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The new-old Jew hatred
Op-ed: Current-day anti-Semitism obsessed with concept of Jews as the chosen people

The malignant use of the expression “chosen Jews” is recurring in the latest attacks on Israel made by secular intellectuals, archbishops, mainstream journalists and European politicians.

 

Such vilification inspired historical waves of violence, like the pogroms, the expulsion of the Spanish Jews and Martin Luther’s demonology (the founder of Protestantism argued that the Jews were no longer the chosen people but instead “the Devil’s people.”)

 

“Modern-day Jews are not God’s chosen people,” the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, declared recently in a meeting with former US President Jimmy Carter. “Do not believe their claims that they are God’s chosen people, because it is not true.”

 

It is no longer only Syria that aired a movie against the “Chosen Jews” or the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mohammad Mahathir, who warned that “the Jews must never think they are the chosen people.” The obsession for this issue now widely appears in the latest indictments of Israel as an “apartheid state” and in the legal campaigns against the Law of Return.

 

Recently, Stephen Sizer, a leading British theologian, released a declaration to support the UN Palestinian bid: “The New Testament insists the promises God made to Abraham are fulfilled not in the Jewish people but in Jesus and those who acknowledge him.” According to Sizer, the Jewish covenant with God is “rubbish.”

 

Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, a cleric chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to draft the conclusions of the synod on the Middle East, declared that “there is no longer a Jewish chosen people,” resurrecting the ancient calumny that the Jews are damned for all time as cosmic exiles. Elias Chacour, the Vatican-approved Catholic Archbishop of Israel, says that “we do not believe anymore that the Jews are the Chosen People.”

 

Many anti-Semitic comments are based on the concept of Jews as the chosen people. “All Jews share a particular gene, that makes them different from other peoples,” recently declared German central bank executive Thilo Sarrazin. Christina Patterson attacked the Jews in a column for The Independent: “I didn’t realize that a purchase by a goy was a crime to be punished with monosyllabic terseness, or that bus seats were a potential source of contamination, or that road signs, and parking restrictions, were for people who hadn’t been chosen by God.”

 

'We call it racism'

Meanwhile, acclaimed Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis told an interviewer that “today it is possible to say that this small nation is the root of all evil; it is full of self-importance and evil stubbornness.” Asked by his interlocutor, “what is it that holds us Jews together?” Theodorakis replied, “It is the feeling that you are the children of God. That you are the chosen.”

 

Elsewhere, European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, a former Belgian foreign minister, recently blamed the “Jewish lobby” and said that “there is indeed a belief - it’s difficult to describe it otherwise - among most Jews that they are right.” De Gucht’s target was the Jews, not Israeli policies.

 

Jostein Gaarder, author of the literary bestseller Sophie’s World, published an op-ed titled “God’s chosen people” in the Aftenposten, one of Norway’s major newspapers, in which he declared that Israel has lost its right to exist: “We no longer recognize the state of Israel….We don’t believe in the idea of God’s chosen people….To present oneself as God’s chosen people is not just stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.”

 

José Saramago, the Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize laureate, described the Jews in perfervid terms as “contaminated by the monstrous and rooted ‘certitude’ that in this catastrophic and absurd world there exists a people chosen by God and that, consequently, all the actions of an obsessive, psychological, and pathological exclusivist racism are justified.”

 

The plot of celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children,” which got much acclaim at London’s Royal Court Theater, is built on the Jewish obsession. Churchill’s short play unfolds over seven scenes, beginning, dimly, sometime during the Holocaust and concluding with Israel’s wars. Characters appear as parents of an offstage child, and the dialogue revolves around what the girl should or should not know about her political circumstances as they unfold over the decades.

 

“Tell her”, says one of the play’s Zionist elders, “I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out . . . tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people.”

 

This is the same delusional lexicon of medieval Jew-hatred. Taken to its logical end, this language suggests that there is only one price the Jews can pay for being accepted by the world: Israel’s elimination. Indeed, this worldwide condemns the Jews to homelessness and humiliation, chosen to walk the earth alone until the end of the days.  

 

Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism

 

 

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