NORMAN — An internationally known scholar of Jewish studies said anti-Semitism is not new, but the ways in which this type of bigotry is being spread throughout the world has evolved over the past decade.
Alvin H. Rosenfeld, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism, shared some of the forms that anti-Semitism has recently taken during a lecture Monday at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History on the University of Oklahoma campus.
About 75 people attended the lecture hosted by Stephen H. Norwood, a professor of Judaic Studies and United States history at OU. Norwood said Rosenfield is the Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University, author of numerous books and articles, served a five-year presidential appointment on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and currently serves on the museum's executive committee.
Rosenfeld opened by citing a spate of anti-Semitic occurrences that occurred in 2009:
• An 88-year-old white supremacist and known Holocaust denier killed a security guard at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2009.
• A man killed a Wesleyan University student at a bookstore and threatened to kill other students and Jews.
• The FBI thwarted a plan by several new Muslim converts to blow up two Jewish synagogues in New York.
Rosenfeld said a common link to these otherwise separate events was they were based on the premise that violence against Jewish people is OK.
He said this type of thought process has been spreading on a global scale so that it has been characterized as “the rise of the ‘new' anti-Semitism.”
He said the hatred is bleeding out into the acceptable mainstream which should concern everyone.
Rosenfeld said several things have led to this “new anti-Semitism,” most notably the exponential range of the Internet.
“Jew hatred has been globalized and leaps effortlessly across borders mainly due to the Internet and global media. With the press of a computer key, it can be distributed,” he said.
Also, Rosenfeld said the nature of Jew-bashing has changed, evolving from accusations of water well tainting of medieval times to more modern-day finger-pointing of contaminating the atmosphere or DNA.