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Book review: 'A Lethal Obsession' by Robert S. Wistrich

A Lethal Obsession: Anti-semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad

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Israel Matzav: A lethal obsession

A heartbreaking irony suffuses "A Lethal Obsession" by Robert S. Wistrich, a history of anti-Semitism by a historian who has devoted his academic career to the study of what he calls "the longest hatred."

At more than 1,000 pages, "A Lethal Obsession" is a kind of of Jew-hatred over the last 20 centuries, from pagan Rome to the clash of civilizations in our own times. Indeed, Wistrich's book demands to be read and considered by anyone who seriously inquires into the reasons why the Jewish people, always so small in number, have attracted such hateful attention over the millenniums.

Professor Robert Wistrich - "A Lethal Obsession" on Vimeo

  • A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad
  • A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad

    For all its scholarly apparatus and sheer heft, however, "A Lethal Obsession" is not an academic monograph. Many of the historical references are hot-wired to the headlines, and Wistrich takes on various contemporary figures: from former President Carter to onetime Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to controversial public intellectual Noam Chomsky to Norman Finkelstein, author of a hateful piece of revisionism titled "The Holocaust Industry." The bulk of the book, in fact, is devoted to manifestations of anti-Semitism in the postwar era, and much of what Wistrich has to say must be called opinion rather than analysis, as when he dismisses such counterculture figures as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman as " 'Jewish radicals' without any Jewish identity or commitment."

    For all its scholarly apparatus and sheer heft, however, "A Lethal Obsession" is not an academic monograph. Many of the historical references are hot-wired to the headlines, and Wistrich takes on various contemporary figures: from former President Carter to onetime Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to controversial public intellectual Noam Chomsky to Norman Finkelstein, author of a hateful piece of revisionism titled "The Holocaust Industry." The bulk of the book, in fact, is devoted to manifestations of anti-Semitism in the postwar era, and much of what Wistrich has to say must be called opinion rather than analysis, as when he dismisses such counterculture figures as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman as " 'Jewish radicals' without any Jewish identity or commitment."