Nov 23: Esther Webman

Arab Antisemitic Discourse – Importation, Internalization and Recycling

Anti-Semitism is not the root cause of the Arab Israeli conflict, but it exacerbated it, and poses a major obstacle to genuine reconciliation and mutual recognition between Arabs and Israelis. While borrowing themes from Western antisemitism, the sources and motivation of Arab-Islamic antisemitism were indigenous, stemming from religious and nationalist sentiments, thereby producing a unique symbiosis of Christian and Islamic as well as of motifs from the repository of racist and political anti-Semitism. Although the waves of antisemitism escalate and recede in relations to political events and developments, antisemitism in the Arab world is increasingly becoming a constant in Arab thought and it is linked, as in other places in the world, to broader processes, which affect Arab societies.

This lecture will analyze the major contours of Arab antisemitism particularly in recent years, and in view of the recent developments in the Middle East. A special emphasis will be given to the ideologies and activities of Islamic movements.

Dr. Esther Webman is senior research fellow at The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism and at The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. She has published the study From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust (with Meir Litvak) and recently edited the reader The Global Impact of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: a Century-Old Myth.

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Nov 30: Kenan Malik

Left, right and Islamism

Since 9/11 there have been two main responses to the threat of Islamism. For some, mainly on the right, the problem lies in Islam itself and in a clash of civilizations. There have been strident calls for an end to Muslim immigration, further erosion of civil liberties and more unfettered wars abroad. For others, mostly on the left, Islamism is an expression of genuine anger, both at Western attacks on Muslim countries and discrimination against Muslims at home. Viewing the world through the lens not of the clash of civilizations but of multiculturalism, such critics seek to accommodate to religious and cultural differences and to appease Islamist fears. Kenan Malik looks at the failures of both approaches and at their dangerous consequences. He also looks at how best to tackle the problem of Islamism.

Kenan Malik is Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey and author of numerous books, essays an TV features. His most recent publication, From Fatwa to Jihad: the Rushdie Affair and its Legacy (London 2009) deals with the failure of Western Liberals in the struggle against Islamism.

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