“I am not anti-Semitic, I just don’t support Israel! I love the Jews, I have been to Shabbat dinner before! I just think Zionism is wrong.”

As a senior graduating this May from Binghamton University, the above statement is quite common to hear on my campus and around the world. The line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism seems to be blurry for many people, but this should not be the case. People tend to forget that words have definitions, and definitions are found in dictionaries. I am not foreign to bias though, so let’s look up the definition of “anti-Semitism” from different sources.

Merriam Webster Definition: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.

Britannica Definition: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.

European Forum on Antisemitism Definition: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” 

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

U.S Department of State Definition(excerpts)

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
  • Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist 

While all these sources are credible, the two that stand out the most are the U.S State Department and EFA, seeing as both expand upon the topic and give examples. While trying to find the line between being anti-Zionism and anti-Semitic, the EFA and the United States Department of State casts a shade of gray that many anti-Israel advocates would quiver over. “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” What is that phrase that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) loves to chant? Zionism is racism? So by definition, to call the establishment of a Jewish State in Israel racist, both the EFA and the U.S would consider that anti-Semitic. What about the “anti-Israel” rallies across Europe this past summer? Protesters in Belgium and France yelled “Gas the Jews!” while holding up signs equating Zionism to Nazism. Both instances are definition examples of anti-Semitism.

So is there a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? By definition, no. Zionism is the belief in the creation of a Jewish nation in Israel. The U.S state department and other organizations believe that denying Jews self determination in Israel is anti-Semitic.