Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic?

In the myriad internet forums that abound today, the question of whether it is anti-Semitic if one is an anti-Zionist comes up with monotonous regularity.

More often than not, the question is asked by those who wish to hear that such is not the case and it is often a precursor for some heart-felt Israel-bashing. Thus, if it is not anti-Semitic to be anti-Zionist, then the hate-fest against the Jewish state using a term which offends sensibilities less, can proceed unhindered.

Below, I have laid out why those who might want to disparage or delegitimise the Jewish state might want to reflect on what it is they are actually saying and to posit that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are but two sides of an ugly coin.

Anti-Semitism is everywhere and always defined as hatred of Jews.

Anti-Zionism is used to conceal hatred of Jews.

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews without a country.

Anti-Zionism is hatred of Jews with a country.

Anti-Semitism focused upon the Jewish people.

Anti-Zionism focuses on the Jewish state consisting of 6 million Jewish people.

Anti-Semitists evokes imagery of Jewish fascism, extremism, death and genocide based on ethnicity

Anti-Zionists evoke images of anti-Semitic imagery and metaphors based on politics.

European anti-Semitism referred more explicitly to racial and cultural, rather than religious, antipathy to Jews.

Muslim anti-Zionism refers explicitly to passages of the Koran such as the Koran-inspired allegation that Israelis are allegedly told by rabbis that if they die while killing Palestinians they will go straight to paradise.

Anti-Semitism lauds cartoons depicting Israelis and other Jews with Nazi-style uniforms and swastikas as standard fare.

In anti-Zionism, the Arab admirers of the Third Reich are totally effaced.

Traditionally, anti-Semitism incuded hallmarks like:

  • Usurpers in countries they live in
  • timeless conspiracy theory of undue and unseen Jewish influence politically or economically
  • denying the reality and scope of the Nazi Holocaust
  • branding Jews as “Christ-killers”
  • accusing Jews of usury
  • depicting Jews as dishonest, treacherous, and evil

Today, anti-Zionism includes hallmarks like:

  • denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (because they are usurpers)
  • using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis (conspiratorial allegation of ancient tropes)
  • drawing comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy and that of the Nazis ( Jews are not only alleged “Christ killers’, but also alleged killers of non-Christians in Arab lands)
  • designating Jews, far from being victims of the Nazis, as Nazi collaborators who now carry on their tradition (denying the reality and scope of the Holocaust)
  • designating Israelis will succeed too well in activities with which Jews are more traditionally associated — in the factory, the counting house, and the marketplace – and other peaceful methods to pursue its nefarious design of penetrating and dominating the Arab world.
  • the UN-sponsored Durban Conference against racism of September 2001, which denounced Zionism as a “genocidal” movement, practicing “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians (Jews as evil).

There is no imaginary watertight compartment separating Israel, realised, in part, through political Zionism, from the Jewish People.

Thus, even though it is not a priori anti-Semitic, the calls to dismantle the Jewish state, whether they come from Muslims, the Left, or any other hate group, increasingly rely on an anti-Semitic stereotypization of classic themes, such as the manipulative “Jewish lobby,” the Jewish/Zionist “world conspiracy,” and Jewish/Israeli “warmongers.”

And finally, the more radical forms of anti-Zionism that have emerged with renewed force in recent years do display unmistakable analogies to European anti-Semitism immediately preceding the Holocaust as outlined above.

These include calls for a scientific, cultural, and economic boycott of Israel that arouse associations and memories among Jews of the Nazi boycott that began in 1933.

They also include the systematic manner in which the Jewish State of Israel is harassed at international forums such as the United Nations, where the Arab states have for decades pursued a policy of isolating the Jewish state in their aim of turning it into a political pariah.

Today, Arab “anti-Zionism” has helped to infect Europe with an old-new version of anti-Semitism in which Jews are rapacious, bloodsucking colonialists.

Today, anti-Zionism is much more than an exotic collection of radical-chic slogans chanted by the young and “woke” on university campuses.

It has become an exterminationist ideology among the disaffected and undereducated of the world, reconstructed in the Middle East and re-exported back to Europe resulting in the advocacy-centric media frenzies which apparently pass for the new norm of much of modern reporting.

In 2019, as ever, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

About the Author
Alan Meyer is a retired educator with an interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict, photography and Australian road trips.
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