Let’s start with the easy one: anti-Israel. Anti-Israel includes beliefs from very extreme to less extreme:
- the extreme position of kill/expel all the Jews
- an (alleged) live-together solution of “From the river to the sea Palestine shall be free”, i.e., no State of Israel but perhaps, maybe, Jews and Arabs are envisioned as living in peace as Palestinians in one state.
- a willingness to accept the State of Israel with a Palestinian state alongside but is critical of most of the long-term policies of the state, e.g., Jewish immigration and citizenship, the Jewish control of the state, its militarization, and its religious laws and influence, e.g., no civil marriage.
All of these three positions, with various intermediate positions between them, reflect a viewpoint more than just opposing Netanyahu, opposing the settlements, opposing rabbinical power in Israel, or opposing Israel’s foreign policy.
In the title, I deliberately chose two other countries whose regimes, governance, and leadership seem despicable to most of my readers. I could have chosen many others, e.g., anti-Syria, anti-North Korea, anti-Cuba, anti-Iran. But are we anti-Saudi or anti-Russia? These terms are strange since they do not appear in our regular media sources or political discussions. However much we might identify with anti-Saudi or anti-Russian positions, very few of us want to kill or expel all Saudis or all Russians from their country. Options 2 and 3 above for Russia and Saudi Arabia might mean giving some level of autonomy to groups living inside the country, e.g., Chechans, other Muslim peoples, some Siberian groups in Russia, and perhaps the Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia. This would be combined with some level of democracy that is also implied in options 2 and 3, both for Israel and the new state of Palestine.
But one cannot ignore that there are no mass movements or calls for the overthrow or partition of Russia or Saudi Arabia. There have not been huge protests in the West against the Russian invasion of Ukraine as there have been against Israel’s invasion of Gaza. We could also consider the freedom of Chinese Tibetans and Uighurs.
Anti-Israel, or anti-Israelism to make it an “ism”, is not the same as anti-Semitism. Some Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now are strongly anti-Israel and mainly composed of Jews who do not profess anti-Semitic beliefs. The Jewish religious groups, Satmar and Naturei Karta profess open hostility to the concept of a Jewish state before the Messiah’s arrival. On this differentiation of various such terms see my TOI post: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/anti-semitism-anti-israel-anti-zionism-and-anti-judaism/
I think we can attribute the strength of anti-Israelism to a few factors, although it is exceedingly difficult to quantify the influence and weight of each:
- The power and influence of the Arab world and the larger Muslim world
- Anti-colonial feeling that sees Israel as a late manifestation of European colonialism
- The power of New Testament biblical imagery and remaining anti-Semitism in many Western societies.
- The lack of democratic and other rights toward West Bank Palestinians and the effective blockade with few exceptions of Gaza by both Israel and Egypt.
- Strong American support for Israel is condemned by many people who oppose American power.
- Israel gets more American financial support (mainly military) than any other country. When this aid is put into per capita terms for the recipient country, Israeli aid dwarfs the amount given to other countries, especially Egypt and Pakistan.
- The current Israel-Gaza war where at least 15,000 Gazan civilians have died just reinforces anti-Israelism springing from the preceding six reasons
It is hard to see that any of these will change in Israel’s favor in the coming decade.