Publications : Opinion Pieces  

Jews, Israel, and the War of a Million Cuts

Lee Sutherland, Brandeis Blog

August 7, 2015

Review: Manfred Gerstenfeld, The War of a Million Cuts:

The Struggle against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews

[New York: RVP Publishers Inc., 2015], [501 pgs.], $27.37.

In The War of a Million Cuts, Manfred Gerstenfeld describes the growth of anti-Semitism in the world and how it is often hidden behind anti-Israel comments. Gerstenfeld is the former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and has authored many other important books on anti-Semitism earning a reputation as a leader in this field. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism. He works throughout the book to expand the readers’ view of the breadth and depth of anti-Semitism while also explaining the new forms of these attacks.

He begins by discussing the new nature of anti-Semitism. In the post-Holocaust world, anti-Semitism is often mixed with or hidden by statements delegitimizing Israel as a nation. Gerstenfeld explains that there are three categories of this new “overlap” between anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism:  “religious anti-Semitism, or anti-Judaism; nationalist-ethnic (racist) anti-Semitism; and anti-Israelism (anti-Zionism).” One prominent example of this overlap is in cartoons which use caricatures and stereotypes familiar to the everyday person to compare Israel with the Nazis and the Star of David with swastikas.

After this, Gerstenfeld describes the growth of overt anti-Semitism in Arab and Muslim nations. Countries such as Iran, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have explicit anti-Semitic policies and often use their national media outlets to spread false information about Israel. An example Gerstenfeld gives for the current climate of anti-Semitism in the Muslim nations is the “Mahathir Affair.” At the 2003 Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir “portrayed relations between Muslims and Jews as a worldwide direct confrontation.” In his speech, he cited a number of examples of Jewish conspiracy such as promoting “Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them (Jews) would appear to be wrong, so that they might enjoy equal rights with others. “

Gerstenfeld illustrates the surprising growth of anti-Semitism not only in the Middle East, but also in Western nations. From European soccer fields to American college campuses, he reveals the disturbing expansion of anti-Semitism of which many are unaware. Maybe the most important information included in this section is on the increase of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents in the world of academia. In universities across the world, academic freedom is being twisted and perverted to include material that attacks Israel itself as well as the Jewish people. “One is likely to discover from time to time that so-called knowledge taught about the Middle East includes propaganda, sometimes even mixed with hatred,” Gerstenfeld writes.  This is no more clearly seen than in Middle Eastern studies programs in American schools. These programs include misinformation about the nation of Israel and completely overlook Palestinian and Al-Qaeda terrorism. Gerstenfeld cites Martin Kramer’s statements that many academics’ primary goal in these classes is to promote the falsehood that “Zionism is colonialism.”

Author of “The War of a Million Cuts”, Manfred Gertenfeld
While this book is very helpful and informative, a few small issues must be mentioned.  This estimable work is hurt in some places by structure and flow, as it jumps between time periods, areas of the world, and forms of anti-Semitism. The book also suffers from an overuse of surveys, which sometimes bog it down.

Notwithstanding these minor criticisms, the bottom line is this: The War of a Million Cuts is a must-read. Manfred Gerstenfeld has given us an eye-opening work on the continuing growth of anti-Semitism not merely in the Middle East but also in the West. It shatters any belief that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past and educates its readership on the different forms it has now come to take. In particular, Gerstenfeld expertly identifies the increase of anti-Semitism at American universities and how academic freedom is being abused for the purpose of expressing anti-Israeli views. Anti-Semitism must be exposed at all levels, and this book is a large step in accomplishing that goal.

If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.

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Research Articles
and Reports
Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
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Jonathan A. Vogel, Esq.
Jonathan A. Vogel is a partner in McGuireWoods, where he practices in the areas of government investigations and education law.
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