In the first part of our exclusive interview, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld posited that today, well over 150 million Europeans believe that Israel is exterminating the Palestinians. Since the interview was published, Gerstenfeld’s views have been featured in The Times of Israel and a debate has ensued over whether there are really 150 million European anti-Semites or whether the majority of these people are, as Professor Robert Wistrich puts it, merely “idiots.”
In the second part of our interview, Gerstenfeld talks further about the contents of his new book Demonizing Israel and the Jews (available for purchase on Amazon).
HR: The emphasis on Demonizing Israel and the Jews’ introduction which exposes Europe’s massive criminal worldview of Israel, to some extent overshadows the 57 interviews which are the main part of the book. What have you tried to achieve with these interviews?
MG: This is a collection of interviews with Jewish leaders, scholars, experts, politicians, journalists, important figures in Jewish organizations and the like. Together they illustrate how widespread, intense and multifaceted hate-mongering against Israel and the Jews is. The book deals with many countries and disciplines. After reading these interviews, one better understands how the demonic worldview of Israel in Europe has been created. The book is divided into a section with interviews which primarily focus on Israel and another, which mainly addresses classic anti-Semitism.
HR: What countries do most of the interviewees cover?
MG: The interviews deal with more than ten European countries. There are also interviews with Gustavo Perednik on Argentina, Rifat Bali on the uncertain future of Turkey’s Jewish communities, Maurice Roumani about what are attitudes in Libya with respect to its former Jewish community, Zvi Mazel on Egyptian anti-Semitism from Mubarak to Morsi as well as with Mitchell Bard on the powerful Saudi lobby in the United States. There is also an interview with Justus Weiner which discusses how Muslims are driving out Christians from Palestinian territories.
HR: Many of your interviews address various groups of perpetrators of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. What are the main ones?
MG: The greatest hatred of Israel by far comes out of parts of the Muslim world. This could easily fill several books of interviews. In Demonizing Israel and the Jews, interviewees elaborate on some of its aspects. Richard Landes explains how Muslim conspiracy theories affect Jews; Gunther Jikeli addresses Muslim anti-Semitism among European youths; former Chairman of the French umbrella organization CRIF, Richard Prasquier, discusses Muslim anti-Semitism in France.
HR: We at HonestReporting are of course very interested in media bias.
MG: This, like so many other topics in Demonizing Israel and the Jews also merits a book in itself. One interview is with Simon Plosker, Managing Editor of HonestReporting. Another is with Andrea Levin of CAMERA. In a third one, litigation lawyer Trevor Asserson takes the bias of the BBC – as far as reporting about Israel is concerned – largely apart. On a different note, moviemaker Gloria Greenfield tells about her documentary Unmasked Judeophobia and the reactions to it.
HR: Another major source of Israel hatred comes from the extreme Left.
MG: Indeed, this is addressed for instance by Angelo Pezzana who explains how anti-Israel Italians, primarily extreme leftists, abuse Holocaust memory. Simon Epstein discusses 60 years of French intellectual bias against Israel, giving much attention to the Communists. Ken Sikorski analyzes the Finnish scene, including the Socialists.
HR: European Socialists and Social Democrats have also manifested strong anti-Israel attitudes.
MG: The leading Norwegian non-fiction writer, Hanne Nabintu Herland tells about how the “politically correct” hatred of Israel is promoted. She said that the Labor Party plays a major role in turning Norway into the most anti-Semitic country in the West. Ilya Meyer discusses how Sweden’s third largest city Malmo, has become an internationally known hotbed of anti-Semitism. Part of this is due to the previous Labor Party Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, who has made frequent anti-Semitic remarks. Jehudi Kinar, former Israeli Ambassador to Belgium, details anti-Israelism in Belgian socialist parties.
HR: Yet, another source of Israel hatred comes from Christian circles.
MG: Far too little attention is paid to this. This subject also merits a special interview book. Dutch scholar Hans Jansen tells about the deep roots of Protestant anti-Semitism since its founding. His main focus is on church reformer Martin Luther. He also discusses the hateful Kairos document coming out of the part of the Palestinian Christian community. David Parsons explains how one can distinguish between pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli Protestants theologically. Dexter van Zile exposes the anti-Israel politics of the World Council of Churches.
HR: What about terrorism?