By Brian Edward Brouse
The Tulsa community has benefited in so many ways from the Frank Family and its foundations.
On September 17, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt delivered the ninth annual Irvin and Sharna Frank Memorial Lecture in Judaism and Contemporary Issues. This year’s lecture was entitled, “Does Everybody Really Hate the Jews? Contemporary Antisemitism – An Assessment.”
The Barbara and Dave Sylvan Auditorium was filled with over 240 people who came to hear the talk.Dr. Jacob Howland, University of Tulsa professor and a member of The Frank Memorial Lecture committee, introduced Dr. Lipstadt and also recognized the Frank Family members who were in the audience.
Dr. Lipstadt, who created the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, stated that anti-Semitism is irrational, a delusional sentiment, a conspiracy theory. She mentioned different types of anti-Semitism, ranging from the extreme hatred of Jews to the “accidental” sort that unthinkingly reflects popular prejudices. In illustrating the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism in certain parts of “polite” society, she referred to Isaiah Berlin’s definition of the anti-Semite as “someone who hates Jews more than is absolutely necessary.”
Another question Dr. Lipstadt asked was, “How dangerous is anti-Semitism?” She stated that today we by and large do not see “official” anti-Semitism. However, she noted that anti-Semitism exists on both sides of the political spectrum: the old-fashioned bigotry on the far right is matched by promoters of Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS), who hope to make Israel toxic in the minds of people, on the left. What is really necessary is not to just criticize people on the other side of the political aisle, but to also root out anti-Semitism in our own midst.
Dr. Lipstadt stated that although we are naturally most concerned about the welfare of our own group, we must also be concerned about others. If we do not speak out when others are wronged, who will speak out when we are wronged? She urged everyone to look for the lover of Semites, and to recognize those who speak up and do not accept intolerance and discrimination.