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One of the true gedolim, a scholar and leader in fighting antisemitism

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In everything Manfred Gerstenfeld wrote, he sought actively to oppose antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism, and to rally Jewish opinion and institutions against them. (Screenshot: Unmasked Judeophobia)

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The Jewish People, and the community of scholars actively engaged in studying and countering contemporary antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism, have lost a great hero and friend.   Manfred Gerstenfeld, the dean of contemporary antisemitism scholarship, passed away last week in Jerusalem, at 84.   

He was one of the true gedolim, the great Jewish figures and leaders of our time. His historical experience spanned the modern history of the Jewish People: escaping his country of birth, Austria, his survival, hidden, and then educated, in Holland (where he did his doctorate in economics), his stay in France (where he began his ground-breaking research in  the global economy), and then his aliyah, to Israel and Jerusalem in 1968, doing his IDF service and developing a successful financial  consultancy and work with Bank Leumi. 

Remarkably, Manfred’s career as a scholar of Jewish history, and specifically of antisemitism, began late. It resulted in international renown and a scholarly production of over twenty books and innumerable articles, reviews and translations, in multiple languages. He became associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, ultimately serving as Board Chairman from 2006-2015 and head of its Institute for Jewish Global Affairs. 

Once underway, his historical experience, remarkable intellect and strength of character, command of six languages, and his indefatigable energy, informed the vast range of his scholarship. 

Well aware of the longue durée of “the world’s oldest hatred” and controlling the multilingual historiography of its study, Manfred chose to focus on its virulent contemporary expressions. He zeroed in especially on the emergence of a supposedly “new” 21st-cenury antisemitism, centered on Israel’s supposed “occupation” and “genocide” of the Palestinians. It is a propaganda message carefully coordinated and expressed in various forums–at the UN, in Europe, in the media, and on “BDS”-ridden North American college campuses. 

In a series of books at once incisive and wide-ranging (Anti-Israelism and Antisemitism, The War of A Million Cuts, Demonizing Israel and the Jews), he laid bare the “old”, traditional antisemitic tropes and motifs underlying the “new” revivals. He demonstrated, and eviscerated, the antisemitic animus of left-wing ideologues, pro-Palestinian “humanists” and professors, “principled anti-Zionists”, Muslim immigrants to Europe, and continuing German, Dutch and Scandinavian Jew-hatred (the Norwegians, especially, bristled under his relentless critique).. 

Using simple but large-scale opinion polling, he demonstrated wide and ongoing popular European anti-Semitic sentiment, Holocaust denial, and demonization of the democratic Jewish State of Israel. 

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Above all, in everything he wrote, Manfred sought with characteristic realism actively to oppose antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism, and to rally Jewish opinion and institutions against them. He was remarkable in this regard, uniting scrupulously careful and objective scholarship with an insistent call for informed and consistent action. This extended to the State of Israel, where he long urged official support for a state bureau dedicated  actively to opposing global antisemitism, and to coordinating national endeavors in this regard. This remains a work to be completed.  

I was privileged to know Manfred for some twenty years, and to have benefitted not only from his scholarship, but also from his personal example, and his warm friendship. In 2019 the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research was privileged to confer on Manfred Gerstenfeld, after his Annual Gala Keynote speech in Montreal (he was driven through a snowstorm from Toronto to make it), its “International Lion of Judah Award”. The Award, in recognition of his lifetime of service to Israel and the Jewish people, was richly deserved, for — as was noted — Manfred was then the world’s outstanding student of modern antisemitism. 

It is, then, with profound sadness that we note the loss of this great Zionist champion of Jewish values and of the centrality of the restored State of Israel in the life of the Jewish People. But it is also with profound confidence and gratitude that we can affirm that his life of great service will long live in memory and example, enshrined in the ongoing influence of his scholarship, and his love of the Jewish People.  

To his grieving sons and family, we extend our deepest sympathy, and our reassurance that Manfred’s work will continue, and life will truly ever remain  a blessing. 

To read more about Manfred Gerstenfeld, click here.

TheJ.ca extends our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, and Editor of its “Daily Isranet Briefing”.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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