of departments are being supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and other nefarious sources. We also did a major report, which is on our website, isgap.org, where you can find a report on The Students, The Students for Justice in Palestine, how they’ve infiltrated in particularly in the American and Canadian context, hundreds of chapters, hundreds of universities, the students for justice in Palestine come out of the Muslim Student Association, which is directly a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. And we know that funding, that there is a correlation between universities that are receiving money for academic programmes from the Muslim Brotherhood and also funding for the Students for Justice in Palestine. So the scholars in the classroom are teaching, at the best universities to question or to demonise Israel, and on more and more campuses, the Students for Justice in Palestine, which has sort of created this red/green alliance, Palestinian and Middle Eastern students working with so called progressive students to create an atmosphere on campus, which is becoming untenable for Jewish students and faculty. And there’s, there’s a lot of physical intimidation, and the like. So why is this sort of red-green alliance happening in these progressive spaces? And I think this is a question that we need to see. And if universities are, started a Middle East Studies department 30, 40 years ago, where they were becoming very antagonistic to Jewish notions of peoplehood into Israel, and this ideology is a sense permeated the best universities in the Western world in Europe and North America. So why is this happening? I don’t have much more time. So I’ll be brief. But in 1976, Edward Said said, and this is informative, that he was the last remaining Jewish intellectual. Edward Said in 1976, a bizarre statement, that he’s the last remaining Jewish intellectual, that all the Jewish intellectuals are now in the suburbs of America, basically in a wasteland, the cultural wasteland and that the Zionists were the Nazis and the Palestinians were the Jews. Said was the last remaining Jewish intellectual, and he was the inheritor of the fine work of the Frankfurt School of thought, Jewish refugees from the Holocaust that went back to Frankfurt, Adorno, Horkheimer, and others who wrote about the Holocaust and wrote about Nazism and totalitarianism, and that he was the inheritor of their work. So speak about Holocaust revisionism, that he was the replacement. We know replacement theory goes way back into Christian thought, which he was a part of, and Holocaust denial, the Zionists were the Jews were now the Nazis, and the Palestinians were now the victims of Nazism. In 1976, there was a bizarre fringe statement to make. But today, it’s a mainstream part of our discourse. And this discourse has (inaudible) has effected, has become a part of this sort of postmodern moment in western liberal universities and in the media of record. So if Israel is a Nazi state, if Israel is an apartheid, fascist colonial state, as the red-green alliance, the intellectuals in the West have been articulating, then there’s no need for reform, there’s no need for objective journalism. For 30, 40 years, journalists at the best universities in the Western world, social scientists, leaders have been inculcated with this worldview. And if you noticed in the, in the May war with Hamas, there was this not only disdain for Israel, but I think, journalists doing away with objectivity because if Israel is an apartheid, racist state, not only from an Islamist perspective, but from a liberal perspective, it has to be dismantled. And very briefly, and I didn’t get into it, and maybe in the Q&A I will, but the connection between political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological roots, taking a very narrow understanding of Islam, and fusing it with European anti-Semitism, and even Nazism, and this is the roots of the Muslim Brotherhood and their ideology. And those of us concerned about human rights and democracy and citizenship and doing away with all forms of hatred really need to understand the ideology of the Brotherhood. So, if you read the famous charter, if any of the students who wrote the Hamas charter were in my class, I’d kicked them out for plagiarism, because they literally took the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and fused it, and it sort of forms the foundation of their constitution, not the radical wing of Hamas, or the political wing of Hamas, but the very foundation of its ideology. And as Elie Wiesel always taught, anti-Semitism begins with Jews, but it never ends with Jews. And it was words and ideas that started the Holocaust, not the train tracks, not the railroad tracks, not the crematoriums, or the bricks and the crematoriums, but the words and ideas. And the words and ideas that started justifying removing Jews from European society, and the final solution. Those words and ideas form the very foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of the foundation of political Islam, be it Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and, and the Taliban. And this is what we in the West have acquiesced to. And you can see the reaction to the war against Hamas. These are people that call for the extermination of Jewish people based on European anti-Semitism and even Nazism. And there was an outcry for Israel defending itself against this reactionary social movement. And as the West withdraws from Afghanistan, and allows moderates and minorities and women and children to be living under this tyranny, there is silence from the so called progressive intellectual circles. This is a major problem and I look forward to the Q&A. Thank you.
Isabelle Sawkins 19:12
Thank you very much for that very comprehensive introduction to the topic, Charles. And Anita, I will pass over to you, I guess, to bring more of the biographical element to our discussion today.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 19:25
Thank you so much. Thank you also for inviting me, and thank you, to Charles for having me as your partner.
Dr Charles Asher Small 19:33
My honour, thank you.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 19:36
In my inputs, I would like to focus on three issues which are crucial to my work as an educator and also as an author, first of all my own biographical connection to the topic, my personal thoughts in dealing with criticism of Israel, and my educational goals. So I will start with the first point, which is my biographical connection to anti-Semitism. I’m Israeli but I’m also very European I have been a diaspora Jew 18 years of my life and I’m still very much in touch with Europe, with Austria, with Germany. As Isabel said, I was born in Austria in 1960. A country which until the 80s has been in denial of its responsibility for the Holocaust, and even presented itself as Hitler’s first victims. And both my parents were survivors of the Holocaust, obviously very traumatised Jews. And I must say that the Shoah was a weird topic – the Holocaust in our family. But my father spoke a lot about anti-Semitism in Vienna at that time, and he thought, or he considered most Austrians of his generation to be Nazis and anti-Semites. And it was a very special situation to grew up among people whom, from you, might think that they put your father in a concentration camp. And as a child, I was confronted with anti-Semitic remarks, not brutal, I was not beaten up, but this kind of tropes, which are almost part of the European DNA, such as all Jews are rich, or Jews control the media, etc. And as a consequence of all, all of these together, I emigrated to Israel in 1979, and I have lived there ever since. I must admit that my integration in Israel was a thorny path, as probably any migration experiences. But in addition to that, when you live in Israel, you must take into account that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is your constant companion, it’s, it’s part of your life. And when I look at Israel today, it has created many new problems for me. But it has almost freed me from the constant confrontation with anti-Semitism on a personal level. And this is exactly. I think, what allows me to devote myself to the topic professionally. As Charles said, anti-Semitism is not the problem of the Jews but of the societies that allow it to happen. But I will never forget how dangerous anti-Semitism can become. And that’s why I keep dealing with it. And last but not least, and here also, I joined Charles, let’s not forget, anti-Semitism rarely appears on its own, hatred of minority groups usually does not limit itself to the Jews, it starts with Jews, but it does not end with them. Now, I would like to come to the second topic, which I would like to bring in today to share with you basically, it’s my thoughts about dealing with criticism of Israel. I define myself as a left wing liberal Israeli. And as such, I feel and express criticism of the reality in my country. I do think that we have much responsibility for the conflict with the Palestinians, that Israeli democracy is weak, weakened by racism, by the lack of division between state and religion, by the divide between poor and rich and many other issues. I have always expressed my views openly and we’ll continue to do so whether in Hebrew, in English, or in German. Therefore, I really tried to be open to criticism from Europeans and I also take it seriously. I think it is a mistake when Israeli politicians declare almost any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. We should not use this accusation too often, because it then loses its impact. But having said that, I really, and that’s really, it’s a dilemma. I refuse to give ammunition to Israel bashers, and to find this balance between openness to, to criticism, between trying to be sincere and at the same time, and it’s not either or, it’s, it’s both. It’s fight against Israel bashing, and this is a very thin line and the great challenge for me at least. The mere fact that many Europeans reduce the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the occupation without asking about the context or dealing with the narratives of both sides – something I’m not willing to accept. I personally have been confronted with questions such as, in German, how can Jews after the Holocaust inflict the same or similar suffering on the Palestinians? Um, I don’t have to explain how I feel about this question. Today, I see in Europe more subtle forms of deconstructing Israel as the national home for the Jewish people. And that’s basically delegitimising Israel’s existence. I don’t know about similar debates, about other countries, other countries which are also involved in conflicts which probably cost not less human life, if not many more. In Europe, the kind of discourse which reduces Israel to a colonial project, and this is also happening in Germany today. It is becoming more and more legitimate among the intellectual elite. And that worries me very much. Another example of a red line for me is when, when European or German friends tell me that I should not be worried about BDS. The boycott, they tell me it’s not about Israel, but about the occupied territories. Well, it’s not just have a look at their homepage, it is about Israel. And this is, I think, the essence of the debate between the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and the Jerusalem declaration. I am also very preoccupied with the trends in the post-colonial discourse, which emphasises the comparison between the Holocaust and colonialist crimes committed by Europeans. There’s nothing wrong with dealing with, with your colonialist crimes. I have no problems with comparisons per se. The question is, what is their intention? What is the context? Is it to analyse the differences and similarities between the Holocaust and colonial crimes? Or is it the goal? Or is the goal to deny the singular aspects of the Shoah? And in my last, in the last point, I would relate to, is some of my educational goals obviously, I can give you only a few glimpses. As an educator and behind this background, I told you that, I tried to describe, as an educator I tried to reach out to show ways, both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences how to tackle anti-Semitism. I’m aware of the fact that the world I operate in is very limited, a microcosm, but I actually did work with many teachers, tutor, journalists. And I think my ideas did have an impact, I hope it at least. Israeli pluralistic perspectives are at the centre of my projects because I want to make the audience’s focus on the self-perception of Jewish Israelis, instead of on the perceptions from the outside. Because, and there is not one Israeli Jewish self-perception, Israel is so pluralistic, so that is in itself something people need to understand. In a second step, it is my goal to encourage people to have a critical look at the way they form their own opinions, by asking – following themselves, by asking themselves the following question. To what extent are my interpretations of anti-Semitism influenced by my family history, my socialisation at school, at work or among friends? Is my information characterised by multiple points of view, by multiple prospectivity or not? Am I critical? Or am I hostile when I relate to Israel? And I do believe that if people can be brought to relate to these questions, they start a process of self-reflection. In this process, that’s the experience I made, triggers curiosity about others and the ability to empathise. And let’s be honest, we all tend to instinctively perceive a strange and unfamiliar as threatening, therefore I think and believe that the biographical approach is a helpful method. That is why a devote a lot of time to telling life stories, my own and those of others. I did this for many years in my workshop, and since 2012, in my books, I have published three interview projects in German so far, the last being Nothing New in Europe? question mark, and the question mark is very important to my work, Israelis look at anti-Semitism today. The book includes 15 biographical interviews with Jewish Israelis, reflecting on their appearance in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, France and Great Britain. This is a mosaic and not scientific research, buy you can see controversial perceptions and interpretations of anti-Semitism. And they also provide multiple perspectives on Jewish-Israeli family histories, everyday life in Israel – in Judaism, as well as, on Israel’s role in the context of anti-Semitism. And I do believe that thus they unlock topics unknown to many readers. They also touch on social issues which are relevant not only when you relate to anti-Semitism, but racism in general, topics such as collective identity, inclusion and exclusion. So I hope very much that English audiences will find it this book an educational tool. Thank you so much for your attention.
Isabel Sawkins 31:10
Thank you for that Anita. Anita, am I right in thinking that the book is coming out in November?
Anita Haviv-Horiner 31:13
Yes, at Berghahn.
Isabel Sawkins 31:14
With Berghahn books, yes. So I would strongly recommend it to all the listeners here today. I would like to remind the audience to continue submitting questions in the question and answer function. But I’m going to use this opportunity to ask a question to Charles and Anita. So of course, you both spoke about the fact that anti-Semitism is increasingly coming from more liberals circles – you both spoke about, educational contexts in which we are seeing this increase. And it’s often caught up, as we said, in criticism of Israel. And that’s sort of, that’s, I guess, the context in which this sits. Do you both think that this is where we’re seeing more of the anti-Semitism coming from in the current context, as opposed to far right organisations, with whom it’s sort of more conventionally associated? Do you think the left and more liberal groups are now becoming more threatening? Either of you?
Anita Haviv-Horiner 32:22
Isabel you decide.
Isabel Sawkins 32:23
Anita you go ahead.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 32:25
Okay. I don’t know, I am focusing more on the liberal circles, because I am more familiar with them. And I’m more close to them. And I kind of feel I belong to them. And, and, and I find it very disappointing and certainly when I suddenly feel that the people with, with whom I thought I share so many values, suddenly develop a kind of criticism of Israel, which I cannot, I cannot follow it anymore. So that’s why I mostly deal with it.
Isabel Sawkins 33:11
Yeah, dealing with it on the liberal side. Absolutely. Charles, what about you? I mean, are you focusing more on the liberal end of things to or do you also look at how anti-Semitism is fostered in far right groups as well.
Dr Charles Asher Small 33:25
So, so at ISGAP we look at anti-Semitism in general, I think the three largest, most important threats are from the radical left, the radical right, and political Islam. In my work, I look at how neoliberalism and sort of economic, social and cultural relations affect issues of anti-Semitism. I think what’s important to realise is that in the 1980s, with structural adjustment, and neoliberalism, there was this view that if the state would withdraw from the economy, and be less intrusive, did more, be more economic activities and development, and with more economic activity and development, there’d be more democratic, more democratic culture and practices. That was sort of the ideological belief. But we see in many parts of the world, particularly the, the Middle East and parts of East Africa and spreading to other parts of the world. We see states failing, we see the, the sort of the state withdrawing, and I’d say, political Islam perceive the state as a vestige of Western colonialism and imperialism, so they wanted to destroy the state. Neoliberals wanted to weaken the state, so this has created a vacuum where states and societies are collapsing, many swaths of, of populations are becoming disenfranchised and vulnerable. And we know from World War Two and the Holocaust when masses are vulnerable and disconnected from political, cultural and economic problems processes and institutions, they become vulnerable to kind of extremist reactionary movements. I think this is what we see happening around the world. So the centre is being attacked by political Islam, by the radical right, and the radical left. And I think it’s very important to deal with these issues of anti-Semitism, or reactionary movements that are attacking the democratic centre, as part of a phenomenon that we need to grapple with. And I think too often people on the left, defend the left but attack the right and vice versa. And we really need to look at the threat of the radical right, particularly in the United States, their, many of them are armed and dangerous and radicalising very quickly, a colleague of mine, Joel Finkelstein, is mapping this out. And it’s a serious threat. It’s a serious threat in parts of Europe as well. The attack by this marginalised young man and Plymouth a few days ago was perhaps related indirectly to some of these processes in the sort of ideologies of hate, sometimes gender, sometimes racist or anti-Semitic, which is gaining traction. And the, and the acquiescence of the left to political Islam is a phenomenon that is very disturbing. And Anita you speak about, you know, you come from the left, I also come from the left. And I’ll just say briefly, as a young student at McGill University in the 1980s and 90s, I became part of the anti-apartheid movement. And I remember I have a grandfather who also came from Vienna. And I remember learning that apartheid still existed. I went to a class by a famous political scientist, and he spoke about apartheid, South Africa. And I couldn’t believe in my lifetime, a similar ideology to Nazism was entrenched in a part of the world, empowered in a part of the world. So I became part of the anti- apartheid movement as a left wing liberal Jewish Canadian kid, because it was a social democratic movement. It was an umbrella movement that was fighting for a free democratic society with one legal system for all citizens, regardless of race, and gender and income. So that was something that I identify with. And how is it that these sort of progressive anti-apartheid movement fighting for democracy and democratic principles are acquiescing or even supporting, in many cases, my former comrades are supporting Hamas, literally the pink washing, you know, progressive, Western intellectuals. And it boggles the mind. Hamas is fighting for a caliphate. They’re fighting for the, they’re, they’re calling for the elimination of the Jewish people, the subjugation of women, the killing of gay people, and how progressive people can be in bed or remain silent to this movement boggles the mind. And I’ll just say very quickly, that we can’t. I think there’s a point where Israel has policies we can be critical of and we have agency, Israel’s agency, Jewish people have agency. But I would like to point to the work of Emmanuel Levinas. Emmanuel Levinas, is a very important philosopher that brought Jewish ethics to the Western University. And he argued that, and this is very important, that when we see our face in the face of the other, when we see our face in the face of the other, that’s the instant we become human. And we need the other to be human. So it’s not tolerance. It’s not some condescending notion of respecting the other, but we need the other to be human. He also says that when a reactionary movement, when there’s a political movement, that does not perceive the other as human, there is no, there is no possibility to negotiate or to compromise with it, you have to eliminate it. And any movement that objectifies, anybody, as part animal, or the cause for all the problems of the world, or from the emanating from apes and donkey urine, this cannot be tolerated. And anybody acquiescing to this movement is problematic at a ethical level and at a political level.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 39:09
I agree with you but I think the most subtle ways of trying to denigrate these or to bash Israel, which have also (inaudible) I don’t know how to say it in English, in German, you say (inaudible), it’s accept, it has become acceptable to say anything about Israel. And to be said, by intellectuals, and you have a whole debate about BDS in Germany, by, by the elite by the intellectual elite, who is fighting for BDS, right, to you know, to be subsidised by, by public funding. So, and this, because those are the people who define the intellectual discourse. That’s why I think why I tried to deal with that because I think It’s extremely problematic.
Dr Charles Asher Small 40:02
I agree. But we should contextualise the history of universities, the university in Germany was the only institution not the army, not the police, not the labour union. The university was the only one that voluntarily gave up its Jewish faculty and students. And the history of anti-Semitism in academia runs deep. So at some level, we shouldn’t be shocked that Foucaults, and the Saids or the, in the Judith Butlers and the others are pushing this, sort of, postmodern attack on who Jews are as a people. And we’re also living in a time where, if we contextualise anti-Semitism and the perception of the Jew in European culture, it goes deep. Poland is passing these laws, Germany intellectuals are demonising Israel, and they’re demonising Israel, while, while what? on the other side of the borders of Israel and the green line, is it a progressive place of creativity, and science, and inclusion? Iran is building a bomb as we speak and after they pull out of Afghanistan, they’re gloating, that they’re making progress with their nuclear weapons, and the German intellectuals are sitting and toasting to the demise of Israel. Jewish people the Jewish, sorry, the Jewish people need to.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 41:20
I don’t think that’s their intention. But I think that they are not even aware of the consequences of their debate.
Isabel Sawkins 41:29
Sorry to interrupt you both. I’m going to go to questions from the audience. But I think the three of us should continue this specific conversation at a later time. And I love the fact that this has brought you both together. And so the first question we have is from Julian Lazarus. Julian, would you mind unmuting yourself and asking the question out loud to our panellists.
Julian Lazarus 41:57
Isabel Sawkins 41:58
Yep, we can hear you, hey.
Julian Lazarus 42:01
Okay. I spend a lot of time looking at left wing social media. It’s left wing and like the two speakers I was also of the left. But it combines the most ignorant remarks about Israel and Jews and theories. You know, someone says, do you know who the Askenazis are, and conspiracy theories. These people are and are often elderly, left wing, they’re susceptible to a kind of academic and political anti-Zionism which is somehow filtered through and it’s, as if it’s hitting the places that it hit in regional places it reached in Germany in the 1930s. You know, they are so ready with Nazi, sort of theory, to build on everything that they hear negative about Israel, whether it’s true or false, occasionally it’s true. And often it’s false.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 43:11
Sometimes it is.
Julian Lazarus 43:13
Yeah, I don’t know how we can stop them being so susceptible to it, really?
Anita Haviv-Horiner 43:15
I think we should also differentiate and not say all the left wing journalists. So you know, I think we should be also exactly as careful as we expect others to be careful about us. We should also be trying not to generalise, I think that’s very important. We need people with whom we can still go into a dialogue. So I think we also should be careful in how we express ourselves.
Isabel Sawkins 43:45
Anita or Charles, do you have anything in response to Julian’s question about susceptibility?
Dr Charles Asher Small 43:51
Yeah, I think it’s an important issue in question, so thank you, Julian. I think also, an important part of this is to, when, I think Manuel Castells writes, the social theorists writes, that culture is a space that’s contested. And I think when people define the other, it’s a bit of chutzpah. Who are these people to define the Jew, when they have, when they know nothing about the Jew? Who are they to define the African or the Asian based on things that they know nothing about. So that’s one issue, which is maybe the colonial hangover, that some people think that they have the right to define the other, others who they know nothing about. But I think what’s also equally important that the Jewish people need to know who they are, and be proud of who they are and understand the wisdom and culture and the teachings of our ancestors, and not be swayed when some ignorant person maybe with a few letters or an institution next to their name starts to articulate and pontificate and define the Jew based on ignorance. We should know who we are and if we know who we are, that’s 95% of the battle.
Isabel Sawkins 45:00
Hi, Anita, do you have anything to add?
Anita Haviv-Horiner 45:03
No, I agree with the last sentence. Yeah. What I basically trying to do educationally.
Isabel Sawkins 45:10
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. Right. Next question is going to be from Michael Rubenstein. Michael, would you unmute yourself and ask your question out loud case.
Michael Rubenstein 45:23
Hello. We understand that anti-Semitism in Europe has increased in recent years, much most of it tied to Israel in one way or another. How does this compare with the increase in racism, bigotry, intolerance in Europe, generally, and whether there has been an increase, if there is a correlation, is it linked or incidental? Thank you.
Isabel Sawkins 45:50
Thank you, Michael. Either Anita or Charles?
Dr Charles Asher Small 45:54
Okay. So Michael, thank you for the question, yes, I think there’s a strong correlation. As I was saying earlier, I think the centre, the democratic centre is being attacked from all sorts of sides from kind of reactionary social movements. And as Elie Wiesel always thought it began with the Jews, but it doesn’t end with the Jews. And I think the Jew, the issue of anti-Semitism is sort of the canary in the coal mine. And as anti-Semitism increases, we see racism and bigotry, and sexism, and xenophobia, and, and sort of chauvinistic nationalism also increasing. So unfortunately, anti-Semitism is not an isolated phenomenon, but I think it’s an indicative of what’s happening in society in general, unfortunately, I think it’s a widespread problem in our time.
Isabel Sawkins 46:46
Anita would you agree?
Anita Haviv-Horiner 46:47
Yes. And I also asked this, the same question of the people I interviewed and I dealt with it myself, usually, usually, this is the case. I mean, it can happen that somebody hates only Jews. But mostly, if you hate one group, you also tend to hate another group. So yes, this has been scientifically proven also in Germany, there are a lot of researchers about this issue.
Isabel Sawkins 47:13
Anita Haviv-Horiner 47:14
We agree on everything.
Isabel Sawkins 47:15
We’ll see if we can something we can’t agree upon. Right, next we’re going to have Anna Mathilde. Anna Mathilde, would you mind unmuting yourself and asking your question out loud?
Anna Mathilde 47:33
Yeah, I hope you’re hearing me right now. Yeah, actually, my question was twofold in the sense that, on one hand, I wanted to ask how hard, was getting for you, for Jews, they were still living in Europe and the US, especially to get part of their national political life to get into one party, given that right wing generally court the vote of the far right anti-Semitic people. And on the other hand, the left is growing anti-Semitic, and is growing in this kind of Pro, Pro, Pro-Muslim or Arab immigrant vote than may actually getting into sort of discourse that may get into anti-Semitic, nearly automatic. And on the other hand, how hard was getting for the Israeli Jews to trust Europeans or Americans when it comes to anti- Semitism, given how anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is growing, is growing together both the European & American right and left.
Isabel Sawkins 48:45
Thank you for that Anna Mathilde. So it’s a question of where, where can Jewish people sit in politics when they are getting this anti-Semitism from both sides of the spectrum? Anita I’ll come to you first.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 48:58
I think it’s, I mean, I think it’s a problem, I relate mostly to Austria in Germany because of the countries I know best. There is one Jewish member of the Austrian parliament. He, he serves under Christian (inaudible) Chancellor, whose first government was, was the far right and he went into, into coalition talks, this Jewish Member of Parliament, with this far right group, so you know, it’s a, it’s a bit of a problem. Yeah and the Jewish community was really mad with him. So it is, I think it is very difficult for a Jewish person to go into politics but it should be possible. But to me in my mind, he should have said I am not, I will sit in the parliament, I will be a member of this parliament, of this party. I will not, I will not talk or make coalition talks with the so called Freedom Party. It’s just not on and he didn’t. And to me, this is a very problematic case.
Isabel Sawkins 50:14
Dr Charles Asher Small 50:15
Briefly, Anna thanks for the comment/question. I’ll just say very quickly, that it’s challenging. And I, I’m not answering your question directly, but I’m thinking of the British Jewish community that had, I don’t know, a stereotypical image before the rise of Corbyn as sort of being a quiet community not willing to make noise and stand up to anti-Semitism. But what happened with, with the Corbyn issue and Livingston and Galloway and the like, you have conservative Jews, liberal Jews, religious Jews, secular Jews, the British Jewish community – united, Rabbi Sachs comes to mind, you know, his memory is a blessing to us all, that the community really stood up strongly and were unified in denouncing anti- Semitism. And it wasn’t easy and it was politically risky. But I think the American Jewish community can can learn a lot from the British Jewish community. I think the fact that The Squad, Omar and Tlaib, Tlaib connected to Hamas, by the way, and this is you know, from, from some of our research, pushing anti-Semitic discourse and the, the leadership of the Democratic Party is acquiescing to these horrible, this horrible rhetoric. Charles Schumer has gone missing because he’s afraid that you know, his, his leadership in the Senate will be challenged by The Squad. So I think that community, the American Jewish community, needs to learn lessons from the British Jewish community quickly, urgently, because this germ, this virus of anti-Semitism is infiltrating the Democratic Party and the media. And the community gets, I think needs to get organised and fight back in a strong way. And the British Jewish community’s experience could be helpful.
Isabel Sawkins 52:00
Yeah, thank you for that. Charles. Right. The next question we have is from Jacqueline but it also somewhat aligns with something that an anonymous attendee asked. Jacqueline Gross, would you mind unmuting yourself and asking your question please?
Jacqueline Gross 52:21
What is to be done about the so called self-hating Jews and anti-Zionist Jews? They seem to be giving validity to Israel bashers.
Isabel Sawkins 52:37
Thank you for that, Jacqueline. Anita or Charles? Happy for either of you to take this.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 52:44
I don’t mind starting. I mean, this is a serious, I mean, I don’t want to define anybody who is anti-Zionist, any Jew who is anti-Zionist, as a self-hating Jew. I think it’s okay for a Jew that is not in tune with Israeli (inaudible) or is not in love with Israel, that’s fine with me. The problem is that, that usually, these Jews who are very vocal about their criticism of Israel, which goes even beyond criticism that also goes into Israel bashing, they are used willingly or not willingly as a kind of, how do you say it in English? as a justification, you know, he is Jewish, and he says it so why shouldn’t I say it? And, and it can become very problematic because it gives this kind of legitimacy to others, to deconstruct Israel, for instance. And I think we should argue, I’m prepared to argue with any, any Jew who doesn’t think Israel is necessary. I’m for dialogue. I always try to speak to people.
Dr Charles Asher Small 54:11
Yeah, I’ll just say briefly, I think the most pernicious result of hatred of any kind, be it racism, or sexism, or homophobia is when the victim internalises the hatred and it’s, it’s tragic in many ways. And I think the fact that some Jews are internalising anti-Semitism should not be shocking given the legacy of anti-Semitism in Europe and in other societies, and the pressures on people today at universities or in various institutions, against the Jewish people. So it is anti-Semitism. I think anti-Semitism can be articulated by anybody, including Jews, and we should fight anti-Semitism. And at the same time, I think we need to understand that this sort of growing phenomenon of people internalising hatred, in large part, not entirely, but in large part, I think is a, is a product of the times that we live in and it’s quite tragic.
Isabel Sawkins 55:11
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for that both. Right. We are coming towards the end of today’s session. But Anita and Charles, I wanted to give you the opportunity to give final comments of sorts. And if there’s any sort of one titbit of information that you would like our audience members to go away from this incredibly, incredibly thrilling conversation we have had here. Anita, I’ll come to you first.
Anita Haviv-Horiner 55:42
First of all, thank you. I think it was a very interesting discussion and a very interesting question. There was one which, to me which (inaudible) answer, because you didn’t read it out? But I think it’s a question I would like to relate to anyway. I think, people have to learn about Israel, I’m relating to Israel related anti-Semitism in the first place, I think you have to learn about Israel, I think you have to learn all the sides. You have to understand Israel in all its diversity. You have to know the historical context, and only then make a judgement. Also, as I said, before you judge Israel, or you deal with Israel, check with yourself, am I hostile? Or am I? Am I critical? Do I have all the necessary information? What is my goal?
Isabel Sawkins 56:42
Yeah, absolutely. Self-awareness is key. Yes, absolutely. Charles final comments from you.
Dr Charles Asher Small 56:51
I’ll take it from the other perspective, I think it’s very important to know who we are and to be proud and to know who we are as a people. At the same time, I don’t think we should be on the defensive and always defend Israel. I think it’s very important for our community, for the Jewish community, for the human rights community, for the policy community, to become fluent in the language of the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam, and its connection to the so called progressive, postmodern, intellectual movement in the West. And if we become familiar with the ideology, not only is it repugnant, not only is it filled with sexism and anti-Semitism and brutality and calls for violence and murder. It’s antithetical to democratic principles, whether the people on the call today are conservative, or right wing, or liberal, or left wing. We all, I’m sure on this call agree, that everybody should be under equal, citizens under one legal system, regardless of our backgrounds. And what is at stake is a reactionary social movement that is calling for the extermination of Jews and the destruction of democracy and equality. And I think we need to focus on that threat, become educated on it, become fluent in the language of political Islam, and left wing, the extreme left acquiescence to it, and fight back as community organisations, think tanks, our voices need to be heard.
Isabel Sawkins 58:20
Yeah, that’s a call to arms if ever there was one. Thank you very much, to both Charles and Anita, for sharing your thoughts today. Thank you to the audience members for coming along and asking questions and participating. Our next Henry Jackson Society event will be held next week. And we’ll be looking at the topic of Navalny, will be run by my colleague, Dr Jade McGlynn. And then my next event will be in mid-September with QC, Phillipe Sands. So please do go on our website to find out more information and sign up to those. Once again, thank you so much, everyone, for coming and participating in such a detailed and rich conversation. And we hope to see you at future HJS events. Thank you very much.