Anne Bayefsky Addresses U.N. Anti-Semitism

“On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”  Zachariah 12:3

[Paraphrase of human rights scholar and activist]:  

The UN, which was “founded on the ashes of the Jewish people” to stand in the doorway and say ‘never again!’, has itself become the leading purveyor of anti-semitism.

Today UN anti-semitism has taken yet one more treacherous turn.  The UN has launched a legal pogrom against the Jewish state.


A new form of anti-Semitism has developed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, emanating simultaneously from the far-left, radical Islam, and the far-right, and tending to manifest itself as ‘opposition to Zionism’ and the State of Israel.

The concept generally posits that much of what purports to be criticism of Israel by various individuals and world bodies, is, in fact, tantamount to demonization, and that, together with an alleged international resurgence of attacks on Jews and Jewish symbols, and an increased acceptance of anti-Semitic beliefs in public discourse, such demonization represents an evolution in the appearance of anti-Semitic beliefs.

Historian Bernard Lewis argues that the new anti-Semitism represents the third, or ideological, wave of anti-Semitism; the first two waves being religious and racial anti-Semitism. 

Lewis defines anti-Semitism as a special case of prejudice, hatred, or persecution directed against people who are in some way different from the rest, that is marked by two distinct features:

  1. Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others
  2. and they are accused of cosmic evil

He writes that the FIRST WAVE of anti-Semitism arose with the advent of Christianity because of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as Messiah.

The SECOND WAVE, racial anti-Semitism, emerged in Spain when large numbers of Jews were forcibly converted, and doubts about the sincerity of the converts led to ideas about the importance of “la limpieza de sangre”, purity of blood.

He associates the THIRD WAVE with the Arabs, and writes that it arose only in part because of the establishment of the State of Israel.

  • Until the 19th century, Muslims had regarded Jews with what Lewis calls “amused, tolerant superiority” — they were seen as physically weak, cowardly, and unmilitary — and although Jews living in Muslim countries were not treated as equals, they were shown a certain amount of respect.
  • The Western form of anti-Semitism — what Lewis calls “the cosmic, satanic version of Jew hatred” — arrived in the Middle East in several stages, beginning with Christian missionaries in the 19th century, and continued to grow slowly into the 20th century, up to the establishment of the Third Reich.
  • He writes that it increased because of the humiliation of the Israeli military victories of 1948 and 1967.


Lewis argues that the international public response and the United Nations’ handling of the 1948 refugee situation convinced the Arab world that discrimination against Jews was acceptable.

  • When the ancient Jewish community in East Jerusalem was evicted and its monuments desecrated or destroyed, they were offered no help.
  • Similarly, when Jewish refugees fled or were driven out of Arab countries, no help was offered, but elaborate arrangements were made for Arabs who fled or were driven out of the area that became Israel.
  • All the Arab governments involved in the conflict announced that they would not admit Israelis of any religion into their territories, and that they would not give visas to Jews, no matter which country they were citizens of.
  • Lewis argues that the failure of the United Nations to protest sent a clear message to the Arab world.

Lewis writes that this third wave of anti-Semitism has in common with the first wave that Jews are able to be part of it.

With religious anti-Semitism, Jews were able to distance themselves from Judaism, and Lewis writes that some even reached high rank within the church and the Inquisition.

With racial anti-Semitism, this was not possible, but with the new, ideological, anti-Semitism, Jews are once again able to join the critics.

The new anti-Semitism also allows non-Jews, he argues, to criticize or attack Jews without feeling overshadowed by the crimes of the Nazis.

A number of commentators argue that the UN has condoned anti-Semitism.  Lawrence Summers, then-president of Harvard University, wrote that the UN’s World Conference on Racism failed to condemn human rights abuses in China, Rwanda, or anywhere in the Arab world, while raising Israel’s alleged ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

1960s: Origins:  French philosopher Pierre-André Taguieff has argued that the first wave of what he describes as “la nouvelle judéophobie” emerged in the Arab-Muslim world and the Soviet sphere following the 1967 Six-Day War.

1970s: Early debates:  Writing in the American Jewish Congress’ Congress Bi-Weekly in 1973, the Foreign Minister of Israel, Abba Eban, identified anti-Zionism as ‘the new anti-Semitism’, saying:  “Anti-Zionism is merely the new anti-Semitism.”

  • “The old classic anti-Semitism declared that equal rights belong to all individuals within the society, except the Jews.”
  • “The new anti-Semitism says that the right to establish and maintain an independent national sovereign state is the prerogative of all nations, so long as they happen not to be Jewish.”

1980s – Present Day: Political Convergence

  • Historian Robert Wistrich addressed the issue in a 1984 lecture delivered in the home of Israeli President Chaim Herzog, in which he argued that a “new anti-Semitic anti-Zionism” was emerging, distinguishing features of which were the equation of Zionism with Nazism and the belief that Zionists had actively collaborated with Nazis during World War II. 

Anti-Semitism, but Not a New Phenomenon

  • Yehuda Bauer, Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, argues that “new” anti-Semitism is not actually new.
  • He considers the concept to be false, since it is in fact old anti-Semitism that remains latent and recurs whenever it is triggered.  In his view, the current trigger is the Israeli situation, and if a compromise were achieved there, anti-Semitism would decline but not disappear.

Howard Jacobson, a British novelist and journalist, calls this phenomenon “Jew-hating pure and simple, the Jew-hating which many of us have always suspected was the only explanation for the disgust that contorts and disfigures faces when the mere word Israel crops up in conversation.”

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Hillary Clinton on the Palestinian/Israeli Gaza Conflict

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