Manfred Gerstenfeld (Hebrew: מנפרד גרסטנפלד; born 1937 in Vienna, Austria) is an Austrian-born Israeli scholar and author and former Chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Manfred Gerstenfeld was born in Vienna in 1937. He grew up in Amsterdam where he obtained a master’s degree in organic chemistry at Amsterdam University. He also studied economics at what is nowadays Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He has a high school teaching degree in Jewish studies from the Dutch Jewish seminary. In 1999, he obtained a Ph.D. in environmental studies at Amsterdam University.
In 1964 he and his late wife, Marianne, moved to Paris where he joined the then leading European firm of stock market analysis, Eurofinance. There he became initially Europe’s first financial analyst specializing in the pharmaceutical industry. Later, he became head of the firm’s chemical industries analysis department. He also started to advise major companies on international mergers and acquisitions.
He gradually became a strategic advisor to the heads of companies and major corporations, among which were several Fortune top 500 firms. He continued these activities also when he lived in Israel until his retirement in 2000.
From 1961-1963 he was a member of the three-person executive team of the umbrella organization of Jewish youth movements in Europe. From 1963-1967 he was the volunteer chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS). For part of those years the honorary chairman was former Israeli Prime David Ben Gurion.
Gerstenfeld and his family moved to Jerusalem, Israel in 1968. There he became the managing director of the economic consultancy firm, National Consultants, owned jointly by Eurofinance and Israel’s then-largest bank, Bank Leumi. He served in the Israeli army (IDF) and became an academic reserve officer in the intelligence division.
In 1976, he joined a small group around former Israeli Chief of Staff, Yigal Yadin, to create what would become the Democratic Movement. After a merger, it turned into a political party known as Dash which obtained 15 seats in the 1977 parliamentary elections. Gerstenfeld was a member of its national council. Later he became a board member of one of Israel’s largest companies, the Israel Corporation. He also served on the board of several other Israeli public companies.
In 2000 Gerstenfeld retired fully from his activities as an international business strategist. That year he became the volunteer chairman of the board for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a leading Jerusalem based think tank, of which he had been a fellow and later a Board Member for a number of years. He served in that position from 2000 until 2012.
In the JCPA he founded and headed the Institute for Jewish Global Affairs. In it he developed major research in the fields of contemporary antisemitism and post-Holocaust studies. He was also an editor of the Jewish Political Studies Review academic journal, co-publisher of the Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism and Changing Jewish Communities. He was a member of the council of the Foundation for Research of Dutch Jewry, where for part of the time he was the vice-chairman of the Board. In 2019 he became a senior research associate of the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies where he frequently publishes. He also publishes regularly in the Jerusalem Post and in Israel National News.
Gerstenfeld has authored or edited 27 books. His books have been published in eight languages.
In the opinion of Ha’aretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer, writing in 2013, Gerstenfeld “is without doubt the greatest authority on anti-Semitism today.” Isi Leibler, the former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, wrote in the Jerusalem Post in 2015: “Gerstenfeld would today…be considered the most qualified analyst of contemporary anti-Semitism with a focus on anti-Israelism.”
He is the 2012 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism. In 2015, he received the International Leadership Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In 2019, Gerstenfeld received the International Lion of Judah Award from the Canadian Institute of Jewish Research in recognition of him as the leading international scholar on contemporary antisemitism.
Positions on Antisemitism as an Integral Part or European Culture
A central position of Gerstenfeld has been that antisemitism is an integral part of Western culture for over 1000 years. As culture developed so too did antisemitism and its mutations. It should be a target of those fighting antisemitism to obtain recognition for this fact from leading personalities.
Position on Israeli government’s Attitude toward Antisemitism
Gerstenfeld considers that the Israeli government has failed as it has not created an anti-propaganda agency. Only such a body can systematically deal with the widespread hate campaigns against both Israel and world Jewry.
Definition of Antisemitism
Gerstenfeld uses the widely accepted non-legal working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Yet he considers that there are in its fringes many activities which, while not directly antisemitic, help antismites. Examples of this are smokescreening, whitewashing antisemitism, and facilitating podiums for antisemites. He also considers that a specific definition of anti-Israelism is required.
- Revaluing Italy with Lorenzo Necci (Italian) (1992)
- Environment and Confusion: An Introduction to a Messy Subject (1993)
- The State as a Business: Do-It-Yourself Political Forecasting (Italian) (1994)
- Israel’s New Future Interviews (1994)
- Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment (1998)
- The Environment in the Jewish Tradition: A Sustainable World (Hebrew) (2002)
- Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Foreword by Emil L. Fackenheim) (2003)
- The New Clothes of European Anti-Semitism (French)(2004), co-edited with Shmuel Trigano
- American Jewry’s Challenge: Conversations Confronting the Twenty-first Century(Foreword by Jonathan Sarna) (2004)
- Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (2005)
- European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change? (2006)
- Israel at the Polls 2006 with Shmuel Sandler and Jonathan Rynhold (2008)
- Academics against Israel and the Jews. (Foreword by Natan Sharansky) (2007)
- Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel, and the Jews (Foreword by Gert Weisskirchen)(2008)
- The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses (Foreword by Abrham H. Foxman) (2009)
- Anti-Semitism in Norway: Behind the Humanitarian Mask (Foreword by Finn Jarle Saele) (Norwegian) (2010)
- American Jewry’s Comfort Level: Present and Future with Steven Bayme (Foreword by David A. Harris) (2010)
- Israel at the Polls 2009 with Shmuel Sandler and Hillel Frisch (2010)
- Het Verval. Joden in een stuurloos Nederland (The Decay. Jews in a Rudderless Netherlands) (Dutch) (2010)
- Judging the Netherlands:the Renewed Holocaust Restitution Process 1997-2000 (Foreword by Stuart E. EizenstatStuart E. Eizenstat) (2011)
- Demonizing Israel and the Jews. (Foreword by Rabbi Marvin Hier) (2013)
- Postwar Jewish Displacement and Rebirth (with: Françoise S. Ouzan) (2014)
- The War of a Million Cuts (Foreword by Jose Maria Aznar) (2015)
- Israel at the Polls 2013: Continuity and Change in Israeli Political Culture. (with Eithan Orkibi) (2015)
- Israel at the Polls 2015: A moment of transformative stability. (with Eithan Orkibi) (2017)
- Anti-Israelism and Antisemitism. (Foreword by Edna Brocke) (German) (2018)
- Veerkracht [Resilience] with Wendy Cohen Wierda (Foreword by Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs) (Dutch) (2019)
- Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in Western Schools
- Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in Dutch Schools
- The Gaza Flotilla: Facts and Official Reactions
- Fischer, Stefan; Grohmann, Marianne (2010). Weisheit und Schöpfung: Festschrift für James Alfred Loader zum 65. Geburtstag. Peter Lang. pp. 238–. ISBN 978-3-631-59570-1. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- “Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld – Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs”. Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs.
- Arnold, Janice; Reporter, Staff (2019-12-04). “Aggressive policy against academic BDS proposed by expert”. The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2019-12-27.
- Anshel Pfeffer, ‘How to Be a Limmud Snob: A Guide to Navigating the Ultimate Jewish Conference,’ Haaretz 22 December 2013.
- Arnold, Janice (December 15, 2019). “AGGRESSIVE POLICY AGAINST ACADEMIC BDS PROPOSED BY EXPERT”. The Canadian Jewish News.