In the discussion about whether or not anti-Zionism is antisemitism, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism includes a series of examples to demonstrate where anti-Zionism is antisemitism. But some examples are obvious enough to not require guidance from the IHRA.
Vasily Grossman, the Soviet Jewish writer, said of antisemitism that it is a “mirror for the failings of individuals, social structures and state systems. Tell me what you accuse Jews of, I’ll tell you what you are guilty of.” This phenomenon can be seen in cases such as Bronx political activist Efrain Gonzalez, whose father was a Democratic state senator convicted of public corruption, calling Jews “the most corrupt real estate people in New York.” It can be seen in the example of Nick Fuentes, the Mexican-American white supremacist. And it can be seen in Arab, Muslim and progressive attacks on Israel.
Palestinians accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing and apartheid while having fully ethnically cleansed its own territories of all Jews, save their Jewish hostages. They accuse Israel of genocide while experiencing 300% population growth under Israeli control and celebrating the mass murder of Israeli civilians. Iran describes Israel as a cancer, but while Israel has developed a successful western economy, Iran is ever dependent on oil revenue and has left a trail of carnage in its wake in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Turkey accuses Israel of occupation, terror, ethnic cleansing and genocide, while occupying and having ethnically cleansed North Cyprus, terrorizing the Kurds and denying its own genocide of the Armenians. In the Arab and Muslim media, Israel is portrayed as bloodthirsty while their own countries remain mired in despotism and war. For some liberal westerners, Israel is a colonial, racist state, but their own countries’ histories of colonialism were far more exploitive and brutal and as evidenced by protest movements and crime rates, their own countries are hardly post-racial paradises.
The macabre comments and behavior of the pro-Palestinian crowds show that their anti-Zionism is not limited to opposition to Zionism. Protesters carrying signs equating Israel to the Nazis, equating the primary victims of the Nazis to their own murderers, appear designed to offend not just Israelis but Jews as well. Amnesty International darling Ahed Tamimi posted online “What Hitler did to you was a joke. We will drink your blood and eat your skulls. We are waiting for you.” From Queen Rania of Jordan saying she does not have enough proof of any Hamas atrocities, to pro-Palestine protesters in Germany chanting “free Palestine from German guilt,” to protesters in Sydney chanting “gas the Jews,” to an attempted pogrom in Dagestan, it is apparent that the existence of an Israel is not the only issue at play.
Missing from the mass expressions in support of Palestine, especially in the Arab and Muslim countries, is a near total disregard for helping the actual Palestinians. For all the claims that Israel is committing genocide, no Arab or Muslim country has expressed a willingness to accept Palestinian refugees, Egypt even stressing that being required to do so would be a cause for war. For all the threats of a second front with Hezbollah, its leader Hasan Nasrallah described the attack as not related “to any international or regional issue,” effectively leaving the Palestinians on their own.
Academics can debate if anti-Zionism is antisemitism. For those for whom no nation should exist along ethnic lines, anti-Zionism would not be antisemitic per se, but they should still explain how Jews can protect themselves without Israel, especially as Jews have come under attack in western countries that are meant to have equal protection under the law.
Some point to Jewish anti-Zionism to demonstrate that it is not antisemitism. Early Reform Judaism was anti-Zionist because Reform Judaism saw its mission as universal, not particular, and because Zionism could raise the dual loyalty charge, that Jews were more loyal to a Jewish political state than to their home countries. The pre-state Orthodox Jewish leadership for the most part was also anti-Zionist, because the early secular Zionists abandoned adherence to halacha, Jewish religious law, and thus Zionism was seen as a threat to traditional Judaism. However, the bulk of membership of these groups eventually came to recognize the need for Jews to have a homeland and the ability to defend themselves.
Left wing anti-Zionists may be driven by a general opposition to U.S. policy and Israel’s close ties to the U.S. It may reflect a natural inclination to support the underdog, which in this case they perceive to be the Palestinian side. But they should ask themselves as well, where should the Jews go?
People can split hairs about whether or not anti-Zionism is antisemitism. But when the criticisms of Israel reveal deep hypocrisies, range from sounding delusional to bloodthirsty, offer little practical support to the Palestinians, while non-Israeli Jews come under attack in western countries, it is not unreasonable for lay folk to conclude that anti-Zionism is indeed antisemitism. For those of us who watch the motley mix of people chant for Israel’s demise, who now have to be more wary of their surroundings when out in public and for those whose college experiences have been irrevocably harmed, we can draw the simple conclusion that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
Fourth in a series