Entries in the 'Israel Today' Category

“What Will Prevent a Civil War” (Times of Israel)

Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “What Will Prevent a Civil War
The tumultuous protests against the planned reforms to Israel’s judicial system seem to be tearing Israeli society apart. Prominent newspapers around the world have not only reported the plan to reform Israel’s justice system, but have actually taken sides. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times urged President Biden to take action against an Israeli government that is “hostile to American values.” At the same time, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial titled “Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?” and argued that it is actually Israel’s supreme court that poses the greatest risk to Israel’s democracy.

Indeed, I think there is truly an ideological war here. There are many entities involved, each with its own interest and benefits it wants to procure, but the result might be the division of the country. I think that we are truly in a precarious situation.

I do not think there is any nation more divided than the Jewish nation. When we consider what the struggle is about, the picture becomes even more confusing, since the parties are fighting over ideologies that have nothing to do with the tradition of the Jewish people. Different factions of the nation have adopted different ideologies from other nations, and now they are fighting for them as if they have been their core values since the inception of our nation. It is as if we have taken up ideological wars that were fought in the 19th and 20th centuries, and we are continuing the fight in the 21st century although neither ideology authentically belongs to the Jewish people.

And what is even worse, we are fighting for those ideologies against people from our own nation. In doing so, we are not only deepening the divide within the nation, but we are destroying the one ideology that is authentically ours: love of others above all the differences.

There is a good reason that we tend to adopt social ideologies from around the world. As a nation that has taken upon itself to do Tikkun Olam [correction of the world], it is inherently Jewish to take up all the ills of the world and cover them with a blanket of love for others. This is why we came up with such notions that we must love our neighbor as ourselves, build a society based on mutual responsibility, and unite with one another “as one man with one heart.”

However, if we are unaware of our task, then we still “catch” ideas from around the world, but we do not cover them with love, we do not correct them. As a result, we fight over these ideologies, hate each other for them, but nothing good comes out of it. If this modus operandi continues, the Jewish state, which was established to correct the world, will fall to pieces.

The Jewish people are no stranger to civil wars. In antiquity, we had had several of them, and the worst of which sent us into an exile that had lasted nearly two millennia. When Jews believe in something, they will fight to the death for it, very literally. They do not care who they have to face to make their view prevail, and do not think about the cost. The fact that they might lose the country altogether is no cause for them to stop. At such moments, it is either my way, or no way at all.

The problem here is not so much the destruction of the Jewish state, as it is the postponement of the correction of the world. Without understanding that we must set an example of rising above differences and forging love despite any disagreement, the whole world will not be able to advance toward it.

The hidden reason behind today’s growing antagonism toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with the stated cause of ostensible infringement of Palestinian human rights. The real reason is that the Jews are not doing what they are supposed to do. If they do not serve as an example of unity above hatred, of bridging differences with love, the world has no need for them, and certainly not for a Jewish state.

Even though this anger is unconscious, it is the driving force behind the growing hatred of Jews around the world. The ephemeral pretexts are just that, pretexts, but the reason for hating us is that we hate each other and cannot overcome it. Therefore, the only thing that can prevent a civil war is that we understand what Jews are meant to do, and resolutely follow our vocation.

“Attendance Is Mandatory” (Times of Israel)

Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Attendance Is Mandatory

“Attendance Is Mandatory” may sound like the beginning of a post about school attendance, but it is not; it is a post about compulsory indoctrination at universities in Israel. On Sunday, at an academic convention at Haifa University, Israel, a new book was presented: Islam Is the Solution. The author of the book is none other than Abdullah Nimar Darwish, who founded the Islamic Movement in Israel, was convicted of terrorism, and served jail time in Israeli prison. One of the university professors declared that the status of the lecture is “attendance is mandatory,” and demanded that the students participate actively in this “important discussion.”

The university’s formal explanation was that the lecture is an academic event in every sense of the word. Despite the fact that the book and the lecture present terrorists as victims and Israelis, not Israeli soldiers, but all Israelis, as abusive oppressors, the university declared that it is tantamount to any other reading material.

Could the situation have been the reverse? Could a Zionist activist, convicted of terrorism against Palestinians, be invited to speak at Birzeit University near Ramallah (the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority)? Never in a million years, and rightly so; it makes no sense to invite an avowed enemy to speak to young people in your country and influence their pliable minds.

All over the world, universities determine their agendas according to their donors’ identity. When their prime donors are anti-Israel, such as the case with many universities in the US and the UK, the schools’ curricula reflect this view. But in Israel, where universities are heavily subsidized by the Israeli government, promoting an anti-Israel agenda simply makes no sense. I understand that in this way, these academic institutions are trying to show the world that they are democratic and offer equal opportunities to everyone, but I do not think that endorsing explicitly anti-Israel speakers is appropriate.

I am all for freedom of expression, and I think there should be no oppression of any person or opinion. However, academia should be a place where people learn skills and professions, not where they are brainwashed.

I am not saying that it is easy to teach history, civics, philosophy, and other courses in humanities, liberal arts, and social science without exposing one’s political leaning, but this should certainly be the goal. This should be the official policy of the state, the official policy of the university, certainly with state-funded universities, and professors and lecturers should aspire to abide by it, with the help of rigorous monitoring by university staff. The fact that today’s lecturers and today’s curricula are far more politically biased, in some cases even blatantly so, means that politicizing a course is a trend, and trends can be reversed.

There is, however, one subject that should be taught without any restraints or fetters: connection and mutual care among people. The world we see today reflects the tensions and enmities that pervade society. The reason so much of today’s schooling is political is that the aspiration to enforce one’s view on all of society has intensified in everyone, making previously non-political discussions heated and hate-filled disputes over governance and government, where each side believes that the other side is not only wrong, but that its view is an existential threat and should be treated as such.

As a counterweight to this trend, we must teach—and this is the most important lesson all of us should learn if we want to survive—that we have no other choice but to learn to care about each other. Israel is not the United States. If we are not united, we will not survive. If we are united, we will have no enemies. In my opinion, “Unity First” should be a mandatory course in every faculty, discipline, and major in academia.

“The Rabbis’ Letter against the new government is a big deal over nothing” (Times of Israel)

Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “The Rabbis’ Letter against the new government is a big deal over nothing

As the new Israeli government was taking shape, an open letter titled A Call to Action began to circulate among American Jewish communities. The signatories, some of whom are prominent figures in American Jewry, pledged “to not invite any members of the RZP [Religious Zionist Party] … to speak at our congregations and organizations. We will speak out against their participation in other fora across our communities. We will encourage the boards of our congregations and organizations to join us in this protest as a demonstration of our commitment to our Jewish and democratic values.”

This letter is worth mentioning only because it is a good reminder for Israelis what American Jewry thinks of Israel. The letter exposes the simple truth that the majority of American Jewry, not all, but certainly a substantial majority among them, oppose Jews being in Israel, and oppose the State of Israel altogether. From their perspective, it would be best if Israel did not exist.

I understand why they need to speak out. First of all, if they keep quiet, it is as if they do not exist, so they need to make some noise. Second, by and large, American Jewry has one goal in mind: to make its stay in the US as safe and serene as possible. Since the world sees Jews as connected all over the world, American Jewry finds itself having to explain the position of the State of Israel, and it makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Because they feel that the existence of Israel risks their own safety in the US, they do not want Israel to exist, certainly not as a Jewish, Zionist entity.

Israel’s Judiciary: Reform or Ruin?

Lucky for Israel, it is not in any way dependent on American Jewry. The money they donate will not be missed if it stops flowing; Israel is strong enough without it. The lobbying they do for Israel has also not been there for us for many years, and Israel’s strength lies elsewhere today. Therefore, I do not think that Israel should mind at all what Jewish congregations in America think about Israel.

The interests that shape Israel’s position in the world are far more comprehensive than our relationship with this or that denomination in American Jewry. Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and Iran all take part in the map of interests, and Israel is much more powerful than it used to be, both on the military end and on the economic end.

In fact, even if the US would, for some reason, stop providing military and economic aid to Israel, it would not hurt Israel’s position or harm it economically or otherwise. I do not see such a scenario unfolding, but just to give some perspective as to how independent Israel has become, it is good to remember that we are standing on our own two feet today.

The new government that has just been sworn in is rife with experienced people, who know what they want and how to achieve it, and despite some newspapers’ attempts to portray the new government as a disaster in the making, the majority of the people in Israel feel more confident now than under the previous government.

Yet, above and beyond all the political arguments, the main problem that severs American Jewry from Israel and from Israelis is the simple truth that there is hatred between us. It is fine not to agree. There are arguments in every nation, and some people even choose to leave their country because they disagree with the policy of their government. However, no Chinese in exile and no Iraqi who has fled his country’s regime would want their country to stop existing altogether. This aspiration is uniquely Jewish, and stems from our total hatred for each other, what we Jews know as sinaat hinam (hatred without cause).

If we could overcome that hatred, we would be able to overcome every disagreement. Since we do not want to even admit that our hatred for each other is so deep, we have no chance of curing it. Specifically for the people of Israel, sinaat hinam is an unforgivable sin, the root cause of all the torments that the nations of the world have inflicted on us throughout the generations.

If we tried to love one another, we would not have to hate each other in politics; we would not feel we must appease the nations, and the world would not hate us. When humanity looks at us, it sees our hatred for each other, and seeing it makes them hate us to the core, to the point where they do not want our existence in this world.

“What is Israel’s side of the story?” (Quora)

Dr. Michael LaitmanMichael Laitman, On Quora: What is Israel’s side of the story?

Recently, at a border crossing in Huwara, a large town South of Nablus, a Palestinian terrorist was shot dead by an Israeli border police officer during a struggle after the terrorist tried to steal the officer’s weapon. The event was filmed, distributed on social media and presented as the execution of a Palestinian. Israel was condemned for the act by the United Nations, America and others, and it once again awakened the question as to whether others will see Israel’s side of the story. That is, the officer acted in order to protect his own life and the life of others, and it is also written in the Torah that if a person comes to kill you, you need to kill them first.

That others will see Israel’s side of this story depends solely on whether we Jews act out of a common unification toward each other, above our differences. The world will then shift its attitude toward Israel from negative to positive, i.e. to a people who bring peace and love to humanity. As much as we behave as a divided people, then the world will likewise feel that we bring sorrow and torment to the world—and they will continue viewing us in a negative light.

Israel is held to completely different standards than any other nation because there is more of a demand upon Israel than on any other nation. We initially became the people of Israel when we followed Abraham’s guidance and reached a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.” Attaining a state of a common love toward each other is a law that we need to abide by in order to realize what we need to do in the world. After we implement this law among our own connections, we will then be able to love others too, and then they will also love us in return.

It acts like a chain, and the first link of that chain is love for our fellow people here—among the people of Israel. If we reach a state where we positively connect to each other above our differences, we will then positively influence the rest of the world. Other nations will then gain an ability to positively connect, and then they will understand that Israel grants them this ability. We will then become treated contrarily to how we are treated today: as bringers of peace. Humanity’s good or bad future rests in how the people of Israel will attune their attitudes toward each other.

Based on the video “When Will People See Israel’s Side of the Story?” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Oren Levi. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.

“Israel Needs a Government of Tough but Equal Love”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom my Facebook page Michael Laitman 12/29/22

Today, December 29, 2022, is the first day of a new government in Israel. The past year has been horrific for Israel: Thirty Israelis were murdered by terrorists, far more than in previous years, inflation has risen, Israel’s international status has plummeted, teachers are quitting the education system in droves and no one is replacing them, division is spreading—between religious and secular, progressives and conservatives—and this is a very partial list.
Clearly, the new government will have a lot of fixing up to do.
The worst problem is that the outgoing government has given the feeling that no one is at the helm, and anyone can do whatever he or she wants. Not only has crime risen, but the audacity of criminals is beyond belief, committing crimes in broad daylight without even trying to hide their identity. The main problem, therefore, is one of governability, or rather, the lack thereof.
Accordingly, before anything else, the new government must make people realize that there is a new government in place, and it will not tolerate what the previous government tolerated. Deterrence must be elevated to much higher levels than the current one because at the moment, there isn’t any. When there is high deterrence, there are fewer crimes, less pressure on police, and as a result, better policing. If I had to sum up the new government’s task in two words, they would be law and order, and to that I might add, with a firm hand.
Yet, for all its significance, there is something that is just as important, yet totally ignored, but which the incoming government must develop: the one value that everyone avoids—national unity. In today’s Israel, everyone is busy proving that they are right and everyone else is wrong. The result is that no one is convinced, and everyone becomes more entrenched in their positions and adds hatred to their conviction. In such a state, any attempt to remedy the situation in Israel is hopeless from the get go.
The deepening division in Israeli society is not just another problem that the new government needs to tackle; it is the root cause of all the problems. Every single crisis that is currently affecting the lives of Israelis will vanish if there is a strong sense of social cohesion in Israel.
When there is mutual concern, there is no poverty. When there is cohesion, there is no division, and certainly no crime. When there are solidarity and unity, Israel’s military deterrence increases manyfold. Education will become better and more evenly dispersed when people care not only about their children’s schools but also about the Israeli education system as a whole.
When a government works to improve social cohesion and the well-being of the entire nation, rather than the current state where parties are concerned only with the sector that elected them, it is much easier to unite the people behind it. However, for this to happen, unity must be openly on the table as a top priority agenda item in the most important meetings: the ones where budgets are decided and laws are formulated.
Every nation has something called “national identity.” Israel’s must be “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the motto we had given to the world in antiquity, and we were commanded to live it out, to set an example. Love of others is the basis of our nation precisely because we emerged from alienation and hostility, and merited the status of a nation only once we triumphed over them. These days, when we are divided and hateful once again, we do not deserve the title, “nation.”
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the incoming government, and stress that it must show a firm hand and establish law and order, but not in order to oppress political rivals, but in order to be able to instill education toward unity, mutual responsibility, and concern for one another.

An Unusual Country

600.02Comment: Israeli medicine is one of the best in the world, but at the same time it is in a big standstill concerning the detection of diseases.

My Response: This is a big problem. In Israel, they don’t treat you until you begin to die, but they will not let you die. The approach is this: You are left to manage your health, but as soon as you become very ill, then they start to take you seriously.

You can’t do anything; this is a problematic country. Here medicine is private, public, and divided into all sorts of levels. The country cannot get over itself. And it won’t!

This is not an ordinary country. It will become a normal society only when it strives for connection—not human, but spiritual. That is when it will be able to build all its levels, all its systems, in the right way. Otherwise, it will be a bad example to all mankind. Nothing good will happen here.

You won’t see Jewish brains working properly here. You won’t see any achievements here that are beneficial. It is because it doesn’t work in the direction of our purpose. I see it very concretely and explicitly.

People wonder why, and they don’t understand why. We will always demonstrate a negative example until we begin to show humanity another example—connection.

As soon as everything is aimed, first, at uniting everyone into one single nation and the conditions of support, brotherhood, and mutual guarantee are fulfilled, then at this level we will be able to work miracles and show the whole world that it is based on unity that any amazing success is achieved, and all problems, any crises, are solved. But without connection, not.

We must give humanity a good example, and if not, it will always be bad. Such is fate.
From KabTV’s “I Got a Call. Israeli Medicine” 12/7/13

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“Israeli Police Resigning in Droves” (Times of Israel)

Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Israeli Police Resigning in Droves

One of my students told me about a major problem with police officers in Israel, that they are resigning in droves. It used to be an honorable position in Israeli society, but today they face more workloads and responsibilities while their income remains very low, even below the average wage.

Police officers in Israel become increasingly accused of power abuses and even face several instances of legal prosecution. For instance, when an Israeli border police officer who neutralizes a terrorist has to testify as a suspect, then he naturally feels betrayed by his country, and that he would be better off getting another job that would pay him more.

It is wrong for police to be so underpaid and unprotected. They should receive protection from their country, and get paid more than any other profession because they regularly have to deal with society’s ills. When I was in Switzerland around 15 years ago, I had a conversation with a police officer who told me that their average starting salary was a relatively hefty 8,000 euros a month, because it is indeed a complicated job to acquire and to sustain. Also, Israel is no Switzerland in terms of the additional risks that police officers face here.

Therefore, police need respect from the government, acknowledging the necessity and importance of their work to society, and they should always feel that society stands up for them. We need to raise their salary, revise the rules of their use of force, and give them a little more freedom. If we recruit and strengthen a good number of police officers, then Israel would be different. They should feel that people have their back, and the people should feel how the police protect them.
Based on the video “Israeli Police Resigning in Droves – A Kabbalist’s Response” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Semion Vinokur. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.

“Symbols of Tradition Becoming Symbols of Disobedience” (Times of Israel)

Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Symbols of Tradition Becoming Symbols of Disobedience

Traditional and religious holidays in Israel are usually times of national unity. These days, Israel is celebrating Hanukkah, a holiday whose essence is the triumph of the Jewish spirit of unity over the Hellenistic spirit of exalting the self. Yet, precisely now, prominent elements in Israel’s society, including the (still) incumbent prime minister, are calling for civil disobedience to protest the policy of the newly elected government before it has even been sworn in, and they are doing it by advancing displays of Christian symbols instead of, or more conspicuously than the Hanukkah Menorah. Despite being a primarily political initiative, this disobedience symbolizes the level of division spreading in the nation, and a divided Israel is a short-lived Israel.

Not only politicians and opinion leaders are pushing for prominence of Christian symbols over Hanukkah symbols in Israel. Santa Claus, elves, deer, and of course, the Christmas tree can be seen in some shopping malls in Israel, and no trace of the Menorah. Universities also place large Christmas trees at the entrance to some of the buildings, either with a small Menorah next to it, or with none at all. Even the Tel-Aviv municipality has asked visitors to its Facebook page which holiday they like better, Christmas or Hanukkah.

Having different political agendas and maintaining diversity of views are the essence of democracy. It is a precondition for the advancement and development of society. Countries that maintain diverse opinions thrive, while countries that allow only one narrative to dominate, whether from the Right or from the Left, become degenerate and sink.

In the case of Israel, diversity is not only a matter of evolution or devolution. For Israel, smothering diversity poses an existential threat.

The essence of the Israeli nation is unity above diversity. The ancient Israelites came from many nations, held different ideas about everything, and were very adamant people. When they came across Abraham’s teachings (or those of his descendants Isaac and Jacob), they learned that if they do not suppress other people’s views, but unite with them despite the differences, they form a bond that makes them stronger and wiser than any biological nation. When enough people had adopted that principle of uniting without suppressing disputes and disagreements, they became a nation, the nation of Israel.

When they were united, their differences complemented one another creating a tapestry of views that did not exist in any other nation. The unity that they had had to form in order to maintain their nationhood above such diversity had to be that much stronger than any other nation.

Nature, too, consists of complementary opposites; this is what makes creation harmonious and evolving. When the people of Israel were united, they were just like the rest of nature, harmonious and evolving, and that was the secret of the success of the ancient Israeli nation.

But when the people of Israel were not united, they immediately split back into the many nations from which they came. This is why when Israel are divided, they strive to assimilate among the nations and not remain Israelis or even Jewish.

However, Israel cannot afford to lose its unity and vanish altogether. The whole purpose of the existence of the Israeli nation is to demonstrate that unity above division is possible, and that it creates a thriving society. If people do not realize that diversity must be nurtured and embraced, they will be embroiled in eternal conflicts, and humanity will destroy itself.

If Israel does not practice unity above division, it disintegrates. At that time, the world hates the Jews for advancing conflict instead of peace. However, it does not blame us because we pit countries against each other, but because the fact that we do not present an alternative to conflict forces the world to engage in the only solution it sees: eternal war. And it blames Israel for it.

Only when Israelis learn that their challengers from within are not their enemies, but their partners to the task of setting an example, they will be able to unite above their contradictions. Until then, Israel and the world can only expect strife and conflict to keep building up.*

*For more on this topic, read my books The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, and Like a Bundle of Reeds.

Why Is It Hard for Westerners to Settle in Israel

419Question: Why is it very difficult for Europeans and representatives of Western civilization in general to be absorbed in Israel?

Answer: The cultures are different. Israel is an Eastern European, not a Western culture. After all, the principle of Jewish life—collectivism, mutual responsibility, mutual empathy—has nothing to do with the European, and even more so with the American way of life.

Of course, we can live and prosper there, but to truly adapt to their society, to feel comfortable in it, we cannot. However, people who settle there, the second or third generation, find it very difficult to settle here – they must go through a period of adaptation again. Therefore, they create their own communities.

In addition, the language, local culture, and local relations are quite warped here. After all, Israel is a very peculiar country, with a huge bureaucracy, security problems, and uncorrected “collective farm” that came in large numbers from all countries and cannot unite and melt into a single whole.

Of course, for Westerners who come from complete comfort, leaving huge villas, swimming pools, and everything else, European culture, which they were hooked on and which they consider to be the greatest and most advanced, it is very difficult here.

So, I understand them, but they have nowhere to go. They can go to other countries, but I do not see much of a future for them there. European Jewry has no future. This is the gradual development of Nazism, which will put more and more pressure on them.

As we know from the experience of Germany, Jews can live there until the very last moment, and then also justify their persecutors. History repeats itself. It will not be different in Europe this time.

And in America too. It is just that America is too big, too divided, and too layered. But even there mutual hatred will rise because seven to eight million Jews have settled between Latin Americans, African Americans, and Europeans and they are like a bone in their throat. The little bone in the throat still feels bigger than anything else.

Therefore, everything is going to escalate because it is through aggravation that we can solve this problem, that is, realize why such hatred arises.

In past centuries this problem also existed, but it was not recognized. First, there were religious conditions for it, then financial ones. Even though they still exist today, in principle, humanity should clarify everything for itself. This is an eternal problem that will not go away.

We, the Kabbalists, must spread our vision. As a result, sooner or later the world will know the reason for such relationships and what they lead to.
From KabTV’s “I Got a Call. Moving to Israel” 12/7/13

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“Israeli Sports Reporters Face the Harsh Reality” (Times of Israel)

Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Israeli Sports Reporters Face the Harsh Reality

The reports about soccer matches in the World Cup in Qatar, in which Team Israel is not participating, continue to captivate the many soccer fans in Israel. But other reports from Qatar are getting the attention of all the Israelis without exception: documentations of Israeli reporters facing hostile Arabs, both locals and tourists from other Arab countries. In some cases, the hostility became so intimidating that reporters felt compelled to hide their Israeli identity. In another case, a non-Israeli reporter was verbally attacked and nearly physically struck because someone in the crowd mistook him for an Israeli and announced it to his friends.

Indeed, there is an anti-Israel obsession among many Arabs. Despite the Abraham Accords that established “normalization” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, hatred toward Israel and Jews has not subsided in the Arab world, not in the least.

Even if Israel signs a peace treaty with Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, I believe that Israel’s position in the world in general, and in the Arab world in particular, will continue to deteriorate. To improve Israel’s status, it must earn the change. If Israel is worthy, the change will happen with or without agreements. If it is unworthy, no piece of paper will change Israel’s status, and it will remain a pariah.

Israel’s problems are not external, but internal. We cannot live with one another like fellow countryfolk. We keep trying to trip, fail, use, and abuse one another and division is gnawing on us from within. This is what I mean by “unworthy.”

The world operates according to certain laws. If we break them, we suffer the consequences. One of the pivotal laws by which the world operates says that Israel must set an example of solidarity and cohesion. Israel must display a model society. If Israel presents social cohesion, everyone will respect it and establish good relations with it.

Currently, as division and derision reign supreme here in the land that we have made unholy, Israel is setting the opposite example. This is why the world says that we have no place here. If, on the other hand, we become a beacon of unity and solidarity, the world will recognize Israel as our rightful place and appreciate the example we are giving to the world.*

‎*For elaborated explanations on the causes, history, and solution to antisemitism, see ‎my books The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism, and my ‎latest publication, New ‎Antisemitism: Mutation of a Long-lived Hatred.‎