The new ‘invisible’ anti-Semitism

The French political scientist Pierre-Andre Taguieff argues that new forms of what he calls judeophobia are more or less invisible, since their proponents are convinced that they themselves are not anti-Semitics, but that «the state of Israel, as a Zionist entity, creates all the problems.» A typical example in Greece, according to an article by academic Andreas Pantazopoulos, was composer Mikis Theodorakis talking in 2003 about «Jews at the root of evil.» (Shortly afterward, Theodorakis tried to rephrase that statement in an interview with Haaretz newspaper, where he eventually claimed that the Jews pushed US President George W. Bush into the war in Iraq and that they controlled global finance. Greek history contains some ugly pages, from the anti-Semitism of the Venizelists who played a leading role in the great fire of Thessaloniki to recent extreme reactions to the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Extreme reactions Some say that the anti-Nazi side is also guilty of extreme reactions. Perhaps there is some awkwardness about how to react to revisionist theories. One example was the imprisonment in Austria of the Holocaust denier historian David Irving, who was forced to make a retraction. Just last Monday, anti-rascists burst in and aborted a talk Irving was to give to students at Oxford. In the case of Costas Plevris’s book, there was much discussion about whether it should go to court. What counted in the end, according to criminologist Avi Nahmias, was that there was no question of the book being withdrawn from circulation, as there is no such provision in Greek law. The book, which has been extensively promoted by LAOS deputy Adonis Georgiadis, does not stand up to serious criticism. The court case arose more from the need for some kind of an official response, to map out just what can and can’t be done in a democracy. What also mattered to those who took legal action was to reactivate the forgotten 1979 law prohibiting racism. The Anti-Nazi Initiative, Human Rights Watch and the Central Jewish Council of Greece (KIS) eventually decided to go to court. And they were vindicated when they found themselves in an unexpected battle. At the first hearing (adjourned until today), the bench was hostile and prosecution witnesses Anna Stai and Irini Koutelou faced the pro-Plevris bias of prosecutor Spyridonas Mouzakitis, who insisted on stressing what he called the scientific character of Plevris’s book. Was he unaware that some of the so-called truths in the book include «biological» characterizations of Kofi Annan and other blacks, Jews, Gypsies and non-Greeks?