Brandeis conference puts anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in historical perspective.
ith uneasy feelings about the growing
menace of anti-Semitism, especially in
Europe, a group of scholars from Israel,
Europe and the United States gathered
at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., March 24-
Though scholars reject any comparison between
today and the rise of anti-Semitism leading to Nazism,
still "the question of whether we can see and under-
stand the danger [of anti-Semitism] in real time was
something that permeated the discussions at the con-
ference," Dr. Anita Shapira of Tel Aviv University said.
• Is the current anti-Semitism the same old anti-
Semitism or something new?
• Where does it come from?
• Can there be a principled anti-Zionism?
• How does the Holocaust and World War II affect
anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism today?
To get to the heart of these questions, 20 scholars
from around the world and several community leaders
gathered with 100 participants at Brandeis for
"Convergence and Divergence: Anti-Semitism and
Anti-Zionism in Historical Perspective."
Bernard Lewis, emeritus professor at Princeton
University, gave the keynote talk on the new anti-
Semitism before 500 people. In essence, Lewis said
Zionism, an ideology, could be criticized without being
motivated by anti-Semitism.
However, it is anti-Semitism when nations or the
World Court use a double standard or different stan-
dards of justice where Israel is concerned, he said.
There was, for example, worldwide outrage over
Sabra and Shatila. In 1982, Israel was blamed for not
protecting the Palestinians in these Lebanese camps
from the Christian militia that massacred more than
But little was said or written in the world press about
the mass slaughter the same year by the Syrian govern-
ment of 20,000 civilians in Hama.
The conferees discussed various forms of anti-
Semitism. Religious anti-Semitism is an outgrowth of
the relationship between Christians and Jews. A politi-
cal form of anti-Semitism developed because of the role
Jews played in societyas carriers of modernity. Even in
the Middle Ages, Jews were a literate people because lit-
eracy was essential for the religion, said Dr. Andrei
Markovits of the University of Michigan.
"Literacy predestined Jews to be well-situated in the
rise of towns; we were ready-made for new labor mar-
kets like no others in Christian Europe," he said.
"Virtually all criticism and movements against moder-
nity assumed in some form or other anti-Jewish and
A modern root of anti-Semitism woven through sev-
eral presentations was the connection between the
Holocaust and the resulting guilt in countries like
Germany and France, where the Vichy government .
sided with the Nazis.
"The rise of anti-Semitism in France after 1945 was
so virulent because they were uncomfortable with their
guilt as collaborators," said keynoter Lewis. The Arab-
Israeli conflict gave the French an opportunity to
relieve their guilt from an attitude of moral superiority,
he said. Now the French felt they could point the fin-
ger at the Jews for being immoral in their role with the
'All discussions about the Jews and anti-Jewish
movements, and the Arab-Israeli conflict are colored by
this heavy Holocaust history," said Dr. David Cesarani
of Southampton University in England.
Markovits said he talks to Jewish scholars in Europe
every day and there's a disappointment in the post-
Holocaust world. "For those who once thought anti-
Semitism would be banned forever, its not the case,"
Basic rights aren't taken away, "But is there an under-
lining resentment? Certain stigmatization? Voices
Gift Of Education
$500, 000 donation to assist Oakland U. Judaic studies, students of single parent households.
akland University Board of Trustees
Chair Henry Baskin is making a
$500,000 gift to provide scholarships to
children of single-parent households in
financial need and also to support the Judaic
studies course in the College of Arts and Sciences
"Henry Baskin has been a longtime friend of
Oakland University and cares deeply for our stu-
dents," said OU President Gary D. Russi. "This
gift is further testament to the abiding passion
and commitment Henry has for Oakland and its
The Judaic studies course, which Baskin initiat-
ed, has been a part of the CAS since 2000, and
averages 16 students per class, said Baskin, a
Birmingham-based attorney. OU has 16,000 stu-
dents and a 2-3 per-
cent annual growth
the student population
at Oakland University
probably knew very lit-
tle about Judaism, I
thought it would be an
ence for them in addi-
tion to the courses
The dollar amount
going to the course will
be determined annually
as well as the number
and dollar amount of the partial scholarships
going to the single-parent households, Baskin
For the thousands of children of divorce scat-
tered throughout the Detroit area, college tuition
"becomes an expensive proposition; so a lot of
kids opt out of it because they can't afford it,"
Baskin said, adding that after age 18, parents are
no longer financially responsible for them.
The scholarships will help get as many kids as
possible some assistance, he said. "We more than
ever need college degrees to compete in the global
Appointed to OU's Board of Trustees in 1996,
Baskin was named chair in September. 2002. He is
also a special assistant to the Michigan attorney
general. He chaired former Gov. John Engler's
Domestic Violence Task Force and helped prom-
ulgate the Personal Protection Order legislation.
He currently serves on the board of visitors of the
Wayne State Law School.