Welcome to Times Will Tell, the weekly podcast from The Times of Israel. In the wake of Operation Guardian of the Walls, late last week, host Amanda Borschel-Dan had a startling conversation with antisemitism scholar Adi Kantor from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.
Kantor is a research associate at the Europe Research Program and in the institute’s ongoing project “Contemporary Antisemitism in the United States.” Her main research fields include right-wing extremism, antisemitism, trauma, identity and intergenerational discourse after 1945.
Kantor offers a disturbing look at the trend of increasing antisemitism that is sweeping the globe from all political and societal echelons.
“We saw in the US in the past four years, which is also the Trump administration, a very alarming rise in antisemitic attacks. This needs to be explained… We see the same tendencies in Europe as well,” said Kantor.
“We’ve been witnessing a very alarming rise of populism and right-wing extremism, white supremacy, across the US… Something has happened. Aggressive attacks are coming — mainly from the right, it’s important to say. But, when you look at campuses, this anti-Israel, anti-Zionist discourse is very, very present in the universities,” she said.
Every country has its own historical baggage in regards to abiding antisemitism, she said, but with increasing migration and globalization, the ebbs and flows of Jew-hatred are not purely dependent on nationality. Likewise, while triggers abound, including times of conflict in Israel, the Jewish state, antisemitism continues independently of current events.
“I would like to make a distinction between the ethnic conflict that is happening between Israelis and Palestinians and antisemitic attacks that are pointed against Jews for the sole fact that they are Jews… There might be a mix-up here when people think that antisemitism is a reaction or an effect of what is happening in the Middle East. This is of course, wrong,” she said.
“Antisemitism is a phenomenon, it is a real pandemic, that has existed in human society for thousands of years. This has begun a lot before the State of Israel in 1948 and a lot before the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has begun,” said Kantor.
Antisemitism is a phenomenon, it is a real pandemic, that has existed in human society for thousands of years
She cautions that in Jew-hatred, the very people who consider themselves liberal and are considerate of the security of minorities have found common ground with those on the opposite end of the spectrum, nationalists.
“I really see how the ends meet when it comes to Jew-hatred. Sometimes they even collaborate — this is unthinkable. They meet when it comes to hatred against Jews and this is what we see across the globe,” said Kantor.
It’s an upsetting conversation, but an important perspective to hear.