For countless millions around the world, hate is the answer. Hatred of Jews, that is.
That’s the frightening assessment of Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior editor of Commentary magazine and author of “The Return of Anti-Semitism.”
Schoenfeld will be in San Francisco on Monday, March 8, speaking before members and guests of the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
His thesis is simple: Anti-Semitism is now at its most alarming level since the days of Auschwitz and Treblinka and getting worse. Schoenfeld’s book is an exhaustive accounting of all the bad news.
The New York-based writer got the idea for the book after the installation of sweeping new security systems in the American Jewish Committee building in which he works, turning it into a virtual fortress. Apparently, Jews are no longer safe even in the heart of Manhattan.
The resulting specter of fear caused Schoenfeld to ponder the root causes.
“I wanted to collect and evaluate the evidence in a neutral way,” he says. “This is a subject that turns the stomach, and though I started out not particularly alarmed, I became frightened by my own material.”
It’s not hard to see why. In his book, Schoenfeld methodically details example after example of vicious Jew hatred throughout the Muslim world, Europe and America. He points not only to the murderous maniacs of Hezbollah and Hamas, but also to urbane academics, government officials and media pundits from around the world. Together, they made good ol’ fashioned Judeophobia respectable again.
“We are facing a civilization infected with this hatred,” he says. “A billion people in the Muslim world, large numbers here. It’s not something that can be combated easily.”
With recent books on the same subject by the ADL’s Abraham Foxman, Israeli politician Dore Gold and others, Schoenfeld knew he was touching on a hot topic. One of his original observations: a phenomenon he calls “anti-Semitism denial.”
“It’s difficult in the comfortable democratic West to imagine what’s going on in other societies,” he says. “It’s even difficult for me to feel its force. We don’t see [anti-Semitism] in our daily lives. We shut it out. But that doesn’t make it go away.”
Gabriel Schoenfeld will speak noon Monday, March 8, at the American Jewish Committee offices, 121 Steuart St., S.F. Free. Information: (415) 777-3820.
“The Return of Anti-Semitism” by Gabriel Schoenfeld (193 pages, Encounter Books, $25.95)