When Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitic

Jerusalem's Walls from Yemin Moshe. Photo by B. Rubin

When medieval Europe’s elites were religious, anti-Semites attacked the Jews for their religion, charged the Jews with deicide, and accused Jews of killing non-Jewish children to use their blood to make matza.

With the rise in Europe of racial ideology, anti-Semites attacked Jews for being a despised race, charged the Jews with defiling the diaspora lands in which they lived, and accused Jews of being part of a conspiracy of world domination, that included both Rothschild bankers and communist revolutionaries.

The Holocaust discredited old-fashioned theories of racialism. And in the Christian West, the role of religious belief has been replaced by political beliefs. Now the dominant ideology of North America’s elite is DEI – “diversity, equity and inclusion”, which is based on anti-colonialism (the powerful and successful (because of past actions) are irredeemably bad, the powerless (regardless of their actions) are good; and a new racialism (a hierarchy of group identities, with the Jews and Israel as white, privileged, successful, colonialist settlers, at the very bottom of the new racial hierarchy).

In North America’s elite institutions, as Bari Weiss put it, “[DEI] replaced lots of things. Color blindness with race obsession. Ideas with identity. Debate with denunciation. Persuasion with public shaming. The rule of law with the fury of the mob. People were to be given authority in this new order not in recognition of their gifts, hard work, accomplishments, or contributions to society, but in inverse proportion to the disadvantages their group had suffered, as defined by radical ideologues. According to them, as James Kirchick concisely put it: “Muslim > gay, black > female, and everybody > the Jews.”

Today, anti-Semites do not attack the Jews for their religion, or their race; today’s anti-Semites attack the Jews for their national existence as a sovereign state, charge the Jews with genocide, and accuse the Jewish state, in its war against a fundamentalist Islamic jihad terror group dedicated to Israel’s annihilation, of intentionally killing Palestinian children.

For half the world’s Jews, who live in Israel, the turning point was October 7, 2023, with the Hamas terror attack that killed 1400 Israelis, mostly civilians, and took 240 hostages back to Gaza. But for Jews in the Diaspora, the turning point was October 8, the day after the attack, when the atrocities wee known, and before any Israeli retaliation. Unlike the united horror expressed against the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the Bataclan in Paris, the London Bridge attack, or the ISIS atrocities, Jews living in the West saw in the cities where they live celebratory demonstrations, declarations by university professors in favour of these heroic acts of “decolonization”, and support for a fundamentalist Islamic jihad terror group dedicated to Israel’s annihilation.

In Israel, with all the terrible consequences, the Jews, sovereign in their own land, can at least fight back against Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iran. In the Diaspora, Jews are forced back into old habits: some rely on appealing to government authorities for protection against the new anti-Semitism fueled by prevailing ideologies; some Jews try to distance themselves from Israel and the Jewish people, and publicly declare their allegiance to the anti-Zionist position, hoping to win favour and save themselves. Many Diaspora Jews, however, simply hunker down, keep a low profile, try to stay out of the fight, hope somehow the troubles will pass, and that they will be immune. They try not to think about the long history of the Jewish people before them, and everything that led to the rise and the success of modern Zionism, and the rebirth of the Jewish people as the world’s only sovereign Jewish nation state.

About the Author
Benjamin Rubin was Chair of Limmud Toronto 2018, elected to Zionist Congress, and VP of Canada-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Under his pen name eBenBrandeis, he composes YouTube poems, translated from Hebrew a pre-war Pinsk biography, edited and published a book of contemporary Jewish humour, and created, a Zionist conceptual art project. Since retiring from the practice of law, he and his wife split their time between Toronto and Tel Mond. He has an abiding interest in Israeli contemporary music, the Golden Age of Hebrew poets from Andalusia, and the Muslim-Christian-Jewish convivencia of Spain. Writer, producer and director of the Zoom teleplay series, “Golden Age Travel”, about 12th century Hebrew poet and Arabic Jewish philosopher, Yehuda HaLevi, travelling through time. Episodes of the series have been performed online at Limmud Festivals in Toronto, Boston, Seattle and Winnipeg. GAT episode VI, "Berlin 28, Paris 38, Jerusalem 61" was premiered at Limmud Toronto November 2021.
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