Monika Schwarz-Friesel & Jehuda Reinharz @ Jerusalem Post:
Between 2002 and 2012, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany received over 14,000 emails, letters, postcards and faxes from all regions of Germany. Figuring that this material could provide us a window into the contemporary German mind vis-à-vis Israel, we conducted a study of these messages and found that the vast majority began with criticisms of Israel’s policies but immediately deteriorated into antisemitic assaults. We call this phenomenon the “Israelization of antisemitism.”
We found a similar pattern in a smaller study of over 2,000 emails sent by citizens of eight European countries to the Israeli embassies in those countries. We believe that the results are representative of similar antisemitic discourse worldwide, including in the United States, as a recent ADL investigation showed that 2.6 million antisemitic messages were posted on Twitter between August 2015 and July 2016.
To be certain that we did not conflate anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments, we defined in advance the definitions of criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Jewish hatred.
Another startling conclusion of our study was that, contrary to popular assumptions, it is not exclusively alt-right, neo-Nazis and/or extreme left-wingers who think this way. On the contrary, the language of contemporary antisemitism, as in the past, is anchored in and spread by the educated mainstream as much as by fringe groups. Rather than physical attacks on Jews – with some exceptions – today’s assaults are verbal, ideological and cloaked in the guise of a critique of policies of the State of Israel.
Antisemitic attacks throughout the centuries have been grounded in demonizing Jews as the ultimate evil. This concept was found repeatedly in the messages we studied. For example, in one 2007 letter to an Israeli embassy, the writer states: “The Israelis are and remain, no matter what a show they put on, the greatest racists, war criminals, warmongers, murderers, child-murderers, violators of international law, torturers, robbers and thieves, Nazis, liars, [and] terrorists....” Another message sent to the embassy in 2008 announces plainly: “Here’s one in the kisser for you, you filthy Jew. You’re to blame for the misery in the world!”
In addition to demonization, a second millennia-long antisemitic idea delegitimizes the very existence of Jews, paving the way first for segregation and then elimination or genocide. Just as Jews have no right to exist, it is claimed, a state so abysmally evil and destructive has no right to exist. In the minds of these antisemites, Israel has become the collective Jew and should be destroyed.