Wednesday 6 February 2008

The Archbishop and anti-Semitism, by Stephen Pollard

This piece was posted by Stephen Pollard on his blog:

"Credit where it's due. Rowan Williams, who previously I had thought at best a waste of space and, sometimes, a lot worse in his attitude towards Israel, has made a remarkably strong attack on antisemites and the elision of anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

Last week he delivered the Wiener Lecture in the House of Lords. The topic was blasphemy, but his focus was also on how societies should be judged by how they treat 'the other', and especially their Jews:

"Yet again, we should remember some of the history of anti-Semitism. Some of the passionate polemic against Jewish people in the New Testament reflects a situation in which Christian groups were still small and vulnerable over against an entrenched religio-political establishment; but the language is repeated and intensified when the Church is no longer a minority and when Jews have become more vulnerable than ever.

It is part of the pathology of anti-Semitism (as of other irrational group prejudices) that it needs to work with a myth of an apparent minority which is in fact secretly powerful and omnipresent. It is the pattern we see in the workings of the Spanish Inquisition, searching everywhere for Jewish converts who might be backsliding; it is the myth of the Elders of Zion and comparable fantasies of plots for world domination; it is the indiscriminate attribution (not only by certain Muslims) of all the evils of the Western world to an indeterminate 'Zionism'.

A rhetoric shaped by particular circumstances has become so embedded that the actualities of power relations in the real world cannot touch it. There are many instances where the habit of imagining oneself in terms of victimhood has become so entrenched that even one’s own power, felt and exercised, does not alter the mythology.""

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