A few months ago in this Blog (in “Europe’s Toxic Anti-Semitism Problem,” July 10), I used a somewhat misleading headline debate between Manfred Gerstenfeld, author of “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” and Robert Wistrich, in my view the world’s leading authority on the history of anti-Semitism. According to the headlines, Gerstenfeld used polling data to estimate that “there are well over 150 million European anti-Semites,” while Wistrich countered that the existence of 150 million idiots does not necessarily equate with the existence of 150 million anti-Semites.
In fact, Gerstenfeld and Wistrich agree on the grim fundamentals with Daniel Goldhagen’s “The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism” (2013): that the fusion of old-style anti-Semitism(s) with more recent Israel hatred has created “a new anti-Semitism” lethally potent in Europe as well as the Arab and Muslim world. They would probably also agree that the U.S. is an outlier, a point dramatized by a new ADL poll showing a decline of “hard core” American anti-Semites to 12 percent today, compared to 15 percent in 2011. Actually, the ADL results should be read with care. Today’s decline is really just a return to the 2009 poll results that only partly reflected the upward blip in anti-Jewish conspiracy theories stimulated by the global financial crisis.