Antisemitism is hostility to Jews as Jews, but defining antisemitism is complicated by Zionism and the existence of the State of Israel. The fundamental right to freedom of expression is threatened by the misuse of a definition of antisemitism and claimed examples of antisemitic conduct that encourage confusion between antisemitism and criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government and its institutions. The right to express criticism and to debate such policies and practices must not be suppressed by reliance on unsubstantiated claims of antisemitism.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been sitting in Germany’s federal parliament since September 2017, having won 12.6 percent of the popular vote. In considering this young party’s recent development, researchers have focussed on its rhetorical strategies (i.e., populism) and its radicalization. Until now, much less attention has been paid to antisemitism within the AfD— also because the party would prefer to keep this out of public debate. By investigating its treatment of antisemitism, Nazism, and the politics of remembrance, it can be shown that the AfD has the features of a far-right party, to a much clearer extent than might be guessed from its media image, particularly inside Germany.
I am grateful to the World Jewish Congress for inviting me to share my thoughts with this most distinguished gathering on the issues of Islamophobia and antisemitism. I would like to pay tribute to the Maimonides Foundation and Lord Janner for organizing this, my second visit, to the holy city of Jerusalem. I am acutely aware of the honour given to me, the first European Muslim ever to be invited to address the World Jewish Congress.
New and Renewed Perspectives
The general picture drawn by Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton nearly forty years ago of the Vichy government’s state antisemitism has stood the test of time and has been reinforced. If an element of revisionism is called for, it is with respect to the role played by some figures within the Catholic hierarchy, especially Pierre- Marie Gerlier, the cardinal archbishop of Lyon. A still more detailed knowledge of Jewish rescue has been built up, which confirms the special position of Le Chambon and the Plateau Vivarais. And yet recent work also shows more clearly that what happened there was integrally part of a much wider story of rescue. The debate between Jacques Semelin, on the one hand, and Marrus and Paxton, on the other, over whether the fate of the Jews in France in 1940–1944 was shaped more by indifference than by consciously held antisemitism raises questions relating to both the history of Christianity and twentieth-century modernity.
Lessons Learned from Teaching The Merchant of Venice in Israel
Esther B. Schupak
Because of its potential for fostering antisemitic stereotypes, in the twentieth century The Merchant of Venice has a history of being subject to censorship in secondary schools in the United States. While in the past it has often been argued that the play can be used to teach tolerance and to fight societal evils such as xenophobia, racism and antisemitism, I argue that this is no longer the case due to the proliferation of performance methods in the classroom, and the resultant emphasis on watching film and stage productions. Because images – particularly film images – carry such strong emotional valence, they have the capacity to subsume other pedagogical aspects of this drama in their emotional power and memorability. I therefore question whether the debate over teaching this play is truly a question of ‘censorship’, or simply educational choice.
Michael Radford’s The Merchant of Venice
Maria-Clara Versiani Galery
This article discusses different responses to Michael Radford’s 2004 screen rendition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. It examines selected newspaper reviews, as well as academic papers that critique the filmic adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, taking into account its representation of Shakespeare’s Jew. The article interrogates to what extent the medium – theatre or cinema – affects the way the audience experiences the work, especially when dealing with an issue as complex as antisemitism. In this manner, Radford’s attempt to historicize the events in Merchant is viewed as a form of attenuating the antisemitic elements in the play.
A Comedic Film between History and Memory
This article reappraises Gérard Oury’s Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob (1973), a comedy about a bigoted Frenchman and an Arab revolutionary disguised as orthodox rabbis, by considering the film’s original historical context, its attention to traumatic memories, and its place inside French culture as a cinematic lieu de mémoire. Rabbi Jacob represented a comedic medium through which Oury addressed the serious themes of racism and antisemitism as he envisioned multicultural reconciliation between the French, Arabs, and Jews. Rabbi Jacob was inseparable from the history of Jews in France, their deportation during the Second World War, and the postwar acceptance that being Jewish was compatible with integration into France. At the same time, Rabbi Jacob portrayed Arabs as a series of (post)colonial stereotypes leading one pro-Palestinian supporter to hijack an airplane in protest. Rabbi Jacob records an optimistic moment at the close of the trente glorieuses and continues to serve as a source for narratives on philo-Semitism, tolerance, and anti-racism in France.
Robert Badinter, Un Antisémitisme ordinaire: Vichy et les avocats juifs (1940-1944) (Paris: Fayard, 1997).
Richard H. Weisberg, Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France (New York: NYU Press, 1996).
Representations of Jews and Judaism in Twenty-First-Century British Historical Fiction for Children
Beginning in the 1960s, British children's literature began to include sympathetic representations of people from outside the dominant culture. Greater numbers of Jewish characters appeared as part of this trend. In the succeeding decades, the British publishing industry has continued to encourage cultural sensitivity in children's books, but this article argues that, despite this, in the twenty-first century constructions of Jews and Judaism increasingly resemble the stereotypical images common in works from previous eras. The paper goes on to contend that although these stereotypes were acknowledged and challenged in historical fiction for children of the 1960s and 1970s in order to promote tolerance, authorial intent in employing such images in more recent historical novels is often unclear, and as a result the texts convey ambivalent messages to today's young readers about the place of Jews in British society.
Text, and Pretexts for Changing Subtext
The Merchant of Venice remains a ‘problem play’ for contemporary production. Whether the play is inherently antisemitic or not, it remains one of the most popular of the canon. I will consider how actors and their directors can, with the wisdom imparted by twentieth-century psychology and Stanislavskian-derived ideas of objectives, circumstances and subtext, seek to circumvent the challenges and infuse problematic text with more acceptable interpretations. Possible reinterpretations of Shylock are centrally considered, but the characters and motives of Jessica, Portia, Antonio and Bassanio are also scrutinized. Such re-evaluation of the underlying motivations seems a reasonable resolution for keeping the text intact while undermining any inherent negative stereotyping. However, once we admit of this subversion of a writer’s intentions, what might the consequences be if there are those who wish to use the same tools to create anti-humanitarian theatre?