Special Issue "The Return of Religious Antisemitism?"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gunther Jikeli

College of Arts & Sciences, Indiana University, 107 S Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: antisemitism; prejudices; perceptions of the Holocaust

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Antisemitism has risen again in many countries since the beginning of the 21st century. Jew-hatred and discrimination against Jews have a long tradition both in Christianity and Islam. In the 19th century, animosity against Judaism gave way to nationalistic and racist motives. People like Wilhelm Marr called themselves antisemites to distinguish themselves from those who despised Jews for religious reasons. Today, Jews are often attacked in the name of human rights. They are accused of supporting crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the Jewish State. However, many religious motifs of Jew-hatred, such as the accusation of killing Christ or the accusation of falsifying Islamic scripture, are still relevant today, and perhaps increasingly so in some denominations. Other religious tropes have been secularized, such as the accusation of ritual murder of Christian children that has been transformed into the accusation of purposeful killings of Palestinian children. What role do religious motifs play in the resurgence of antisemitism in the 21st century, be it directly in religious forms, or indirectly in secularized ways?

Papers on case studies on antisemitism within certain denominations or on certain religious motifs will be welcome, as are comparative essays.

Prof. Dr. Gunther Jikeli
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • antisemitism
  • Jew-hatred
  • Judeophobia
  • religious motifs
  • ritual murder
  • deicide
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Islamism

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

From Christian Replacement Theory to ‘Jews Will Not Replace Us.’ Supersessionism

Abstract: Supersessionism—the assertion that Christianity (“true Israel”) replaces Judaism (physical Israel) as heir to the divine covenant—in combination with St. Augustine’s doctrine of witness, according to which the descendants of the deicides were to be preserved but subjugated, shaped medieval policy toward the Jews. It should have ceased to be relevant in the social and political realm after doctrines of toleration and the increasing relegation of the religious to the private realm opened the door to Jewish integration into modern society. It should, finally, have ceased to be relevant theologically by the end of the twentieth century, as the major western Christian denominations repudiated their anti-Judaic teachings. And yet, this article argues: first, that, the legacy of supersessionist thinking continued to play a role in emergent antisemitic thinking and general attitudes toward the Jews, and second, that both metaphorical and literal supersessionist thinking have, regrettably, resurfaced in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including among the churches.

Religiosity, Religious Practice, and Anti-Semitism in Present-Day Hungary

Abstract: The article will analyze two datasets provided by two large-scale surveys (2011 and 2017) on representative national samples of the Hungarian adult population. By using the same questionnaires both surveys measured the strength and tenacity of antisemitic prejudices, and, at the same time, the level of religiosity, forms, and frequency of religious practices, and denominational affiliation of the subjects. In the analysis, we will examine the correlation of these factors and the influence of religiosity, religious practice and affiliation firstly on religious antijudaism and, then, the correlation of the last with secular antisemitism. The main question the article seeks to answer is whether religiosity could be used as an explanatory variable for secular antisemitism in the present-day Hungarian society.

Rethinking the Role of Religion in Arab Antisemitic Discourses

Abstract: “The Palestinian cause is not about land and soil, but it is about faith and belief,” insist Islamists in their attempts to Islamize the Arab-Israeli conflict. This paper examines the instrumentalization of religion in the conflict since its early stages, and its impact on Arab antisemitic discourses. Exploring the Arab and particularly Palestinian media covering major landmarks in the conflict's history, from the  Arab Wailing Wall riots in 1929 up to US president Trump recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, it seeks to establish the role of religion in Arab antisemitism. From preliminary results it seems that despite the intensified exploitation of Islam in the incitement against Israel, Zionism and the Jews, and despite the fact that traditional enmity originating in Islam is an important source of hatred toward the Jews as a group and of antisemitism in the contemporary era, the most common perceptions and arguments derive from a more contemporary vocabulary, modern and exogenous. The question is why, and whether this contention has any implications on the academic discussion on the roots of Arab antisemitism.

Traditionalism, the Alt Right and the Academy: Spiritual Support for Extremism

Abstract: Since the notorious Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 the alt right has surged into prominence as the most visible expression of right wing extremism. While most analysts have focused on the political aspect of the movement, my article will explore the spiritual and religious roots and connections of the movement. In particular I will focus on the links with the Traditionalist School, expressed principally through the influence of Julius Evola on figures such as Richard Spencer, the “founder’ of the alt right, Steve Bannon and Alexander Dugin. I will also revisit Evola’s connection with Mircea Eliade, the most prominent figure in the academic study of the history of religion in the late 20th century and explore other possible connections between Eliade and other scholars of religion and current extreme right thinkers.

Antisemitism in the Muslim Intellectual Discourse in South Asia

Abstract: South Asia (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan) has produced some of the greatest Islamic thinkers, such as Shah Wali Allah (also sometimes spelt Waliullah) (1702-1763), considered one of the originators of pan-Islamism, Rahmatullah Kairanwi (1818-1892), Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), Syed Abul A’la Mawdudi (also spelt Maududi) (1903-1979), and Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (1914-1999), who have all played a pivotal role in shaping political Islam with global impact. Islamism is intertwined with Muslim antisemitism. Some of the greatest Islamist movements have their bases in South Asia, such as Tablīghi Jamā’at- the largest Sunni Muslim revivalist (daw’a) movement in the world and Jamā’at-i-Islāmi – a prototype of political Islam in South Asia. The region is home to some of the most important institutions of Islamic theological studies, Darul Uloom Deoband, the alleged source of ideological inspiration to the Taliban, Nadwātul Ulamā and Firangi Mahal, whose curricula are followed by seminaries across the world attended by South Asian Muslims in their diaspora. Some of the most popular Muslim televangelists have belonged to South Asia, like Israr Ahmed (1932-2010) and Zakir Naik (b. 1965). The paper gives an introductory overview of antisemitism in the Muslim intellectual discourse in South Asia.

National Populism and Religion

Abstract: The development of radical and political nationalistic, anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic actions have become a social reality. Nationalistic, anti-refugee and xenophobic oriented parties have come to power in Hungary and Poland. Similar tendencies are present in Western countries as well, such as Austria, France and Germany. This situation prompts us to ask an important question: what are the ways in which the old, nationalistic ideologies are manifesting themselves now? What parts of societies are especially inclined to support them and why? What is the religious influence on nationalistic - xenophobic attitudes? Have religious institutions played a part in the reanimation of the old nationalistic ideologies, or not? Nationalistic slogans and emotions are related to populist postulates and political decision. Is this nationalistic populism or populist nationalism? The new national egoism and chauvinism relates to skepticism toward the European Union and criticism of humanistic and liberal European values. What are the main arguments and social factors that are responsible for such views? Populist nationalism is mainly based on the manipulations of the feeling of insecurity, concerned with the wave of refugees and the number of migrants coming to Europe. What is the role of the Catholic Church in strengthening these views? Usually, nationalism engenders a collective affirmation and collectivistic attitudes. How is it possible to reconcile such attitudes and views? What sociological and psychological factors can explain such a phenomenon? In post-communist countries and especially in Poland, after Solidarity, there are important questions: what are reasons for the acceptance of the authoritarian and xenophobic rules? What role does anti-Semitism play in this situation? If anti-Semitism is an element of a nationalistic world-view then its structure might be the model for anti-Muslim and anti-Islam attitudes. I draw on my own research from the last 20 years, and on my colleagues’ findings to find some answers to these questions.

Antisemitism in the Islamic State and Its Contribution to Propaganda and Terrorist Activities

Abstract: Anti-Semitism generally plays a major role in the ideology of Islamist groups and in its terrorist offshoots. This article seeks to answer the question whether and to which extent this is also true for the Islamic State (ISIL). It therefore investigates the importance of anti-Semitism as a propaganda theme and as a motivating factor in ISIL terrorist attacks in Western countries based on qualitative and quantitative methods. Using textual analysis, the article evaluates whether anti-Semitism played a central or a marginal role in ISIL’s printed propaganda efforts and whether we can see changes in its importance over time. The article also identifies the central themes and messages of the anti-Semitism propagated by ISIL and investigates their origins, seeking to clarify whether they are inspired by anti-Jewish Islamic scriptures or modern anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The study works primarily with printed source material produced by ISIL, including the magazine Dabiq and the Rome magazine. The article further evaluates the popularity of anti-Semitism among ISIL’s foreign terrorist fighters and perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Western countries, discussing whether anti-Semitism is an important factor for radicalization. It uses open source material to assess whether ISIL terrorists had a history of anti-Semitism. The article makes an important contribution both to the understanding of contemporary, religious anti-Semitism and to that of Islamist radicalization.

Redemptive Islamic Antisemitism. A Perspective from the Netherlands

Abstract: Reports of recent antisemitic incidents in the Netherlands contain all sorts of known antsemitic stereotypes, but what is missing is a recognizable religious framework. According to annual registrations, 'religious antisemitism' is almost absent. From the perspective of a perpetrator, antisemitism usually takes place on the basis of a secular vocabulary, if words are important at all. Yet there are religious discourses at work. This contribution is intended to elucidate the rise of Islamic antisemitism and to specify the concept of Islamic redemptive antisemitism. It will be argued that Islamic antisemitism is a relatively recent phenomenon in the Western European context. This argument will be substantiated by a comparison of the life histories and protest vocabularies of first and second generation migrants, making use of a number of published biographies and autobiographies. Particular attention is paid to the biographies of perpetrators around the turn of the century.

Palestinian Liberation Theology as a Theological-Political Doctrine

Abstract: Christian activism in the Arab-Israeli conflict and theological reflections on the Middle East have evolved around Palestinian liberation theology as a theological-political doctrine that scrutinizes Zionism, the existence of Israel, and its policies, developing a biblical hermeneutics that reverses the biblical narrative for construing Israel as a wicked regime in the name of a fallacious primitive god and false interpretations of the scriptures. The boycott of Israel is consequently endorsed as a means of liberating praxis against what is considered Zionist oppression. This article analyzes the theological political-theological views applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict developed by Geries Khoury, Naim Ateek and Mitri Raheb, three influential authors and activists in different Christians denominations. Besides opposing anti-Zionism and providing arguments for the boycott of Israel, such conceptualisations go far beyond the conflict, providing theological grounds fro the denial of Jewish statehood echoing old anti-Jewish accusations such as Jewish particularism.

What is Islamic about "Muslim Antisemitism"? Turkish-Dutch Trajectories since the 1980s

Abstract: Since 2000 new forms of antisemitism in Western Europe have been attributed to actors identified as “Muslim”, the descendants of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. Antisemitism in these social contexts has often been related to Islam and Muslim identity, regardless of the nature of antisemitic insults or attacks. This article aims to categorize different ways in which cases of what has been called “Muslim antisemitism” in Europe can be related to Islamic religiosity or Muslim identity, in order to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of “Muslim antisemitism”. It is based on an analysis of antisemitic publications and incidents emanating from Turkish-Dutch social contexts from the 1980s up to today, in particular Milli Gorus. Islamic religious reasoning and identification with Islam played very different, and sometimes rather limited, roles in these various cases, suggesting that the meaning of the term "Muslim antisemitism" is not self-evident. The analysis of historical cases shows that in the phenomena identified as “Muslim antisemitism” at least three different elements can be discerned: 1. Islam and Muslims as the community under attack, 2. antisemitic motifs and arguments originating in Islamic religious sources, and 3. Discrimination of Muslim minorities as feeding into “goyish envy” and victimhood competition.


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