When an exhibition on contemporary anti-Semitism opened this month at the Foreign Office in Berlin, Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler said it was "appropriate" that the topic wasn't squirreled away in a historical museum but on display in the bright atrium of a German ministry.
"Anti-Semitism has sadly not been left where it belongs, in the poison cabinet reserved for the pathogens of hard-to-cure diseases of the past," he said. "Unfortunately it is a phenomenon of today's Europe which our foreign policy has to confront as well."
The exhibit, called "Anti-Semitism? Anti-Zionism? Criticism of Israel?" is a series of anti-Jewish posters and cartoons from Europe and the Middle East. It covers manifestations of anti-Semitism in the era of September 11, the second intifada, and the Iraq war -- from left-wing groups in Europe calling for boycotts of Israel to white supremacist bands and soccer hooligans behaving badly on the distant right. [Please see our article, "Left-Wing Anti-Semitism Generated out of the Black Community: a New Phenomenon."]
"We have to uncover the roots of anti-Semitism," said Wolfgang Benz, director of Berlin's Center for Anti-Semitism Research, in an interview with the German daily Die Welt. (The Center organized the exhibition along with Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial.) "Above all we have to show that behind all forms of Jew-hatred there's some sort of instrumentalization: Jews are made responsible for grievances which they had nothing to do with."
The exhibition shows ugly examples of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that surfaced after the September 11 assaults in America and the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. (Jews were blamed for both.)
Other parts show recent photos of virulent far-right graffiti and broken headstones in Jewish cemeteries in Germany. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2005 speech called "A World Without Israel" receives a wall panel's worth of commentary, and so do protests against "Zionism" by Palestinians in Europe who carry signs comparing Ariel Sharon to Hitler.
"The Islamic world," said Benz, "takes its recipes from the poisonous kitchen of 19th-century European nationalism. Racism originally was quite foreign to Islam, in contrast with European cultures."
One striking panel shows the lurid covers of various editions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The book, which purports to describe a Jewish world conspiracy, was a hoax invented by an anti-Semitic Russian journalist in the late 1890s and propagated in Europe by the Nazis. [We urge you to see our articles, "Origins of the Illuminist Myth" and "Pat Robertson, Illuminism, and the New World Order."]
Covers from Europe in the 1930s show grinning Jews squeezing blood from the globe; a cover from an Arabic edition shows Jews slicing open a bearded man's throat. But the Jewish "plot" outlined in the text still has currency in the Muslim world: The exhibit shows a cover from one edition that was on sale, illegally, in the Iranian pavilion at the 2005 Frankfurt Book Fair.
The Difference Between
Conspiracy Theories About Jews and 9/11
THE JEWISH CONSPIRACY IN ASIA
Few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew — and yet antisemitism persists
A Chinese bestseller entitled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the current crisis.
Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews Is To See the World Clearly; The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols, and I'd Like to Apologize To the Japanese — A Jewish Elder's Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which Japanese came across after defeating the Czar's army in 1905.
The Chinese picked up many modern western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. The former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Bin Mohammed, has said that "the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." And a recent article in a leading Filipino business magazine explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the United States today.
In the case of Mahathir, a twisted kind of Muslim solidarity is probably at work. But, unlike European or Russian antisemitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children's blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad.
So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of enquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the west, they become an obvious fixture of anti-western paranoia.
Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonized, but it, too, felt the west's dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on western terms.
The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the "rootless cosmopolitan" Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.
One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonized people adopted some of the very prejudices that justified colonial rule. Antisemitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia long after they fell out of fashion in the west.
In some ways, Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia have shared some of the hostility suffered by Jews in the west. Excluded from many occupations, they, too, survived by clannishness and trade. They, too, have been persecuted for not being "sons of the soil". And they, too, are thought to have superhuman powers when it comes to making money. So when things go wrong, the Chinese are blamed, not just for being greedy capitalists, but also, again like the Jews, for being communists, since both capitalism and communism are associated with rootlessness and cosmopolitanism.
As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people's views of the US, and, indeed, of the Jews.
Japanese antisemitism is a particularly interesting case. Japan was able to defeat Russia in 1905 only after a Jewish banker in New York, Jacob Schiff, helped Japan by floating bonds. So The Protocols of the Elders of Zion confirmed what the Japanese already suspected: Jews really did pull the strings of global finance. But, instead of wishing to attack them, the Japanese, being a practical people, decided that they would be better off cultivating those clever, powerful Jews as friends.
As a result, during the second world war, even as the Germans were asking their Japanese allies to round up Jews and hand them over, dinners were held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria to celebrate Japanese-Jewish friendship. Jewish refugees in Shanghai, though never comfortable, at least remained alive under Japanese protection. This was good for the Jews of Shanghai. But the very ideas that helped them to survive continue to muddle the thinking of people who really ought to know better by now.
We need your help to spread the word concerning Antipas Ministries and the eschatological viewpoint it represents; WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE WE DO NOT "LINK" WITH OTHER SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" WEBSITES which are, for the most part, "in the tank" insofar as their loyalty to the United States is concerned - a loyalty that has made them partners in the BLOODY trail the American military has left in its TERROR-RIDDEN rampage throughout the world, as well as making them partners in the abject poverty that American corporations have imposed on the peoples and nations the American military machine has ravaged - A BLOODY, TERROR-RIDDEN RAMPAGE THAT HAS TO A LARGE DEGREE BEEN CARRIED OUT IN THE NAME OF THE "PRINCE OF PEACE." [Please see our articles, "The Third World as a Model for the New World Order," Inside the American New World Order System" and "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."]
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