Playing politics with antisemitism

This is a guest post by Oliver Worth
It takes more than one reading of Antony Lerman’s recent CiF Piece, ‘Refusing to be defined by anti-semitism’ to put your finger on exactly what leaves such a sour taste in the mouth.
Lerman’s proactive attempts to discredit every major organization fighting to reduce anti semitism?  His gleefully ignorant claims that a small nation’s only synagogue being burned down twice within the space of a week is unrelated to anti-semitism?  His surreal claims that the fact that the crimes may have seen the involvement of non-Greek nationals renders the Greek authorities non-responsible for protecting Jewish inhabitants? Even the fact that the writer has the gall to accuse his contemporaries of using anti-semitism as a political tool whilst ruthlessly employing just this tactic?  Try all the above.
Lerman’s supposed premise of the article is that Jews should not be ‘defined by anti-semitism’, no doubt a noble and true aspiration, yet he devotes no space in his article to explain how we should pro-actively define ourselves as Jews, preferring instead to needlessly slam those groups fighting to end anti-semitism and allow Jew’s to do just that – define themselves.
What Lerman does do is heap mountains of praise on the local Greek authorities and points out the local paper “carried a full page on the attacks”.  Perhaps most disturbing about Lerman’s close minded view of anti-semitism is his view that Greece, a Western nation and member of the European Union, deserves such praise for carrying out it’s absolute obligation, to protect its minority citizens – and even then only once the synagogue has been burned for the second time.
But without doubt, Lerman’s most outrageous claim is his steadfast denial that the attacks were “intended to intimidate and terrorize Greece’s Jewish community”.  And how does Lerman justify his claim?  By pointing out that some of the “principle culprits were not locals”, like this somehow renders the fact the choice of attack was the only synagogue in Crete, incidental.
Just why Antony Lerman is so hellbent on burying his head in the sand and denying anti-semitism when it’s there for the world to see is anyone’s guess.  But something is for sure.  Lerman is doing absolutely nothing to help Jews ‘define themselves’ by purposefully hampering the work of those organizations whose raison d’être is to stamp out anti-semitism.  And what’s more, there’s more than a smattering of irony in his claim that his colleagues use anti-semitism as part of a “self-serving political agenda”.  Perhaps what Lerman really requires is a look in the mirror.

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