Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

Anti-Zionism vs. antisemitism

A very good op-ed by Judea Pearl in LAT: Is anti-Zionism hate?

Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation — a collective bonded by a common history — and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.

Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character by denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.

Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations. …

Given this understanding of Jewish nationhood, anti-Zionism is in many ways more dangerous than anti-Semitism.

First, anti-Zionism targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish population of Israel, whose physical safety and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel’s sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns 5 1/2 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal defenselessness in a region where genocidal designs are not uncommon.

Secondly, modern society has developed antibodies against anti-Semitism but not against anti-Zionism. Today, anti-Semitic stereotypes evoke revulsion in most people of conscience, while anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in certain extreme yet vocal circles of U.S. academia and media elite. Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.

Finally, anti-Zionist rhetoric is a stab in the back to the Israeli peace camp, which overwhelmingly stands for a two-state solution. It also gives credence to enemies of coexistence who claim that the eventual elimination of Israel is the hidden agenda of every Palestinian.

It is anti-Zionism, then, not anti-Semitism that poses a more dangerous threat to lives, historical justice and the prospects of peace in the Middle East.

Of course, being LAT, they had to “balance” it with an anti-Zionist piece (linked from there). I don’t approve of competitions in victimhood and even if we omit arguments concerning equality and the right of self-determination, consider this: had Jews have a safe haven a decade before the founding of the Jewish State, perhaps millions could be spared.

As for the religious argument: typically, Haredi anti-Zionism is based upon the Three Oaths (Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 111a): 1) not to ascend to Eretz Yisrael as a group using force; 2) not to rebel against the nations of the world; and 3) that the nations of the world would not persecute the nation of Israel excessively.

Of course, anyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but to my imperfect taste, the persecution was a little too excessive throughout the centuries.


March 23, 2009 - Posted by | Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism | ,


  1. What makes your faith-/race-based claims to occupy by force a “holy” city any different than the faith-/race-based claims of Hitler to leibensraum? Zionists have their faith-/race-based writings; Nazis had (and may to this day have) their faith-/race-based writings. The name of the latter was Mein Kamph. As I see no difference, would you care to defend your position that there is one?

    Comment by john galt | March 29, 2009 | Reply

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