In this unprecedented work two decades in the making, leading historian Robert S. Wistrich examines the long and ugly history of anti-Semitism, from the first recorded pogrom in 38 BCE to its shocking and widespread resurgence in the present day. As no other book has done before it, A Lethal Obsession reveals the causes behind this shameful and persistent form of hatred and offers a sobering look at how it may shake and reshape the world in years to come.
Here are the fascinating and long-forgotten roots of the “Jewish difference”–the violence that greeted the Jewish Diaspora in first-century Alexandria. Wistrich suggests that the idea of a formless God who passed down a universal moral law to a chosen few deeply disconcerted the pagan world. The early leaders of Christianity increased their strength by painting these “superior” Jews as a cosmic and satanic evil, and by the time of the Crusades, murdering a “Christ killer” had become an act of conscience.
Moving seamlessly through centuries of war and dissidence, A Lethal Obsession powerfully portrays the creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the fateful anti-Semitic tract commissioned by Russia’s tsarist secret police at the end of the nineteenth century–and the prediction by Theodor Herzl, Austrian founder of political Zionism, of eventual disaster for the Jews in Europe.
The twentieth century fulfilled this dark prophecy, with the horrifying ascent of Hitler’s Third Reich. Yet, as Wistrich disturbingly suggests, the end of World War II failed to neutralize the “Judeophobic virus”: Pogroms and prejudice continued in Soviet-controlled territories and in the Arab-Muslim world that would fan flames for new decades of distrust, malice, and violence.
Here, in pointed and devastating detail, is our own world, one in which jihadi terrorists and the radical left blame Israel for all global ills. In his concluding chapters, Wistrich warns of a possible nuclear “Final Solution” at the hands of Iran, a land in which a formerly prosperous Jewish community has declined in both fortunes and freedoms.
Dazzling in scope and erudition, A Lethal Obsession is a riveting masterwork of investigative nonfiction, the definitive work on this unsettling yet essential subject. It is destined to become an indispensable source for any student of world affairs.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad|
|Release Date: 01-05-2010|
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|Publisher: Random House, Inc.||Store Sales Rank: 11626|
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A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad
From Deicide to Genocide
There has been no hatred in Western Christian civilization more persistent and enduring than that directed against the Jews. Though the form and timing that outbursts of anti-Jewish persecution have taken throughout the ages have varied, the basic patterns of prejudice have remained remarkably consistent.1 Particularly striking is the deeply irrational and counterfactual character of most accusations that have been leveled against the Jewish people over the past two thousand years.2 As noted in the introduction, the Jews were charged with deicide (the killing of Christ), with piercing holy communion wafers to make them bleed (desecration of the host), and with the ritual murder of Christian children at Easter; they have been held responsible for poisoning wells and for the Black Death during the Middle Ages; for practicing witchcraft, forging an alliance with the mythical Antichrist, and conspiring to destroy Christendom.3 In modern times, new and no less sinister variations have been added to the theme of the "Jewish peril"-that Jews are striving for world domination by achieving control of the international financial system, by promoting revolutionary socialist ideologies, or through the alleged machinations of Zionism and the State of Israel. Modern anti-Semitism has thrived on irrational Manichean myths such as the Judeo-Masonic, the Judeo-Communist, or Zionist-American conspiracies, and the belief in an occult global Jewish power, embodied in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.4 The litany of stereotypes and accusations seems endless and has acquired a seemingly timeless quality, despite its lack of any empirical basis.
The persistence, longe...