Michael Jackson

Anti-Semitism, anti-Israel, anti-Zionism, and anti-Judaism

The IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) is the only intergovernmental organization mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues.  This is their working definition of anti-Semitism:  “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.”

Before we return to anti-Semitism and its current manifestations, let us consider the other three terms.  Anti-Judaism is a hostility to Judaism as a religion or culture.  This hostility may be from a rival religion or as manifested by atheists who reject all religions.  There is continual anti-Judaism in the New Testament, with the Gospel of John being anti-Semitic as well.   Many early church fathers, Luther, St. John Chrysostom, and other famous church leaders were both anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic.  The Christian doctrine of supersession over Judaism is also anti-Judaic per se. Equally for Islam.

Anti-Zionism refers to the belief that there should not be a homeland or a state specifically for the Jewish people.  The term Anti-Zionist only really had meaning after the establishment of political Zionism around 1880.  Thus, Jewish Mensheviks and Bolsheviks were anti-Zionists in the early 1900s since they believed that socialism would solve the Jewish problem and therefore Jews should not be Zionists.   Also, their anti-Judaism was subsumed under their overall animosity to all religions.  There are two branches of anti-Zionism.  After the State of Israel was established, anti-Zionism could mean that the State of Israel should never have been established but now that it exists, it can be accepted.  Or it can mean that Zionism is a wrong doctrine and its instantiation in the State of Israel must be destroyed.

Anti-Israel, as a political term, starts with the establishment of the state in 1948  It means far more than opposing this or that government.  At the least, it means opposing many basic tenets and long-term actions of the Israeli government, e.g., West Bank settlements, the role of religion in the country, and the treatment of Israeli Arabs.  Used in this sense, I think many in the West would also consider themselves anti-Russia, anti-Saudi, and anti-North Korea.  It can also mean that the adherent of a strong anti-Israel position believes that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state which is the position of the second type of anti-Zionist mentioned above.  A severe critic of Israeli policies who is a Jewish Israeli is not anti-Israel whereas a Jew or non-Jew espousing identical attitudes in America or Europe would be considered anti-Israel.

To illustrate the overlap and non-overlap of these terms, I have categorized, institutions, political organizations, countries, and individuals, both past and present, in these four categories.   Your categorization may differ from mine.   Here are my categorizations:

Institutions, political organizations, and countries

American evangelicals – anti-Judaic

American Jewish Reform movement pre-1967 – anti-Zionist

Atheists, at least the vociferous ones – anti-Judaic (along with “anti” all religions)

BDS – anti-Israel

Catholic Church – anti-Judaic,  in the past also anti-Semitic

European countries that expelled Jews over 500 years ago, viz.  France, England, Spain, Portugal – anti-Semitic

Golf clubs, residential estates, and universities not admitting or restricting Jews – anti-Semitic

Hamas – anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Judaic

Iran anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Judaic

International Red Cross (before it admitted Israel – in 2006) – anti-Israel

Jews for Jesus – anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic, anti-Zionist

KKK – anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic

Neturei Karta – anti-Zionist, anti-Israel

Palestinian Authority – anti-Zionist, anti-Israel

Satmar – anti-Zionist, anti-Israel

Saudi Arabia – anti-Zionist, anti-Judaic, anti-Israel

Some far-left European parliamentary parties – anti-Israel, anti-Zionist

Some far-right European parliamentary parties – anti-Semitic

Turkey – anti-Israel

United Nations – anti-Israel


Joe Biden – none of these

Pat Buchanan – anti-Semitic, anti-Israel

Noam Chomsky – anti-Israel

Jeremy Corbyn – anti-Semitic, anti-Israel

Mel Gibson – anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic  (his movie of Jesus)

Majorie Taylor Greene – anti-Semitic, anti-Israel

Pastor John Hagee – claimed that Adolf Hitler had been born from a lineage of “accursed, genocidally murderous half-breed Jews” – anti-Semitic

Adolf Hitler – anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic

Robert F Kennedy Jr – earlier this year, repeated the conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was “targeted” to spare Jewish and Chinese people – anti-Semitic

Marine Le Pen – anti-Semitic

Many opponents of West Bank settlements – none of these

Karl Marx – anti-Judaic, anti-Semitic

Elon Musk – anti-Semitic

Nietzsche – anti-Judaic (along with anti-Christian and anti-Islamic)

Victor Orban – anti-Semitic

Putin – anti-Israel

Tommy Robinson, far-right UK leader – “…generally speaking, at least the white European Jews, have an average IQ of 110, so inevitably those Jews will rise to the top of corporations” – anti-Semitic

Edward Said – anti-Zionist, anti-Israel

Bailey Smith, former leader of Southen Baptists, is infamous for his statement “God does not hear the prayer of a Jew” – anti-Judaic, anti-Semitic

Some Arab members of the Israeli parliament – anti-Zionist

Some ultra-Orthodox members of the Israeli parliament – anti-Zionist

Rashida Tlaib – anti-Israel, anti-Zionist

Arnold Toynbee (historian), Judaism as a fossil civilization, but an admirer of Yohannan ben Zakkai – anti-Zionist

Voltaire  – anti-Judaic, anti-Semitic

Kanye West – anti-Semitic

On a personal note:  An ardent Zionist once accused me of being anti-Semitic because I opposed settlements on the West Bank.

About the Author
Born in London in 1949. Studied Maths at Warwick University. Came to Israel (WUJS program at Arad) in 1971. I became a citizen and served in the army in 1973. Returned to the UK in 1974. Worked in Information Systems. Married an American Orthodox woman in 1977 and moved to America. For a few years I have led a retiree philosophy class.
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