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New Books in World Affairs

Marshall Poe

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New Books in World Affairs
61 MIN2013 OCT 22
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There are 13 million Jews in the world today. There are also 13 million Senegalese, 13 million Zambians, 13 million Zimbabweans, and 13 million Chadians. These are tiny–a realist might say “insignificant”–nations. But here’s the funny–though that doesn’t seem like the right world–thing. One of them is the focus of a persistent, virulent, worldwide prejudice, an intense hostility that is totally out of proportion with its size and, the realist would add, significance. And you know exactly which one it is.In his eye-opening book The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism (Little, Brown and Co., 2013), Daniel Jonah Goldhagen explores the historical origins of anti-semitism in Europe and its remarkable spread after the Second World War. It is, at least to me, a bizarre and discouraging story. There is, of course, no rational basis for anti-semitism per se. Yet it is everywhere, part of national cultures and discourses throughout the world. This is true where there are Jews (always in tiny numbers) and it is true where there are no Jews at all (as in most of the developing world). Goldhagen does a masterful job of describing the migration of anti-semitism from Europe to everywhere else and works hard to explain it. I don’t know if even he would say he succeeded in the latter task because, well, the entire phenomenon seems to defy rational explanation.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices