This well-edited volume contains selected thought provoking articles by Ben Cohen, written in this century. His subject matter are the crude, violent “Bierkeller” anti-Semitism and the polite, modulated, ostensibly reasonable anti-Semitism, called nowadays “anti-Zionism”, so often expressed in the “progressive” camp…
Ben Cohen is not making sweeping judgments about the left, but he calls a spade a spade and does not spare the spiritual rod from those who engage in any form of anti-Semitism.
There is a foreword by Anthony Julius, a lawyer, who successfully defended Deborah Lipstadt sued by the Holocaust denier and anti-Semite David Irving and well known as a writer and intellectual. Julius asks if one can be like Ben Cohen an advocate of Israel’s cause and a commentator on the Middle East scene and resumes: „Notwithstanding the heat of the presentation, the urgency and the passion of the argument, truth has to be given its due. Ben Cohen meets that test.”
Ben Cohen’s book consists of the following chapters: “The UK, Jews and Israel; the Middle East and Israel in Context; Chapter Three: BDS – anti-Zionism in action; Anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism; The US and Israel; On Islamism and Iran and a valuable Index.
In an obituary about the distinguished academic and prolific author Norman Geras, his former student Cohen wrote: “Norm gently chided Rosa Luxemburg for her declaration that she had “…no special corner of my heart reserved for the ghetto.” “A Jewish socialist ought to be able to find some special corner of his or her heart for the tragedy of the Jewish people. A universalist ethic shorn of any special concern for the sufferings of one’s own would be the less persuasive for such carelessness.”
In “Orbán whitewashes Hungarian Antisemitism” Cohen quotes the statement released after Orbán’s speech at the Budapest meeting (May 5, 2913) of the World Jewish Conference: “Mr. Orbán did not address any recent antisemitic or racist incidents in the country, nor did he provide sufficient reassurance that a clear line has been drawn between his government and the far-right fringe.”
Ben Cohen comment is on the spot: “Ultimately, the WJC wanted something from Orbán that he wasn’t prepared to give them; not just an abstract statement that “antisemitism is unacceptable and intolerable,” but a concrete undertaking to eradicate it from Hungarian politics.”
Ben Cohen’s articles are brilliantly written and of great analytical penetration based on extensive reading. This highly readably book is full of information. Friends and enemies of the democratic and Jewish state can read it with profit.
Ben Cohen: Some of my best friends / A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism, Edition Critic, Berlin 2014, 230 pages, Euro 18,00, Order?