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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: December 2009

Preface

Summary

Like most scholarly inquiry, this book wants to contribute to our understanding of questions that extend beyond its immediate remit. To indicate where I think the wider implications of this book lie, and to make it easier for the reader to understand my approach, I want to begin by explaining what the bigger questions were that guided me while undertaking the research for this book and trying to make sense of my findings.

Any attempt to gauge and interpret current expressions of antisemitism, and to determine how best to contain and oppose them, is invariably to a considerable degree dependent on our notions of historical precedent. Some of the most urgent and controversial relevant issues are currently these: is the antisemitism of Islamicist and Jihadic ideology inherent in its traditional roots and sources or ultimately an import from the ideological arsenal of Western modernity? Is the political Left in the West responding adequately to contemporary antisemitism? To what extent is its response indicative of an already established tradition of problematic dealings with antisemitism and ‘the Jews’? To be sure, comparison with antisemitism's historical track record and past attempts to counter it are not our only means of assessing current risks and realities and determining suitable strategies to confront them. It is obvious, though, that historical precedent will always play a prominent role in this process.