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The New Roots of Anti-Semitism

The great irony of Zionism is that it has always justified itself by reprising traditional anti-Semitic cliches about Jewish rootlessness. Yet now that the project has come to be associated with illegal settlements and proposals to annex Palestinian lands, it has become a leading source of anti-Semitism globally.

LJUBLJANA – “We must separate the Jews into two categories, the Zionists and the partisans of assimilation,” wrote Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architects of the Holocaust, in 1935. “The Zionists profess a strictly racial concept and, through emigration to Palestine, they help to build their own Jewish State.…[O]ur good wishes and our official goodwill go with them.”

In Heydrich’s terms, the creation of the State of Israel thus represented the triumph of Zionism over assimilationism. But it also complicated the traditional anti-Semitic perception of Jews as a deracinated, rootless people. This was Martin Heidegger’s view, in 1939, when he called for an examination of “Jewry’s predisposition to planetary criminality”:

“With their marked gift for calculation, the Jews ‘live’ according to the principle of race, and indeed have done so for the longest time, for which reason they themselves most vigorously resist its unrestricted application. The arrangement of racial breeding stems not from ‘life’ itself, but from the hyperempowerment of life by machination (Machenschaft). What this brings about with such planning is a complete deracination of peoples by harnessing them in a uniformly constructed and streamlined arrangement of all entities. Along with deracination goes a self-alienation of peoples – the loss of history – i.e., of the regions of decision for being (Seyn).”