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Debating anti-Zionists: An unofficial guide

Whether they be self-righteous elites of European descent in the West or Islamists/pan-Arab nationalists, anti-Zionists have persisted louder than ever in their onslaught against the Jewish state – and, often by insidious extension, Jews around the world. All over the globe, irate armchair warriors have taken to mainstream and social media platforms to spew both blatant misinformation and “gotcha” attempts using out-of-context historical talking points.

While some of the online “activists” might be bots employed by the infamous “anti-West” triad of Iran, Russia, and China (sometimes identifiable by a recent account registration and a profile littered with exclusively anti-Israel and anti-U.S. content), we can still challenge the human naysayers in hopes of educating those observers who might still be on the fence. If nothing else, the contemporary anti-Zionist arsenal operates off two main weapons: Emotion and the historical blame game. Zionists can counter these tactics by learning to recognize and refute – with sources, and this cannot be stressed enough – the popular talking points, as follows:

Emotion

  • The Zionists are committing genocide.” – In every skirmish with Hamas, the IDF routinely uses telephone, text messages and evacuation grid maps, and leaflet warnings to evacuate civilians before airstrikes. If they wanted to commit genocide, they could just avoid all that and chalk it up to not wanting to give up their position to Hamas. During periods of ceasefire, Gaza’s population has only ever increased since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Not to mention, in the war since October 7, 2023, the Hamas-run health ministry’s casualty count hasn’t been verified and doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants. Even if we do take these numbers at face value, turns out they’re actually tragically expected or even low for an urban warfare situation involving civilians used by their leadership as human shields. The best part, though? Hamas have actually been the ones ordering Gazans to ignore Israel’s evacuation calls. When considered alongside Hamas charter’s call for Jewish (not just “Zionist”) destruction as well as its willingness to martyr Gazans to do so, one wonders who’s better at genocide here. Even the ICJ seems to agree that Israel isn’t committing genocide, as long as they continue to take every precaution to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.The post-October 7 war is not about revenge or collective punishment, it’s about eradicating Hamas infrastructure which could pose an existential threat when backed by Iran. That said, the IDF must comply to take all possible precautions to limit civilian casualties and Netanyahu should heed Egypt’s wishes to halt at its border as well as consider that Hamas might not be completely destroyed. He can do so while calling on critics to help replace the militant group with moderates for a greater chance at lasting reconciliation. Fortunately, we know that most Israelis and Jews in the West desire a more left-of-center government for Israel, a want that doesn’t detract from their Zionism.
  • The Zionists are ethnically cleansing Palestinians.” – Same goes here. If Israel wanted to push Palestinians from the region, they would be actively demanding that those living in the West Bank re-locate to other Arab countries, perhaps citing “security” in light of the pay-to-slay program. Similarly, they would have demanded unprovoked that all Gazans must leave the Strip, never to return even if Hamas falls, again citing “security”. Even provoked by the October 7th massacre which wiped out the largest number of Jews in one day since the Holocaust and internally displaced over 500,000 Israelis, they haven’t done so.
  • The Zionists are committing apartheid.” – “Apartheid” refers to discrimination based on racial, religious, or other grounds. Gaza is its own territory, and the West Bank is basically a Palestinian state with its own government under which Israelis and Jews also wouldn’t have the same rights. While this doesn’t excuse unprovoked violence by Jewish extremists in the region, these are different national entities, and neither group is entitled to citizenship to the other. The resident Arabs who chose not to attack Jews or flee in 1948 at the behest of the surrounding Arab governments were automatically granted Israeli citizenship (yes, as a numerical minority which comes with its own challenges in any setting, as too the Jews have learned as a tiny sole state in a sea of 22 Arab and 46 Muslim states). Turns out, it pays not to slay.
  • Israel is a white supremacist blight on the Middle East that sterilizes women of color.” – Unfortunately, anti-Blackness and colorism in general exist in many, if not most, cultures (due not only to European colonialism but also to the notion that fairer skin indicates higher social status due to avoiding manual labor outside in the sun). While Israel is no different, the exact details of the incident involving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel remains unclear to both Ethiopian and Israeli leadership alike. Furthermore, given the abundance with which Arab nationalists use this as whataboutism, here’s one of our own.
  • The Zionists are colonizing occupiers.” – Wow, someone’s won the victimhood buzzword contest (and that’s when they’re not listing all of these accusations in a series of five hashtags). This leads us to…

The historical blame game

Jewish history in Israel goes back over 3,000 years, a truth that you needn’t be a colonizer, occupier, or religious fanatic to accept – you just have to believe in the science of archaeology and genetics, and no, you don’t get to define the “injustice” or “legitimacy” (depending on your argument) of blood quantum to suit your narrative. Most recently, the 1948 war against Israel and ensuing several wars initiated by Israel’s Arab neighbors led to Israel capturing Gaza (from Egypt) and the West Bank (from Jordan) in the first place.

  • The Arabs didn’t accept the UN partition, because it gave more land to the Jews who were a minority and pouring in fast.” – Quality over quantity – The majority of Jewish land would have been uncultivated desert, leaving a wealth of fertile land for resident Arabs. Also, if the Arabs opposed an anticipated influx of Jews, why even suggest that numbers alone warrant more land?
  • Peace failed, because the Jews didn’t get out of the West Bank.” – Israel uprooted all Jews from Gaza for peace in 2005, only for Hamas to take over with violence that prompted even Egypt to erect a blockade (yes, the blockade you hardly ever hear about). Do we really think Israel conceding any more of the West Bank than they did under Labor Party Prime Minister Ehud Barak and continual dismantlement of illegal Jewish outposts will make Palestinian leadership accept anything less than all of the land, especially when the majority of Palestinians declared the October 7th attacks as justified – a slaughter of civilians within Israel proper known to support Palestinian rights.
  • Israel created Hamas.” – Hamas emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • But Ashkenazi Jews aren’t real Jews – they’re white fakers who staged the Holocaust to help Europe and America take over Palestine! If Mizrahi/Sephardi (because they’re apparently synonymous) Jews even exist, it’s at the mercy of their white Ashkenazi overlords!” – Whoa, take a breath there, Sven Mohammed McCarthy Ríos. Ashkenazim share the same Middle Eastern roots as Mizrahim. Just because they didn’t have the luxury of staying on their land during the Roman occupation doesn’t erase their roots, as many Europeans understood, including the famed philosopher Immanuel Kant who referred to Jews in Europe as “Palestinians among us”. Also, if you were so loyal to your resident Jewish dhimmis, why did you alienate them the moment the “white Zionist state” popped up?
  • Even if they do have some history in Palestine, European Jews can’t just come back and kick people out who were living peacefully with the “real Jews.” – You’d be right, except the non-Jewish British actually called the shots (nothing new there, but it’s somehow this partition that gets all the attention, because “the powerful Jews must be white shamed under the guise of anti-Zionism and therefore must be white even if they weren’t ethnic Europeans”) and offered respectively an Arab and Jewish state. A series of skirmishes which began with Arab revolts and bad blood over Arab-on-Jewish violence going back centuries to the original Arabic-Islamic occupation of the Levant culminated in Israel’s Arab neighbors attacking Israel. You gotta expect that to have some consequences, at least for those Arabs who refused Israeli citizenship out of a demand to keep all the land Arab, a slogan that lives on in one of the many renditions of “From the river to the sea (From water to water, Palestine will be Arabic)” now trending among white guilt-ridden “progressive”, LGBTQ+, and “non-white solidarity” factions across educational institutions in the West. The LGBTQ+ bit is ironic, but pointing this out is “pinkwashing”, ammirite?
  • Hamas wants a ceasefire to the post-October 7th war, but Israel won’t comply.” – Not sure continued rocket attacks by Hamas, including on the Kerem Shalom crossing where most of the aid enters Gaza, are a gesture of peace.
  • Even if October 7 did happen, it was only aimed at soldiers, and no sexual assault occurred, and if it did, it wasn’t systemic.” – Wow, I dare you to raise the bar of sexual assault to needing to be systemic to count for any other group…go on, I dare you. Hamas and Iran aren’t known for their grace toward their own women, let alone those from groups they hate. And no, I don’t care if that’s “politically incorrect” to state. Your fetishization of the “noble savage devoid of any agency or accountability” is racist in itself, even when groups like Hamas feed off it. Here’s your requested testimony plus some interesting Hamas footage from both the attack and captivity, though, guessing you’ll say they’re all justified, lies/deepfakes, or both. So, why even ask in the first place?

Also, there was never an official, independent Palestinian Arab state. The Romans named the region Palestina to reflect the Egyptian and Hebrew name “pleshet” (invader) for the Jews’ then enemy, a Greek-speaking people called the Philistines. The region then remained a territory under various later empires, such as the Arab Muslim caliphates, the Ottoman Empire, and the British – never as its own state.

  • B-but Zionism at its core is racism invented in 19th century Europe!” Zionism means a return to the historical Jewish homeland in any capacity, including the acceptance of an independent neighboring Palestinian state. Nowhere does the raw definition of Zionism exclude the possibility of a two-state solution, nor the equal rights of non-Jewish residents in Israel. The mantra “Next year in Jerusalem” and Hebrew backbone of Yiddish both show the Jews never lost their yearning for their homeland, even in “colonizer Europe”. You shaming Ashkenazim for Slavic and Germanic surname suffixes that were forced on them out of a need to either assimilate or wear their profession like a forehead stamp (Ruvinsky from Reuven and Goldberg for jeweler, respectively) says more about your privilege than where anyone’s ancestors originated.Zionism in itself doesn’t call for barring non-Jews from the Jewish state, it’s fringe radicals like the political leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky who proposed so with Revisionist Zionism – a territory and state-building movement that sought to alter Practical Zionism which focused on society building. The Practical Zionist group World Zionist Organization ostracized Jabotinsky for his radical aspirations for Jewish purity in Israel. A two-state solution would therefore help realize the Zionist vision by granting a state exclusively for Palestinians less pressured to re-claim historic Israel. In time, if relations become normalized, those Palestinians who so choose could even apply for Israeli citizenship. Zionism doesn’t by definition exclude any of these possibilities.

At the end of the day, this is just a guide – wishing everyone all the best in weeding out the rare human capable of registering nuance over the knee-jerk “social justice” binary. When people inevitably question your sources for being in whatever manner they imagine “puppeteered by Zionists”, prompt them to provide alternatives that aren’t Al-Jazeera or their European affiliates.

Also, should you run into one of those flat-out denying the October 7th massacre even occurred – here we go.

Perhaps most importantly, since these naysayers love to insist we always pull this card, all of these points can be made without a single mention of “antisemitism”.

Debating anti-Zionist Jews

When debating with Jewish anti-Zionists, present the above arguments while keeping in mind the following:

  • Don’t shame them as “self-hating Jews” or the like – this will only turn them off further.
  • Avoid all-or-nothing language, like “all Jews” or “all Muslims” – this decreases credibility by erasing nuance.
  • The idea that Mizrahim are the “real Jews” indigenous to Israel while Ashkenazim are “white European foreigners” both erases Ashkenazi roots and hypocritically suggests that while a Jew with diaspora history in Iraq or Iran (not in or even adjacent to historical Israel) has more right to Israel simply because they spent time in Muslim countries, and Muslims now claim the entire Middle East. While you’re free to believe diaspora Jews haven’t the inherent right to return to Israel, this should then apply to all Jews aside from those whose families have lived in historic Israel since before the Roman expulsion or the arrival of Arabs and Islam to the region.
About the Author
Sarah Katz is an author, screenwriter, and security professional with a bachelor degree in Middle East Studies from UC Berkeley and a master degree in counterterrorism. Her work has appeared in the Jewish Journal and Middle East Forum as well as Cyber Defense Magazine, Cyber Security, Dark Reading, Geopolitical Monitor, Infosecurity Magazine, ISACA Journal, 365 tomorrows, AHF Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review and Thriller Magazine. Her book "Back to the Tribe: Intersectionality through a Global Jewish Lens" discusses the dangers of stealth antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism on the Western left.
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