• $2657812

    “Anti-Zionism is merely the latest variant of an old and persistent virus: anti-Semitism.”

    Nope. There are lots of non-zionist Jews in the world. 

    For easy reference, here are some pairs of words that are *not* synonyms:

    Israeli / Jewish
    Israel / Jews
    Zionism / Judaism
    Israeli / Likud
    Israeli / Netenyahu
    Zionist / Pro-settler

    The problem with conflating the meanings of these words is not that it’s dishonest or inaccurate — though it’s definitely the second and possibly the first.

    No, the problem is that it undercuts my ability to be supportive of Israel but not of Netenyahu’s foreign policy decisions. It undercuts my ability to be supportive of Jews but not support Israel’s actions vis a vis settlement outposts. I’m not sure *why* the columnist would want to limit the varieties of ways that I can support Israel and Jews, but that’s what confusing those pairs of words does. 

    In fact, there are lots of non-Jewish Israelis, and non-zionist Jews, and non-Likudnik Jewish Israelis, and Jewish non-Israelis. I am supportive of Israel’s right to exist. I am supportive of providing legal protections, inside and outside of Israel, for the protection of individual Jews, just as I am supportive of providing those protections for non-Jews. I also love democracy, and not bombing people unless you really, really have to. 

    And the fact is, we all know that the ‘being zionist is necessarily helpful to Jews and vice versa’ discussion is false. There are large swaths of anti-zionist orthodox Jews who believe that establishing a state in Israel is god’s job, not man’s. And there are lots of christian American zionists who really only support the state because they want Jesus to come back, at which point, of course, the Jews would be sort of up a creek in these Christians’ eyes.

    Israel is a country. It exists. Jews — everywhere — are individuals, and where they live they have legal protections. I am supportive of Israel’s continued existence, and I consider it to be dependent on retaining its standing as a democratic nation ruled by laws.

    A closing thought re: anti-zionism being anti-semitism — if what the author means by ‘zionism’ is ‘either exporting or not giving a vote to the million plus non-jewish inhabitants of the west bank’, and he’s committed to calling that anti-semitism, I live in Portland, Maine. I invite you to come up here and call me that to my face, rather than hiding behind the internet.

    • Natan Zeligson

      To hnice,

      I identify with many of the points you raise. As an Israeli citizen, I too am concerned by certain social, economic, and political injustices towards Israeli – Palestinians (Israeli Arabs overwhelmingly define themselves as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship), and towards non-Israeli Arabs (Palestinians). I sense you would agree that it is sometimes tempting but almost always counter-productive, to offer a simplified picture of the Israel-Arab conflict, rather than a more complex, sophisticated, and nuanced analysis, and that some of the comparisons you cite may be examples of the former approach.

      However, your claim that there is no relation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism reveals a very simple and shallow grasp of the history and indeed the very purpose of Zionism. I assume you need no reminder of the centuries of persecution faced by Jews for almost a milenium, preceding the Holocaust. Zionism was a response to this persecution. From it’s inception in the mid 19th century, the Zionist movement(s) was regarded as the most promising vehicle to promote the physical (and for some, the metaphysical/spiritual or religious) well-being of the Jewish nation.
      It is without doubt that had a sovereign Jewish state been established just a decade earlier, hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of Jews could have found refuge before and perhaps even during the war.

      With this in mind, what does it mean for someone to express anti-Zionist sentiments? It does not mean what you imply throughout your letter – a sense of shame, or profound discomfort, or even disgust vis-a-vis the policies and/or actions of particular Israeli governments and/or groups within Israel. What anti-Zionism is, is the denial of the right for Jews to have a nation-state of their own, a state whose raison d’etre was (and remains) to offer Jews a refuge in times of need. To suggest that anti-Zionism is nothing more than a synonym for disagreeing with the Israeli government, reveals an ignorance of both the sentiment and fundamental agenda of anti-Zionist groups worldwide. Anti -Zionism at it’s core is the claim that the Jewish nation-state should not exist. This position implies that Jews have no right to national sovereignty, and should rely on the goodwill of the world to guarantee their safety.

      Well, quite frankly, we’ve ‘been there, done that’. To suggest that only Jews should be denied the one place in the world in which their physical survival is given priority, is nothing if not anti – Semetic. It is also the essence of anti-Zionism.

  • Natan Zeligson

    To hnice,

    I identify with many of the points you raise. As an Israeli citizen, I too am concerned by certain social, economic, and political injustices towards Israeli – Palestinians (Israeli Arabs overwhelmingly define themselves as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship), and towards non-Israeli Arabs (Palestinians). I sense you would agree that it is sometimes tempting but almost always counter-productive, to offer a simplified picture of the Israel-Arab conflict, rather than a more complex, sophisticated, and nuanced analysis, and that some of the comparisons you cite may be examples of the former approach.

    However, your claim that there is no relation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism reveals a very simple and shallow grasp of the history and indeed the very purpose of Zionism. I assume you need no reminder of the centuries of persecution faced by Jews for almost a milenium, preceding the Holocaust. Zionism was a response to this persecution. From it’s inception in the mid 19th century, the Zionist movement(s) was regarded as the most promising vehicle to promote the physical (and for some, the metaphysical/spiritual or religious) well-being of the Jewish nation.
    It is without doubt that had a sovereign Jewish state been established just a decade earlier, hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of Jews could have found refuge before and perhaps even during the war.

    With this in mind, what does it mean for someone to express anti-Zionist sentiments? It does not mean what you imply throughout your letter – a sense of shame, or profound discomfort, or even disgust vis-a-vis the policies and/or actions of particular Israeli governments and/or groups within Israel. What anti-Zionism is, is the denial of the right for Jews to have a nation-state of their own, a state whose raison d’etre was (and remains) to offer Jews a refuge in times of need. To suggest that anti-Zionism is nothing more than a synonym for disagreeing with the Israeli government, reveals an ignorance of both the sentiment and fundamental agenda of anti-Zionist groups worldwide. Anti -Zionism at it’s core is the claim that the Jewish nation-state should not exist. This position implies that Jews have no right to national sovereignty, and should rely on the goodwill of the world to guarantee their safety.

    Well, quite frankly, we’ve ‘been there, done that’. To suggest that only Jews should be denied the one place in the world in which their physical survival is given priority, is nothing if not anti – Semetic. It is also the essence of anti-Zionism.