● Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives
By Alvin H. Rosenfeld
Indiana University Press, 576 pages, $35
It is unbelievable that in 2013 we are still talking about the foul topic of anti-Semitism. “The dislike of the unlike,” in historian Salo Baron’s pithy locution. Whatever the catch phrase, there are few phenomena in history that have a record of 2,000 years.
We seem to be again in a season of academic studies of anti-Semitism, not the surveys and polls that marked the 1980s and ’90s, but with “institutes” on anti-Semitism popping up all over the place, devoted to figuring out what’s going on — again. One of these projects is Indiana University’s Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, run by the eminent scholar Alvin H. Rosenfeld.
In “Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives,” Rosenfeld, who has written on Jewish writers and on Holocaust literature, has collected essays that make a case for pondering the ways in which anti-Semitism is manifested today, and for addressing new versions of the ancient hatred.
The conceit of “Resurgent Antisemitism” — and both the strength and weakness of the book — is a series of nation-specific essays. Rosenfeld’s authors respond to this question: How does the history of a country affect and implicate the way in which the anti-Semitism of that country is contoured and developed?
No fewer than 18 chapters develop the past and present of Britain and Norway, and give a historical analysis of Spain, Central and Eastern Europe, and Poland. Especially insightful is the analysis of the Catholic Church, which is a central reality in Poland. Discussions of Turkey, Iran and, of course, Israel are valuable, as well. Chapters on discrete topics such as anti-Zionism, literature and European Islam flesh out this very rich book.
For the reader who is looking for facts, “Resurgent Antisemitism” will not disappoint; the book promises “global perspectives,” and the globe is delivered. Scholars will not be disappointed, either; the authors present valuable archival material. And for the most part, the analysis ain’t bad.