Occasionally, I am mistaken for a Jew. And sometimes I’m treated like a Jew. These occasions aren’t always, shall I say, fun. Like the time an Arab threatened to rape me because I supported the Gaza blockade or the time a neo-Nazi Skinhead threatened to find me and beat me because I advocated Israel’s right to exist. Or the time Arabs yelled “Allahu akbar!” at my children and me when we were on the Temple Mount because they thought we were Jews.
The latest occasion occurred when I commented on social media that the Jews were “the best people in the world.” I was quickly accused of being a Zionist, which I proudly am. But in many people’s estimation, being a Zionist is nothing to be proud of. According to them Zionism = racism. Therefore, it’s acceptable to be anti-Zionist, because it’s synonymous to being anti-racist. In reality, though, anti-Zionism is the new black; the fashionable, trendy way to be anti-Semitic, without appearing to overtly hate Jews.
The people on social media who accused me of being hateful because I was a Zionist were quick to make the distinction that they didn’t hate Jews. They just hated Israel because of its “occupation” and hated Zionists for believing that the Jews had the right to self-determination in Israel.
The trend of equating Zionism with racism and of labeling the Jewish state of Israel into a war mongering, occupying state, began with Yasser Arafat. Arafat’s famous or infamous (depending on whether you are a anti-Zionist or Zionist) 1974 UN speech set the tone for decades regarding how anyone who has a regard for human rights should view the existence of Israel.
In his speech, Arafat repeatedly equated Zionism to racism and systematically structured a narrative of the Arabs’ victimhood status in Israel at the hands of Jewish “oppressors.” He even had the audacity to frame the Arab wars against Israel as Israeli wars of aggression.
Here are various lines from his 1974 UN speech that highlight his spin:
Our resolve to build a new world is fortified — a world free of colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism and racism in each of its instances, including Zionism.
Great numbers of peoples, including those of Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Palestine, among many others, are still victims of oppression and violence. These areas of the world are gripped by armed struggles provoked by imperialism and racial discrimination, both merely forms of aggression and terror.
The Zionist entity clings tenaciously to occupied Arab territory; Zionism persists, in its aggressions against us and our territory. New military preparations are feverishly being made. These anticipate another, fifth war of aggression to be launched against us.
An old world order is crumbling before our eyes, as imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism, the chief form of which is Zionism, ineluctably perish.
Palestine is crucial amongst those just causes fought for unstintingly by masses laboring under imperialism and aggression.
I cannot now forgo this opportunity to appeal from this rostrum directly to the American people, asking it to give its support to our heroic and fighting people. I ask it whole-heartedly to endorse right and justice, to recall George Washington to mind, heroic Washington whose purpose was his nation’s freedom and independence, Abraham Lincoln, champion of the destitute and the wretched, and also Woodrow Wilson, whose doctrine of Fourteen Points remains subscribed to and venerated by our people.
Zionism is an ideology that is imperialist, colonialist, racist; it is profoundly reactionary and discriminatory.
Thus, for instance, we can understand the close connection between Cecil Rhodes, who promoted settler colonialism in south-east Africa, and Theodor Herzl, who had settler colonialist designs upon Palestine.
Not satisfied with all this, the racist entity, founded on the imperialist-colonialist concept, turned itself into a base of imperialism and into an arsenal of weapons. This enabled it to assume its role of subjugating the Arab people and of committing aggression against them, in order to satisfy its ambitions for further expansion on Palestinian and other Arab lands. In addition to the many instances of aggression committed by this entity against the Arab States, it has launched two large-scale wars, in 1956 and 1967, thus endangering world peace and security.
Arafat, the Father of Modern Terrorism, who was molded into a “statesman” by the KBG, turned the tables on Israel with his narrative. Israel’s self-defense against Arab aggressors, who vowed to “throw the Jews into the sea,” was rebranded into oppression, occupation, and aggression. Arafat’s revisionist tale morphed David into being Goliath instead of fighting against Goliath, and has even led to anti-Zionists preposterously labeling Jews as the new Nazis bent on committing genocide against the Palestinians. Arafat knew that Israel could not be destroyed by conventional warfare, so he launched a new weapon. A war of words packaged in a humanitarian narrative.
As pointed out by David Meir-Levi in History Upside Down: The Roots of Palestinian Fascism and the Myth of Israeli Aggression, “Arafat was particularly struck by Ho Chi Minh’s success in mobilizing left-wing sympathizers in Europe and the United States, where activists on American campuses, enthusiastically following the line of North Vietnamese operatives, had succeeded in reframing the Vietnam war from a Communist assault on the south to a struggle for national liberation.”
Arafat sent one of his top men in the PLO, Abu Jihad, to North Vietnam to study the strategy and tactics of Ho Chi Minh. While in North Vietnam, it was made clear to Abu Jihad by Ho’s chief strategist, General Giap, that if Arafat wanted to gain support, he had to redefine the terms of his struggle to destroy Israel. Arafat was instructed to, “Stop talking about annihilating Israel and instead turn your terror war into a struggle for human rights. Then you will have the American people eating out of your hand.”
General Giap’s prediction has come to pass especially on American college campuses via the BDS movement and “Israel Apartheid” weeks. As Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of Britain, points out, these campaigns against Israel have become “what Easter was in the Middle Ages, a time for attacks against Jews.”
College students and many liberals gravitate towards these campaigns against Israel in the name of human rights and social justice, believing the narrative that Palestinians are oppressed by Israel. In describing these campaigns against Israel, Sacks says, “Throughout history, when people have sought to justify anti-Semitism, they have done so by recourse to the highest source of authority available within the culture. In the Middle Ages, it was religion. In post-Enlightenment Europe it was science. Today it is human rights. It is why Israel—the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East with a free press and independent judiciary—is regularly accused of the five crimes against human rights: racism, apartheid, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide. This is the blood libel of our time.” He succinctly concludes, “Anti-Semitism is a form of cognitive failure.” And because anti-Zionism, in my estimation is a veiled form of anti-Semitism, then the same can be said of anti-Zionism. It is a form of cognitive failure.
I know the frustration I felt at being accused of hatred and racism merely because I love Jews and support their basic right to exist in their own nation is miniscule compared to the individual and collective pain and frustration Jews worldwide feel. It must be exhausting, to say the least, to continuously feel like one has to justify his or her existence.
Recently my teenage daughter had a bit of a meltdown as teenagers occasionally do. She slightly imploded under stress that had been building up in her life. One of the top things on her this-is-causing-me-stress list was Israel and the Jews. “I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t love and support Israel and the Jews. Why can’t everyone see that the Jews are the best people in the world?” she asked through tears.
So even though there are many millennials and liberals who continue Arafat’s campaign to denigrate and delegitimize Israel and the Jews’ existence, there are also many people like my daughter and me who love and support Israel so much. We see through the lies, false narratives, and propaganda.
We know that you are not the ones who started the fight for survival. But we also know you will fight disproportionately, meaning you will fight to survive and to win. For living is always a disproportionate response to dying. As Yair Lapid so poignantly wrote, “I have no desire or intention to adopt the moral standards of my enemies. I do not want to be like them. I do not live by my sword; I merely keep it under my pillow.”
By the way, Arafat received a standing ovation after he spoke at the UN General Assembly. That is as inconceivable to me as it is that people still view Israel’s defense against its enemies as anything other than an amazing will to live. But then again, I don’t suffer from cognitive failure. I see things as they truly are.