Keegan Nazzari

Yes, Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism

Many who hate Israel are open about being antisemites, but not all. Outside the Muslim and Arab worlds, and especially here in the West, openly spouting obvious antisemitism isn’t often stigmatised. This leads many to claim that “antizionism isn’t antisemitism” and the related claim that “Zionism isn’t part of Judaism/Jewish”. These are both false; here’s why:

Antisemitism is a form of bigotry that is specifically directed at Jews. Or, as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines it, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Zionism is the movement and associated ideology that sought to establish a Jewish state in the land of Israel, and since the re-establishment of Israel, has supported its continued existence. Anti-Zionism is, unsurprisingly, the opposition to Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state. Singling out Israel for criticism not given to other nations is thus a form of antisemitism. Denying Israel’s right to exist, unless the denier is an anarchist who opposes the existence of all states, is therefore an expression of antisemitism.

But what about the claim that Zionism and Judaism are not related or even further incompatible beliefs?

“אם אשכחך ירושלים תשכח ימיני” Or in English, “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [it’s skill/how to work]” from Tehilim (Psalms) 137.5, is recited on Tisha B’av (ninth day of the month Av, and mournful anniversary of the destruction of both Temples), before the Birkat Hamazon (blessing after food) and by the groom at his wedding. “לשנה הבאה בירושלים” Or in English, “Next year in Jerusalem” is a phrase sung to conclude both the Pesach Seder and the Neila, the final mandated prayer on Yom Kippur.The truth is that Judaism demands Zionism. The rebuilding and return to a Jewish state in (ארץ ישראל) the Land of Israel is prayed for all the time by observant Jews. The yearning for it and the beliefs and practices of Judaism are inextricable.

“Well what about anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews, like Satmar or Neturei Karta?” those trying to justify their antisemitism will often ask.

Firstly, it must be understood that Haredi Jews (sometimes called Ultra-Orthodox by outsiders) make up a minority of Jews both in Israel and globally. Secondly, few take the extreme position of Neturei Karta, who are looked at extremely disfavourably by most other Jews and have taken part in such disgusting events as the “International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust” (more commonly known as the Holocaust Denial Conference), which was organised by and held in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Most of those described as “anti-Zionist” should more accurately be described as non-Zionist, such as Satmar. Who, despite not explicitly advocating for or endorsing the existence of the modern State of Israel, do not call for it to be destroyed as Neturei Karta do and have in the past denounced the anti-Zionist rhetoric and protests of Neturei Karta. Finally, the description above of groups like Satmar and Neturei Karta being non-Zionist and anti-Zionist, respectively, applies only to political Zionism. Both groups are eschatologically Zionist in that their vision of the ultimate future, in Judaism referred to as the Messianic age, involves the in-gathering of the Jews and Ten Lost Tribes to the Land of Israel, the re-establishment of the Israeli monarchy and rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. These are promises made by Hashem through his prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, etc.

Zionism is essential to Judaism; the majority of Jews worldwide are Zionists, and even the beliefs of groups like Satmar and Neturei Karta (and finally, an apology to the former for mentioning them in the same breath as the latter) only conflict with Zionism at this time.

Despite the insistence of so-called anti-Zionists, they are indeed engaging in antisemitism, and their attempt to use Haredi Jews to justify their bigotry is in vain. Singling out Israel, the lone Jewish state, to oppose its right to exist can be nothing other than vile antisemitism.

About the Author
Keegan lives in Perth, Australia and is a student aspiring towards a career in journalism. He loves discussing theology, hoping to convert to Judaism in the future, and also politics, especially Australian, Israeli and American.