Source: The New York Times
Here and Now
By Deborah E. Lipstadt
As recently as the turn of this century, it was just about plausible to hope that anti-Semitism might soon go the way of fear of witches — not extinct, but too manifestly absurd for all but the dumbest of bigots to avow. In the United States, there was hardly an institution where Jews weren’t welcomed and fully (if not over-) represented. In Europe, taboos against anti-Semitism continued to hold firm two generations after the end of World War II. In the Middle East, it seemed possible that the peace process would lead at least to a softening of hatred toward the Jewish state.
And in London, Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish history at Emory, was fighting a defamation suit brought against her by the Holocaust denier David Irving. When the 349-page verdict against Irving was handed down in April 2000, it felt as if a concluding chapter in the history of an infamous lie had been written.
Lipstadt’s new book, “Antisemitism: Here and Now” — completed long before the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, but made all the more timely in its wake — underscores how vain that millennial hope was. Written as a series of letters to two composite characters, a “whip smart” Jewish college student and a well-meaning gentile law professor, Lipstadt’s book aims not to break new scholarly ground but to awaken her audience to the nature, persistence and scale of the threat, along with the insidious ways in which it seeks to disguise itself.