The Christian Science Monitor

Why the debate over anti-Semitism is so important

It has set off a full-blown crisis inside Britain’s Labour Party, and the first hints of one inside the Democratic Party in the United States: Anti-Semitism, that oldest of hatreds, is proving to be, as a leading Irish writer and politician once put it, a very light sleeper.

Yet beyond the political ramifications on both sides of the Atlantic, there is also an increasingly acrimonious debate over what is, and isn’t, anti-Semitism – especially when it comes to criticism of Israel. That, in turn, has shifted the spotlight away from the familiar, in-your-face Jew-hatred of the far right and on to left-of-center groups which, with their overt commitment to fighting racism and discrimination, have long insisted that anti-Semitism is a problem for them. 

Anti-Semitism vs. anti-Zionism

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