Anti-Semitism: The Longest Hatred by Robert Wistrich (Thames Methuen, £16.99) Graham Jenkins
THIS book may be called the companion to the Thames Television series The I.ongest Hatred.
The whole history of racial hatred and harassment is astonishing and appalling, but the Jew-baiting process has become the longest hatred of all continuing through to the present day. It also has another unusual angle, in that its source is both religious and secular.
Religious hatred and persecution of Jews and Judaism stems from Christianity and Islam. In certain centuries the two worked side by side, if not together. The anti-semitism of the secular drains seeped from nationalism, politics, and deranged but powerful megalomaniacs.
One, i.e Pen, of the National Front in France, could say in 1987, that the Gas chambers were "merely a detail in the history of the second World War".
The whole book is a deep analytical study of antisemitism in all its forms. In the countries where it has been more prolific the situation is well described, in detail and perpetrators named. The pseudo-religious background of antisemitism is more complicated, because here we not only have invented theological hate-mongering but also, mass-fantasies leading to further mass killings. As an example the "ritual murders" which spread throughout Europe around about 1400, a mythical story that captured the imagination of thousands of Christians leading to wholesale murder of Jews.
This book is enlightening on many points. It is also a first rate reference on so many aspects of antisemitism, and there are many illustrations that convey the horrors of the past.