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Anti-Zionism is an abhorrent ideology, regardless of antisemitism

Mar 19, 2024 | Oved Lobel

(image: Antoni Mantorski/Shutterstock)
(image: Antoni Mantorski/Shutterstock)

Algemeiner – 18 March 2024

 

The claim that “anti-Zionism is not antisemitism” is often used as a defense by anti-Israel activists. Even if this were true — and in most cases, it is not — the claim still presupposes that by virtue of not being antisemitic, anti-Zionism is therefore a normal and legitimate political position.

Anti-Zionism, however, is a fundamentally illegitimate and abhorrent ideology in its own right.

Having fulfilled its purpose with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and its acceptance at the United Nations, “Zionism” means that the Jewish State should continue to exist — like every other internationally-recognized country.

The term Zionism has no relevant meaning anymore, besides upholding the continued existence of Israel.

The “anti-Zionist” movement today demands the opposite. Aside from being an explicit rejection of the entire post-World War II international order in its call to destroy a long-standing UN member state, anti-Zionism is functionally a call for the death, expulsion, or subjugation of all Israel’s Jewish citizens.

As the Jews would not go quietly without a fight, it is also functionally a call for the death and displacement of millions of Arabs in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon.

Some ardent anti-Zionists argue that their cause is just another “national liberation movement,” akin to anti-apartheid activism in South Africa, and anti-colonial independence movements elsewhere. This is a severely flawed analogy for a variety of reasons, not least because these movements never called for the destruction of the metropoles they were connected to, or, in the case of South Africa, for the destruction of the country.

The only contemporary parallel with anti-Zionism is the Russian imperial attitude towards Ukraine, and consequent genocidal attempt to destroy it. However, anti-Zionism, unlike Russian imperialism, is a global and popular ideology, and is therefore a unique phenomenon in world affairs.

Anti-Zionism should be as beyond the pale as Russia’s imperialist desire to destroy Ukraine, yet anti-Zionism is treated as a normal political opinion. It is notable that, alone among ideologies, peoples, and states, only Jewish national identity and the existence of a Jewish State is so widely impugned across the world.

The despicable ideology of anti-Zionism comes in two variants, both of which are based on distinct delusions that nevertheless would lead to the same horrific outcome.

The first and more honest of these strains is that of the Arab and Muslim world, which generally believes, incorrectly, that all Israeli Jews are foreign “colonialists” and therefore all dual citizens with second passports, and that if they are killed and terrorized enough, the remainder will eventually decide it is not worth the trouble and return to their countries of origin.

In fact, 20% or less of Israel’s population have more than one passport; most Israelis were born there and have never lived anywhere else. Additionally, Israelis have no common country of origin, and no country would be willing to take in millions of Jewish refugees. Finally, Jewish national identity is real, and Jews are deeply attached to Israel, so Israelis will fight resolutely and, because they have nowhere to go, desperately in its defense.

This strain of anti-Zionism, which encompasses almost the entire Palestinian national movement, has made it quite clear for decades in word and deed that the entirety of the land “from the river to the sea” must be cleansed of Jews, one way or another.

The October 7 massacre and kidnapping and the consequent humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of Israel’s defensive war against Hamas are the direct result of this strain of anti-Zionism. So is the entire nearly century-long Palestinian predicament. Anti-Zionism, not Zionism, has been the cause of every Palestinian refugee and death since before the establishment of Israel.

The second strain of anti-Zionism is the even more delusional Western form, the advocates of which insist that all they want is to dissolve Israel into a single “democratic” state of Palestine, with equal rights for both Jews and Arabs. Of course, there is no prospect of any such “democratic” Palestine: only the brutal, theocratic dictatorship of the terrorist organization Hamas or the thuggish autocracy of the PLO.

These Western anti-Zionists are apparently unaware that fewer than 10% of Palestinians support such a goal. Moreover, not only is much of the Palestinian national movement eliminationist, as mentioned above, but according to surveys on traditional antisemitic beliefs unrelated to Israel or its activities, Palestinians are among the most antisemitic people in the world.

Why Israel’s Jews would repudiate their national identity and suicidally dissolve their state to become a minority among such a people, is a question these anti-Zionists appear too detached from reality to answer.

The bottom line is that Israel has existed as a legal fact for 75 years, and calling for its destruction or dissolution is extreme, immoral, illegitimate, and a recipe for endless violence.

If the massacres and kidnappings on October 7 and the humanitarian consequences of Israel’s war of self-defense in Gaza are not desirable outcomes — and if people still believe in the international order and the illegitimacy of advocating genocide and the destruction of recognized UN member states — then anti-Zionist advocacy of any sort must be socially and politically stigmatized regardless of whether anti-Zionism is considered antisemitic.

Oved Lobel is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

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