Neglected Aspects of Discrimination

The Junta will next convene on Thursday, February 5th, 7:00 pm at the Algonquin Hotel, 59 W 44th St, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

We are delighted that Professor Andrzej Rapaczynski has agreed to spend the evening with us. I worked with Andrzej for 9 years at Project Syndicate, an international association of newspapers based in Prague, and he remains a good friend. Project Syndicate distributes opinion commentaries, which it provides for free to newspapers in the world’s poorest countries, while receiving financial contributions from those able to pay. Growing from a tiny organization when I first moved to Prague in the late 1990s, it has blossomed into one of the most influential sources of commentary in the world, with over 400 member newspapers in nearly 150 countries, and many of the most recognizable names in global politics, economics, literature, human rights etc. Andrzej is one of the founders of Project Syndicate and one of its four editors/directors.

Andrzej is originally from Poland and was a part of a group of dissidents who agitated for reform under communism. The resulting crackdown led to his immigration to the US. He has had a distinguished academic career, holding advanced degrees in philosophy and law, and is currently a law professor at Columbia.

Andrzej will introduce a discussion of two topics related to neglected aspects of discrimination. The first will be the surprisingly disproportionate numbers of Democrats in American academia. Studies show the proportion of academics who identify as Democrats is over 90% in most major American Universities (higher than, for instance, among organized labor). Yet, despite repeated calls for diversity in academia, very few people object to this or even notice that our academic research and discussion are overwhelmingly biased toward one point of view. And yet, according to most prevailing academic and legal doctrines from other areas of discrimination, it is absolutely impossible to get a similar disparity without actual exclusion. The interesting fact is, then, that discrimination bothers people with respect to certain categories of minorities, but the same people have difficulties in even noticing its existence with respect to others.

The second topic will be the rise of global anti-Semitism. This phenomenon is much more pronounced outside of the US, but the implications for the US are also serious. Andrzej spends a lot of time in Europe and is exposed in a unique fashion to global trends of opinion because of his role with Project Syndicate. In was in this capacity that he came across the attached commentary, which recently ran in Business World, a financial newspaper in the Philippines. It is the more interesting for the fact that its blatant anti-Semitism comes from a country that isn’t exactly known for its large Jewish population.

But the most disturbing trends are in Europe. Although much contemporary anti-Semitism takes the overt form of “anti-Zionism,” a very traditional anti-Jewish animus is often only thinly veiled in such manifestations as an anti-Semitic cartoon in a mainstream European paper or the boycott of Israeli scientists in British universities, conferences, and professional publications. Indeed, the relentless association of Israel with globalization (previously known as “rootless cosmopolitanism”), world capitalism, US imperialism, the domination of the press, and the control of the immoral entertainment sector harkens to the most classical forms of anti-Semitism. Criticizing Israeli policies of course doesn’t make you anti-Semitic, but supporting policies that are likely to endanger the lives of several million people living in Israel cannot be easily classified as a harmless intellectual opposition to “Zionism.” Andrzej will also argue that, unlike the anti-Semitism of the second half of the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, which was the preserve of the Right, today’s anti-Jewish animus seems to be largely associated with the Left, thus curiously returning to its origins in Europe before 1848.

We have yet to settle on a location yet, but will be in touch in the coming days with details.

Below you will find some stories and cartoons that we will discuss on the 5th.

Additionally, the following text is from Lexis:

The Boston Globe

April 28, 2002, Sunday ,THIRD EDITION




LENGTH: 860 words


In Belgium, thugs beat up the chief rabbi, kicking him in the face and calling him “a dirty Jew.” Two synagogues in Brussels were firebombed; a third, in Charleroi, was sprayed with automatic weapons fire.

In Britain, the cover of the New Statesman, a left-wing magazine, depicted a large Star of David stabbing the Union Jack. Oxford professor Tom Paulin, a noted poet, told an Egyptian interviewer that American Jews who move to the West Bank and Gaza “should be shot dead.” A Jewish yeshiva student reading the Psalms was stabbed 27 times on a London bus. Anti-Semitism, wrote a columnist in The Spectator, “has become respectable . . . at London dinner tables.” She quoted one member of the House of Lords: “The Jews have been asking for it and now, thank God, we can say what we think at last.”

In Italy, the daily paper La Stampa published a Page 1 cartoon: A tank emblazoned with a Jewish star points its gun at the baby Jesus, who pleads, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again?” In Corriere Della Sera, another cartoon showed Jesus trapped in his tomb, unable to rise, because Ariel Sharon, with rifle in hand, is sitting on the sepulchre.

In Germany, a rabbinical student was beaten up in downtown Berlin and a grenade was thrown into a Jewish cemetery. Thousands of neo-Nazis held a rally, marching near a synagogue on the Jewish sabbath. Graffiti appeared on a synagogue in the western town of Herford: “Six million were not enough.”

In Ukraine, skinheads attacked Jewish worshippers and smashed the windows of Kiev’s main synagogue. Ukrainian police denied that the attack was anti-Jewish.

In Greece, Jewish graves were desecrated in Ioannina and vandals hurled paint at the Holocaust memorial in Salonica. In Holland, an anti-Israel demonstration featured swastikas, photos of Hitler, and chants of “Sieg Heil” and “Jews into the sea.” In Slovakia, the Jewish cemetery of Kosice was invaded and 135 tombstones destroyed.

But nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France.

In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In Montpellier, the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseille; so was a Jewish school in Creteil. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, the words “Dirty Jew” were painted. In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months. According to the police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents per day since Easter.

Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming “Jews to the gas chambers” and “Death to the Jews.” The weekly journal Le Nouvel Observateur published an appalling libel: It said Israeli soldiers rape Palestinian women, so that their relatives will kill them to preserve “family honor.” The French ambassador to Great Britain was not sacked – and did not apologize – when it was learned that he had told guests at a London dinner that the world’s troubles were the fault of “that shitty little country, Israel.”

“At the start of the 21st century,” writes Pierre-Andre Taguieff, a well-known social scientist, in a new book, “we are discovering that Jews are once again select targets of violence. . . . Hatred of the Jews has returned to France.”

But of course, it never left. Not France; not Europe. Anti-Semitism, the oldest bigotry known to man, has been a part of European society since time immemorial. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, open Jew-hatred became unfashionable; but fashions change, and Europe is reverting to type.

To be sure, some Europeans are shocked by the re-emergence of Jew-hatred all over their continent. But the more common reaction has been complacency. “Stop saying that there is anti-Semitism in France,” President Jacques Chirac told a Jewish editor in January. “There is no anti-Semitism in France.” The European media have been vicious in condemning Israel’s self-defense against Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank; they have been far less agitated about anti-Jewish terror in their own backyard.

They are making a grievous mistake. For if today the violence and vitriol are aimed at the Jews, tomorrow they will be aimed at the Christians.

A timeless lesson of history is that it rarely ends with the Jews. Militant Islamist extremists were attacking and killing Jews long before they attacked and killed Americans on Sept. 11. The Nazis’ first set out to incinerate the Jews; in the end, all of Europe was burned in the fire.

Jews, it is often said, are the canary in the coal mine of civilization. When they become the objects of savagery and hate, it means the air has been poisoned and an explosion is soon to come. If Europeans don’t rise up and turn against the Jew-haters, the Jew-haters will rise up and turn against them.

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