New book accused of antisemitism, racism

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A recently published book in the Czech Republic titled "Tabu" has attracted strong criticism from the leaders of the country's Jewish community. Written by Petr Bakalar, the release "Tabu" has been described by Tomas Jelinek, the chairperson of the Jewish community in Prague, as being more dangerous than when Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" came out. These comments were made by Mr Jelinek to the Czech newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes today, as a debate raged on its front pages between the book's critics and its author.

Critics of "Tabu" believe that the views expressed in the book are racist and antisemitic, and Mr Jelinek believes that it could become a manual for Czech racists and antisemites. In the 300-page book, Mr Bakalar writes among other things about the difference in intelligence between races, and he makes references to the percentage of Jews in the American film industry, media and universities. Among the other controversial ideas to come out of the book are that the Jews control the influential media in the United States, and that they have always been closely tied with world communism.

What has also disturbed the critics of "Tabu" is that it looks like a respectable academic work, published with numerous quotations, references, diagrams and tables. But Czech academics have strongly condemned the book. The sociologist Tomas Kamin, for example, has even filed a law suit against Mr Bakalar. Mr Kamin told Mlada fronta Dnes that the book presents racist and antisemitic ideas, and that the Mr Bakalar uses quotations in a manner which suits his intentions.

But Mr Bakalar lashed out at his critics today, telling Mlada Fronta Dnes that while antisemitic propaganda has magnified criticism of the Jews, this should not obscure the fact that there is some truth to such criticism of the Jews. He contends that few people have dared to open up this topic after the Second World War, and that some people have been completely unwilling to lead a debate on the issue.

"Tabu" is by no means the only book available on the Czech market that has been accused of propagating racist and antisemitic attitudes. Despite this, the level of antisemitism is generally considered to be quite low in the Czech Republic. The Antisemitism World Report - which monitors incidences of antisemitism around the world - notes that the Jewish community in the Czech Republic faces no serious threats of prejudice, and it praises former president Vaclav Havel and the current government for combating racism and promoting human rights.