Antisemitism during the Diaspora thrived in many ways because Jews were powerless to resist it. It was easy to Hitler to blame Jews for Germany's problems because the Jews could do nothing to fight back and because no nation in the world represented Jewish interests or was even willing to take on Jewish refugees (famously shown at the Evian Conference). In a state of powerlessness and highly visible because of their distinctive culture, dress and language and tendency to congregate together in neighborhoods and villages, Jews presented the ultimate scapegoat and a people who had refused to assimilate to the two major proselytizing religions: Islam and Christianity.
The establishment of the State of Israel brought many changes to the ancient practice of Antisemitism. While some countries immediately evicted their Jews (primarily Islamic nations), other nations refused to let their Jews depart (such as the Soviet Union). The Islamic world, which treated Jews as second class citizens at best because of their refusal to support Muhammad after he was expelled from Mecca. When Jews were in the Diaspora, they could be controlled, subjected to the jizya (poll tax), restricted in their ability to build synagogues and forced into undesirable neighborhoods of cities like Istanbul and Baghdad. The creation of Israel and the subsequent expulsion of 700,000 Jews from the nearby Arab states created a situation which the Islamic world had never experienced: Jews having power over themselves, in a place that the Islamic world considered "theirs."
After 1948, the focus of Antisemitism changed. Few if any Jews living in Islamic lands, and they could not serve as internal scapegoats. Their state, however, could be attacked and blamed for the problems plaguing the Middle East. For good measure, the blood libel was brought back to force with accusations that Jews killed Arab children and stole their organs. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fabrication of Tsar Nicolas II's Secret Police, was imported and became a best seller in the bookstores of Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. Most significantly, the Islamic world began a strong global campaign, backed by their oil wealth, designed to show that Jewish self determination was racist against the Arabs of the British Mandatory Palestine. This attempt succeeded, as the UN passed a resolution stating that Zionism, the Jewish nationalist movement, is racist. No other nationalist movement has been so labeled. And while the Protocols of the Elders of Zion accused the Jews of Diaspora of being global puppetmasters who ran the world by manipulating financial institutions. That type of antisemitic imagery has been unchanged, with many people contending that there is a vast Jewish conspiracy to manipulate global financial market for Jewish gain, that AIPAC and Israeli lobbying groups control or exert undue influence over the U.S. government, and, most significantly, that Israel and its behavior are the determining factor of whether there will or will not be peace in the Middle East.
Of course, in recent years, as Jews have woken up and realized that attacks on Israel and demands that it take detrimental or even suicidal actions for the benefit of its enemies are grounded in antisemitism, the anti-Israel crowd has raised the banner of "being anti Israel does not make you anti-Semitic," using formalistic and superficial contentions to try to distinguish their attacks on Israel from attempting to deny Jewish sovereignty and self determination. Obviously, there are people who legitimately criticize the Israeli government and its policies and are not antisemitic nor trying to deny Jewish sovereignty. Israel is not some perfect or ideal nation that is above reproach or beyond criticism. However, given its unique circumstances as a nation surrounded by many countries who do not recognize its right to exist and that have launched several wars against it, criticism of Israel that focuses on its need to give up land, allow for the right of return of hundreds of thousands of Arabs refugees or re-divide Jerusalem need to be taken with extra scrutiny considering the well established intentions of Israel's Arab neighbors.
And let's be honest, there are those in the West who view Israel as a mistake, a nation created before the end of colonialism and a country whose existence is as desirable as that of apartheid South Africa. Those people, insofar as they mask their disdain for Israel's existence by couching it in terms of support for groups like Hamas, Hizbullah and PLO and by seeking liberation of Palestine "from the river to the sea" are committing an antisemitic act. For a person to say that they do not harbor discriminatory views against Jews but at the same time to contend that Jews should be deprived of their right to self determination in favor of the rights of another people is an Anti-semite and there is no way around that. We Jews now live in a time where many of the most vile and heinous antisemitic lies are being redeployed by people who wish to see us return to being stateless dhimmis whose continued existence is based on the whims of others.
As Rosh Hoshanah comes, I think that 5772 needs to be a year where Jews across the world realize and take a stand against the antisemitic aspects of much of the anti-Israel rhetoric out there in the world. Zionism is being portrayed as a global conspiracy similar to that described in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and it is up to us to stand up and defend ourselves in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile and increasingly willing to take the side of the Arabs. Part of ending the Diaspora was taking our lives, our future and our destiny into our own hands for the first time in 2000 years. Now is the time to seize that opportunity.