Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, but it may be worse

When last year French President Emmanuel Macron said that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, I praised him for it. I have also said the same myself. Now I realize that I was wrong. While anti-Zionism implies anti-Semitism in most if not all cases, conflating the two is not correct or helpful.

An anti-Zionist, i.e., someone who opposes the Jews’ right to self-determination, is almost certainly an anti-Semite, just as someone who believes in segregation of whites and blacks is almost certainly a racist. But this still does not imply that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism, just as belief in segregation is not technically the same as racism. In fact, saying that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism may be counter-productive. It takes the debate from discussing anti-Zionism to discussing anti-Semitism, and the latter is often far more abstract than the former.

Anti-Semitism is the hatred of people for being Jewish, just like racism is the hatred of people who belong to a different race. For most Jews, being a Zionist is fundamental to being Jewish and therefore in their view, one cannot be fully Jewish without being a Zionist, but there are Jews who disagree. In fact, there are Jews who are anti-Zionist.

When we say that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, we fall into the trap of having to prove that Jews who anti-Zionist are in fact anti-Semitic, which is not obvious. It is easy to find Jews who are honest in their Judaism but who believe that Jews should not have national self-determination.

Anti-Zionism is in fact an evil on its own, without having to equate it with anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the evil of anti-Zionism is far easier to prove than the evil of anti-Semitism because it is far more concrete.

Anti-Zionism consists of opposing national self-determination for Jews while not opposing it for all other peoples on earth. It consists of applying a deliberate double standard – demonizing Israel for sometimes questionable decisions and actions while ignoring gross violations of human rights by its neighbors against their own people and against Israel. It consists of claiming that Jews are colonizers and occupiers on land where Jews have lived and have had to fight for survival for 3000 years.

It consists of supporting and encouraging the destructive Palestinian refugee system for several generations (a concept that exists for no other refugees) in order to ensure that the conflict continues, while knowing that just as many Jewish refugees were created by the conflict but never received any international help and were absorbed quietly by Israel.

It consists of insisting that Israel become a binational state where all Palestinian so-called refugees can be brought in to erase the Jewish majority and transform Israel into an Arab state. It consists of ignoring that practically all Jews were forced to leave the Arab world which has now become as Judenrein as Germany was during the Holocaust. It consists of demanding that Jews abandon their homes in Judea and Samaria so that the Palestinians can create yet one more Judenrein Arab state.

It consists of calling Israel “Palestine” when no such country has ever existed as an Arab nation or even as a sovereign nation. It consists of calling Israel the “Zionist Entity” in an attempt to erase 3000 years of history and replace it with a new conveniently invented Arab Palestine. It consists of routinely making false claims against Israel, such as claims of genocide, while encouraging a Palestinian culture where children are taught to hate the “Yehudis” (the Jews).

Anti-Zionism consists of rewriting history in order to justify hatred and demonization of the Jewish state. Its goal is to make Israeli Jews stateless and to allow Palestinian Arabs to do to Israeli Jews what Arabs have already done to Jews from Arab lands – murder them and force the rest to flee.

Anti-Zionists such as British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hide behind the fact that technically, in a very narrow sense, they may not be anti-Semitic, but that does not matter one bit. As reported about former Labour Tony Blair, “Asked whether he thought Corbyn was an anti-Semite, Blair replied, ‘In a sort of classic sense, I don’t think he is.’ But, he added, ‘his statements and the way the party have handled this… It really doesn’t matter if I call him that or not’.”

The vast majority, if not all anti-Zionists, are anti-Semites, but anti-Zionism is hatred at an even bigger scale. While anti-Semitism aims to shun individuals Jews, strip them of their jobs, harass them, and treat them as if they were inferior, anti-Zionism aims to shun a whole nation and strip it of its existence. It is a hatred worse than traditional anti-Semitism – it rivals Nazi-level anti-Semitism.

This is the anti-Zionism that we must denounce.

Note: The picture, taken in May 2018 in a street of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, shows a baby outfit that associates Che Guevara, a Cuban guerrilla leader killed in 1967 in Bolivia, with the struggle to “free Palestine”.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere. Fred Maroun writes for Gatestone Institute.
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