Book edited by IU scholar Rosenfeld examines ‘new antisemitism’

It has been nearly two years since 45 scholars from 10 countries gathered at IU Bloomington for four days of intensive analysis and discussion of a disturbing development: the rise of antisemitism as a global and multifaceted phenomenon.

But the newly published book that their work produced – “Deciphering the New Antisemitism” – is as timely as a work of scholarship is ever likely to be, said Indiana University professor Alvin Rosenfeld, who convened the April 2014 conference and edited the volume.

Deciphering the New Antisemitism“It’s all too relevant,” said Rosenfeld, who holds the Irving Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies and is professor of English and director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at IU Bloomington. “Most scholars who study this would agree that antisemitism has been on the upsurge for the past 15 to 16 years. It is widespread and has a lot of momentum. And the kind of issues we address are, unfortunately, still occurring.”

Published by Indiana University Press, “Deciphering the New Antisemitism” is part of a series edited by Rosenfeld titled Studies in Antisemitism.

It includes essays on a range of topics, such as antisemitism and Islamophobia, anti-Zionism, attempts to delegitimize Israel, developments in the Holocaust denial movement and regional manifestations of antisemitism in Europe, Iran and the Middle East and among the American political left.

Contributors, in addition to Rosenfeld, include French writer and intellectual Pascal Bruckner; Bernard Harrison, the author of “The Resurgence of Antisemitism: Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion”; Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Matthias Küntzel, German political scientist and the author of “Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11.”

Rosenfeld ties awareness of what scholars call the new antisemitism to the 2002 execution of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by Islamist militants while reporting in Pakistan. In a video recorded and posted by his captors, Pearl said, “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.”

“That’s tantamount to a capital crime,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s a death sentence for these people.”

Since then, acts of violence against Jews have become routine news across much of the world. Terrorists who carried out large-scale attacks in India and France targeted Jews and Jewish institutions; Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials have been vandalized; and in recent months, Palestinian assailants have attacked Jews at bus stops and on city streets.

“We’re in an age where antisemitism is back,” Rosenfeld said. “And it’s back in some very violent ways.”

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