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The World’s Oldest Sickness

Posted on June 7 2010 12:52 pm
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by David Solway

The world is sick again with an old disease for which no cure has ever been found. It tends to go into remission here and there at various times but it invariably reappears, as virulent as ever, developing new strains as the bacillus adapts to the antibiotics of reason, shame or distraction. The disease is called anti-Semitism and it can afflict even those who would seem best prepared to resist it. Few are immune.

It can assume racial forms, the Jew regarded as a quasi-human deformity, as rodent, monkey or untermensch. International jurist Jacques Gautier, who finds it “shameful” that under the dispensation of the Human Rights community it is understood that Arabs will have legal and political rights in Israel while it is accepted that Arab countries can be judenrein, concludes that Jews do not enjoy human rights because they are not reckoned as human. Why extend the norms and principles that presumably govern human behavior and the relations between states to a people and a state tacitly considered as beyond the pale, as not quite “like us”? This is how double standards are implicitly justified. Judaism has also been condemned as a cultural and economic perversion that contorts the structure of society. This is a very old story. Indeed, whatever manifestation it assumes, anti-Semitism has been with us almost as far back as human memory goes. What historian Robert Wistrich has called the world’s longest hatred is also the world’s oldest sickness.

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