The other night my friend, Jewish media guru Steven I. Weiss, asked me to go with him to hear Bernard Henri Levy’s State of World Jewry lecture at the 92nd street Y in Manhattan. Levy can be very entertaining and so I decided to join him for the lecture. Perhaps the most comical part of an otherwise serious presentation came when the French philosopher went on a rant about the transforming face of anti-Semitism. In the medieval period, Christians accused Jews of killing their God, then in the modern period enlightenment thinkers accused Jews of creating the God they wished to kill, then when race came in style, Jews were accused of originating from a deformed race. You get the point. Whatever was the idiom of the day, it eventually became a weapon to use against the Jews.
So it should not come as a surprise in this age of the Internet that anti-Semitism has found a new home to reside in. Recently, the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, announced that Jews should use the Internet to combat anti-Semitism. But Peres’ plea for more Jewish presence on the Internet sounds more like an 88-year-old shooting in the dark than the sharp statesman he is. Just because some medium is “hot” does not mean it’s the most effective way to accomplish one’s goals. As Andre Oblor writing in the Jerusalem Post argues, “It is not enough to tell students and young people to go and “do something technological. Resources need to be dedicated, research needs to be done, and policies need to be developed.”
Peres should be commended for reminding us about the increasing presence of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism on the internet, but he needs to have his ideas more well developed on what exactly it would mean to fight these new demons on the “Internet.”