Jewish Political Studies Review 16:3-4 (Fall 2004)
3D Test of Anti-Semitism:
Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization
Foreword of JPSR Issue
When I was a dissident in the former Soviet Union, one of my regular
activities was monitoring anti-Semitism, and smuggling out evidence
and records of such activity to the West. I believed then that the free
world, particularly after the Holocaust, would always be a staunch
ally in the struggle against anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. Today, as a minister in the Israeli
government in charge of monitoring anti-Semitism, I find myself regularly
summoning the ambassadors of West European states to protest
anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in their countries and the often meek
response of their governments.
Over the past four years, we have witnessed a resurgence of anti-
Semitic activity in the democratic world. In Europe, synagogues have
been burned, rabbis have been abused in the streets, Jewish children
have been physically attacked on the way to school and inside schools,
and Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated.
Recognizing the "New Anti-Semitism"
Moreover, the so-called "new anti-Semitism" poses a unique challenge.
Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the
Jewish religion, "new anti-Semitism" is aimed at the Jewish state.
Since this anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of legitimate
criticism of Israel, it is more difficult to expose. Making the task even
harder is that this hatred is advanced in the name of values most of
us would consider unimpeachable, such as human rights.
Nevertheless, we must be clear and outspoken in exposing the new
anti-Semitism. I believe that we can apply a simple test - I call it the
"3D" test - to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from
The first "D" is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state
is being demonized; when Israel's actions are blown out of all sensible
proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis
and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz - this is anti-
Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.
The second "D" is the test of double standards. When criticism
of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United
Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and
major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when
Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among the world's ambulance
services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross - this is
The third "D" is the test of delegitimization: when Israel's fundamental
right to exist is denied - alone among all peoples in the world -
this too is anti-Semitism.
The Rise of Arab and Islamic Anti-Semitism
I am particularly concerned about the constant and growing stream of
anti-Semitic propaganda from the Arab and Muslim world - including
propaganda that is genocidal in nature against both Jews and the State
of Israel. This should be of grave concern, not only to Israel and Jews
but to men and women of good conscience everywhere. Such venom
defiles the Middle East and the international climate of discourse,
and makes it possible for unabashed Jew-hatred to be expressed with
Earlier this year, my office published a 150-page report on "Anti-
Semitism in the Contemporary Middle East." The study surveys anti-
Semitic reporting, editorials, and editorial caricatures in the government-
controlled press of Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian
Authority, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. In the more than
one hundred editorial cartoons included in this report, Jews and Israelis
are invariably represented as poisonous snakes, murderous Nazis,
and bloodthirsty Crusaders.
We found that vicious anti-Semitism which expressly calls for
massive terrorism and genocide against Jews, Zionists, and the State
of Israel is becoming more and more commonplace across the Arab
Middle East. Moreover, the borders between anti-Semitism, anti-
Americanism, and anti-Westernism have become almost completely
blurred. The overwhelming majority of this propaganda is issued from
the government-controlled media and from supposedly respectable
publishing houses closely tied to the Arab regimes.
There is a direct link between the laxity with which countries
have responded - or not responded - to growing Arab/Islamic anti-
Semitism and the sharp increase in physical and verbal attacks on
Jews and Israelis globally.
I recognize that there have been positive developments in the fight
against anti-Semitism over the past year or so. The Organization of
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has held several meetings
on fighting anti-Semitism, and for the first time ever the UN Commission
on Human Rights condemned anti-Semitism in three separate
resolutions, which were adopted by consensus.
But these important initiatives are not sufficient to combat state-sponsored
anti-Semitism, especially of the Arab/Islamic variety described
above. For real progress to be made, the free world must be
willing to not only publicly and forcefully condemn this anti-Semitism,
but also to pursue a policy of linkage against states that support anti-
The Need for a Linkage Policy
The effectiveness of a policy based on linkage was powerfully demonstrated
a generation ago after a group of dissidents inside the Soviet
Union, including myself, decided to form the Helsinki Group in the
wake of the Helsinki accords - the very agreement that led to the
establishment of the OSCE.
With the help of courageous leaders in the West who were willing
to link their relations with the Soviets to their treatment of their
own people, the Helsinki Group helped ensure that the Soviets could
not take one step in the international arena without their human
rights policies becoming an issue. As a result, real progress was
I believe that combating anti-Semitism ought to become a much
more prominent issue in the bilateral relations between America and
the Arab and Muslim worlds. Linkage can be used to marginalize the
extremists and to encourage and support those who reject this virulent
Anti-Semitism is not a threat only to Jews. History has shown us
that left unchecked, the forces behind anti-Semitism will imperil all
the values and freedoms that civilization holds dear. Never again
can the free world afford to sit on the sidelines when anti-Semitism
We must not let this happen. We must do everything in our power
to fight anti-Semitism. Armed with moral clarity, determination, and
a common purpose, this is a fight that we can and will win.
* * *
NATAN SHARANSKY, the former Prisoner of Zion who spent nine years in Soviet jails, was Israel's minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs when he wrote this article. In 2003 he founded the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, which brings together Jewish leaders and organizations from five continents for coordination and consultation in the struggle against anti-Semitism. He has also served as minister of industry and trade, interior minister, minister of construction and housing, and deputy prime minister. His memoir, Fear No Evil, was published in the United States in 1988 and has been translated into nine languages. His book, The Case for Democracy, was published by Public Affairs (New York) in 2004.
The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect
those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
The above essay appears in the Fall 2004 issue of the Jewish Political Studies Review, the first and only journal dedicated to the study of Jewish political institutions and behavior, Jewish political thought, and Jewish public affairs.
Published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (http://www.jcpa.org/), the JPSR appears twice a year in the form of two double issues, either of a general nature or thematic, with contributors including outstanding scholars from the United States, Israel, and abroad. The hard copy of the Fall 2004 issue will be available in the coming weeks. This issue focuses on "Emerging Anti-Semitic Themes."
From the Editor - Manfred Gerstenfeld
Foreword by Natan Sharansky
Foundations of an Israeli Grand Strategy Toward the European Union by Yehezkel Dror
Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism by Robert Wistrich
Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Ben Green
Abusing the Legacy of the Holocaust: The Role of NGOs in Exploiting Human Rights to Demonize Israel by Gerald M. Steinberg
International Organizations: Combating Anti-Semitism
in Europe by Michael Whine
Confronting Reality: Anti-Semitism in Australia Today by Jeremy Jones
Anti-Semitism in Canada by Manuel Prutschi
Anti-Semitism in Germany Today: Its Roots and Tendencies by Susanne Urban
Iceland, the Jews and Anti-Semitism, 1625-2004 by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson
The Persistence of Anti-Semitism on the British Left
by Ben Cohen
Suing Hitler's Willing Business Partners: American Justice
and Holocaust Morality by Michael J. Bazyler
A Case Study: Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.: A Battleground
for Israel's Legitimacy - by Joel Fishman
An Analytic Approach to Campus Pro-Israeli Activism
Case Study: John Hopkins University by Yonit Golub
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