Prof. Dr. Monika Schwarz-Friesel, Technical University of Berlin

“Israel is the evil of the world” (Twitter, 2017): Israel-related Antisemitism


In the twenty-first century, the official ban on antisemitic utterances has lost its influence, and the articulation of traditional antisemitic stereotypes by projecting them on Israel has increased significantly. In fact, Anti-Israelism is the most dominant manifestation of contemporary Antisemitism. The rich body of empirical data and a longitudinal corpus-based study show that the old resentment is still very much alive, not only on the edges of society, but also in the mainstream of German and European society. In fact, antisemitism turns out to be a worldwide phenomenon on the rise. The international attitude toward the Jewish state has become extremely hostile and aggressive everywhere; this hostility is based on Judeophobic stereotypes and is nothing else but the age-old bias in new garb. There are virulent anti-Israel campaigns that claims to be critical of Israel but in fact are based on hostility toward Jews and uses the same demonizing verbal strategies as do right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis.

Hatred of Israel is at the center of the activities of antisemites no matter whether from the right, left, or mainstream. Demonizing Israel “as the most dangerous peril” on earth, delegitimizing and de-realizing the Jewish state as an “apartheid regime practicing state terror,” calling it a “child-murderer” and a “disgrace to humankind,” asking people to boycott its products because of its “state racism” is not criticism; it is antisemitism in its current, most dominant manifestation. Here, once again, antisemitism proves to be a chameleon: it changes its colors according to the social and political situations, to ethical standards of the environment, but stays the same at its cognitive and emotional core.

Hatred of and hostility toward Jews are deeply engraved in the collective memory. Over the centuries, the surface has changed, but the core of hateful feelings and mental stereotypes has remained unaltered. Further, Judeophobia proves to be resistant to education, to argument, to reasoning, to facts. In spite of all the efforts to erase the distorted and false picture of Jews and Judaism after the Holocaust, the data of my longitudal research reveal the continuity and persistence of the age-old hostility toward Jews, the stereotypes on which it rests, and its most current linguistic manifestations. Deeply rooted in the Western tradition of thinking and feeling for almost two thousand years, it proves to be a central part of Western culture and therefore should not be seen as one prejudice among others, not some kind of xenophobia, but as a belief system, a way of explaining the world according to Western culture. To cope with contemporary hatred of Jews, to find a solution so as to seriously and effectively fight it, one must take this into account.

Schwarz-Friesel, Monika / Jehuda Reinharz, 2017. Inside the Antisemitic Mind. The Language of Jew-Hatred in Contemporary Germany. Boston: University Press of New England.