Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts - Volume 17, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5765/2005)
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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts

Volume 17, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5765/2005)


"Anti-Semitism Issues"


The Deep Roots of Anti-Semitism in European Society
Manfred Gerstenfeld

The resurgence of European anti-Semitism after the Holocaust suggests that it has deep roots in society. It has been fostered in a great variety of ways by so many, for such a long time, in all European countries that one might consider this form of hate and discrimination as inherent to European culture and a part of European "values." New European anti-Semitism often originates from a young age group, which indicates that it is an anti-Semitism of the future rather than of the past.

The European Union's attitude toward anti-Semitism is doublehanded. Through its discriminatory declarations and votes in international bodies the EU acts as an arsonist, fanning the flames of anti-Semitism in its anti-Israeli disguise. Simultaneously it also serves as fireman, trying to quench the flames of classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism. France is paradigmatic of this approach. Although European anti-Semitism cannot be eradicated, certain steps can be taken to mitigate it. This requires a major change in discriminatory EU policies toward Israel. In the meantime there are increasing indications that the European battle against anti-Semitism may be used, to the contrary, to facilitate attacks on Israel.


The NGOs, Demolition of Illegal Building in Jerusalem, and International Law
Justus Reid Weiner

Various nongovernmental organizations accuse Israel of abusing the Arab population of East Jerusalem by demolishing their illegally built (unlicensed) homes. NGOs claim to be acting as the world's conscience and proclaim the objectivity and accuracy of their reports. Using the idiom of international law, these NGOs have inflicted lasting damage on Israel's reputation. They accuse the Jerusalem municipality of having different standards for house demolitions as between Arab and Jewish neighborhoods. The general public, unable to decipher the legal jargon in the NGOs' criticisms, tends to assume that they are credible.

Does Israel breach the human rights of the Arab residents of East Jerusalem by demolishing their illegally built structures? At issue here are the laws and facts underpinning the NGOs' accusations; whether the NGOs make proper use of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other instruments of conventional and customary international law; and the extent to which these NGOs adhere to their proclaimed standards of accuracy, objectivity, and political independence.


Eastern Europe: Anti-Semitism in the Wake of Holocaust-Related Issues
Efraim Zuroff

Although the study of the Holocaust and its historical lessons has traditionally been regarded in the Western world as one of the most effective means of combating anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia, in post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe Holocaust-related issues have been a major cause of anti-Semitic incidents and growing animus toward Jews. In these societies, which are being forced for the first time to confront the complicity of their own nationals in the crimes of the Holocaust, practical issues such as the acknowledgment of the crimes, commemoration of the victims, prosecution of the perpetrators, and documentation of the events are proving to be a major source of tension and conflict between Jews and non-Jews. Examples from eight di.erent post- Soviet and post-Communist societies illustrate how this phenomenon has developed over the past fifteen years. There is a need for greater scrutiny and active steps to address this problem.


The International Commission of Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims: Excellent Concept but Inept Implementation
Sidney Zabludoff

The International Commission of Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) failed to meet its promises to Holocaust victims and their heirs to compensate in speedy fashion policies that remained unpaid for some sixty years. When the claims process has been completed only about 3 percent of the $15 billion value of unpaid life insurance Holocaust-era claims will have been paid, few unpaid nonlife policies will have been considered, and the process will take at least eight years instead of the two or so originally anticipated. As of November 2004, ICHEIC plans to complete its operations by mid-2006.

The chief reasons for this failure are inept governance and poor management. Governance became akin to secret diplomacy, in which ICHEIC's chairman and his immediate subordinates relied heavily on dealing only with those who favored their views while making promises to others that were never fulfilled or too long delayed. ICHEIC management mainly ignored the numerous studies pinpointing the serious problems with the claims process.

To make matters worse, insurance companies did not honor their initial pledges, and political pressure on ICHEIC to initiate reforms faded. Most Jewish and U.S. regulators participating in ICHEIC came to believe that there was no alternative to ICHEIC, having been worn down by the inflexible stance of ICHEIC’s leadership. Finally, the U.S. courts recently dismissed suits against insurance companies and ICHEIC.


National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World
Matthias Küntzel

Anti-Semitism based on the notion of a Jewish world conspiracy is not rooted in Islamic tradition but, rather, in European ideological models. The decisive transfer of this ideology to the Muslim world took place between 1937 and 1945 under the impact of Nazi propaganda. Important to this process were the Arabic-language service broadcast by the German shortwave transmitter in Zeesen between 1939 and 1945, and the role of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was the first to translate European anti-Semitism into an Islamic context. Although Islamism is an independent, anti-Semitic, antimodern mass movement, its main early promoters—the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Mufti and the Qassamites in Palestine—were supported financially and ideologically by agencies of the German National Socialist government.


The Passion by Mel Gibson: Enthusiastic Response in the Catholic World, Restrained Criticism by the Jews
Sergio I. Minerbi

Mel Gibson's film The Passion, first screened for the public on Ash Wednesday, 25 February 2004, aroused great interest among both Jews and Christians. The film's anti-Semitic content and violence were the major reasons for the wide attention it received.

On 3 October 2004, Pope John Paul II beatified Ann-Catherine Emmerich, whose visions were the basis for the movie, thus indirectly giving his blessing to the film. Several Vatican personalities have claimed that the film is not anti-Semitic.

Among Jewish organizations, the debate centered on whether one should criticize the film or avoid doing so, in order not to increase the interest in the movie. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was one of the few Jewish leaders who did raise his voice against the film.


Japanese-Israeli Relations, the United States, and Oil
Yaacov Cohen

The article surveys Japan's attitude toward the Jews and Zionism beginning with the positive phase in the 1920s and 1930s. It describes the subsequent negative effect of the oil factor on Japanese-Israeli relations, and the improvement in these since the fall of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, and the Madrid Conference. The key change for Japan was the decision by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Gulf States to abolish their indirect boycott of Israel in September 1991. The fact is underlined that Japanese-Israeli economic relations proved robust enough to withstand the political upheavals during both the first and second intifadas. The development of alternative energy sources to oil would foster further improvement of relations. Although political differences continue, future relations will be based on mutually beneficial economic interests centering on the growing importance of advanced technology.


Indonesia and Israel: A Relationship in Waiting
Greg Barton and Colin Rubenstein

Indonesia has faced much the same obstructions in developing its nascent relationship with Israel as have all the other Muslim-majority nations of Asia. While not inherently antithetical to Israel, Indonesia clearly places a higher value on avoiding trouble with radical Islamist elements at home than it does on normalizing relations with far-away Israel. The precedent was established by founding President Sukarno, who brushed aside early Israeli overtures and eventually adopted a strong pro-Arab policy as part of an overarching anticolonialist worldview. Although under Suharto the formal policy toward Israel remained largely unchanged, around the margins the New Order regime found it useful to conduct unofficial dealings with Israel, most significantly in the area of military hardware. Since Suharto's demise in 1998, the idea of establishing ties with Israel has arisen periodically in political circles, most notably under the brief presidency of progressive Islamic leader Abdurrahman Wahid, but any concrete developments are likely dependent on progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


American Jews and Evangelical Christians: Anatomy of a Changing Relationship
Carl Schrag

In the aftermath of the U.S. elections of November 2004, national attention has focused on the role of the growing Evangelical Christian community. Among many Jews and friends of Israel, this community - and its views on a wide range of domestic and international issues - has been a topic of great interest and debate for years. At a time when Israel has lost ground in the battle for global public opinion, vocal support from Evangelical Christians has been welcomed by many American Jews and Israelis. The enthusiasm, however, is not universal; many American Jews have misgivings about the Evangelicals' embrace of the Jewish state.

Those who are uncomfortable with Evangelical support point to a long list of problems ranging from the theological reasons that this community supports Israel and its hard-line views on territorial issues to the positions espoused by many Evangelicals on a wide range of domestic issues, including abortion, church-state separation, gun control, and so on.

Among Jews who welcome Evangelical support, a common argument is that Israel's present-day needs must take precedence over potential problems in the future. They advocate cooperating on issues of shared concern while agreeing to disagree on other matters, so long as Evangelicals do not target Jews for proselytization.

In many ways, the debate over how to address Evangelical support for Israel parallels the newer debate in the broader American society that stems from the strong role played by Evangelicals in the national elections. As the election results underscored, Jews who care about Israel, including those uncomfortable with the notion of cooperating, will find themselves unable to ignore the influence of the large bloc of conservative Christians in America.


Jews and Fundamentalism
Samuel C. Heilman

The differences between active and quiescent fundamentalism, two stages of the phenomenon, help explain developments among contemporary Orthodox Jewry, which is also divided along these lines. Included in the former category are Orthodox Jewish settlers in the Land of Israel as well as Chabad Hasidim who are on a mission to transform Jewish life. Those who make up haredi Jewry, and in particular those in the world of the yeshivas, constitute the latter category. The year of yeshiva study spent in Israel by young Orthodox Jews from America plays an important role in shaping these categories.


Hazkarah: A Symbolic Day for the Reconstituting of the Jewish-Ethiopian Community
Emanuela Trevisan Semi

This article analyzes the invention of the Hazkarah (memory), a new holiday of Ethiopian Jews in Israel that commemorates those Ethiopian Jews who perished while trying to reach Israel from Ethiopia before and during Operation Moses (1984-1985), and is held concurrently with the national holiday of Jerusalem Day. The process of establishing this day is considered in light of this community's current sense of marginalization in Israeli society. Hazkarah expresses the Ethiopian Jews' process of Israelization in contrast to their traditional holiday of Segd, celebrated in Ethiopia to mark the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai and reintroduced in Israel to express the community's re-Ethiopianization.


Defeating Anti-Israeli and Anti-Semitic Activity on Campus - A Case Study:
Rutgers University

Rebecca Leibowitz

Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in the fall of 2000, anti-Israeli activity, in the form of rallies, divestment campaigns, and misinformation about the political situation in Israel, has increased significantly across American university campuses. Jewish students at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, were intimidated by the extreme anti-Israeli sentiment that often crossed the line into anti-Semitic activity. In the months leading up to the Third Annual Palestinian Solidarity Movement Conference, scheduled to meet at Rutgers, pro-Israeli student activists mobilized to combat the anti-Israeli movement by creating a new, proactive campaign. Called Israel Inspires, this campaign had a major impact on student opinion toward Israel, prevailing over both anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity in the fall of 2004.