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The Bitter Truth About Anti-Zionism

Journalist Michelle Goldberg. Photo: www.michellegoldberg.net.

JNS.orgCollisions are often unintentional. Bumping into someone as you walk down a busy thoroughfare with one eye on your cell phone or scraping a parked car as you reverse along a narrow street are experiences most of us have had at one time or another. And generally speaking, because these events are accidents, reasonable people can reach an understanding in their aftermath.

So my concern when I saw the headline above a March 11 opinion piece in The New York Times by columnist Michelle Goldberg—“Where Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism Collide”—was that readers would interpret the word “collide” here as an indicating an unintentional accident, thereby reinforcing the widely held view that while antisemitism is an unacceptable, intolerable phenomenon, anti-Zionism is a legitimate, morally founded viewpoint that deserves to be engaged.

Hatred of Zionism isn’t a self-contained phenomenon that just happens to collide on occasion with hatred of Jews: That would amount to an unfortunate accident. But anti-Zionism and antisemitism are intimately related. Like non-identical twins, they have a handful of unique features, but fundamentally, they are the same. Hatred of Zionism is a natural outgrowth of the hatred of Jews. Of course, not all of those who define themselves as anti-Zionists see it that way, but that’s because they lack the historical and intellectual grounding to make that determination. When anti-Zionism collides with antisemitism, it’s anything but an accident.

Goldberg, it should be said, doesn’t belong to that crowd. While there was much to disagree with in her piece, I respected her frankness in admitting that as a secular Jew enjoying “the great privilege of an American passport,” she doesn’t feel much of a personal connection to the State of Israel. What she does understand is that the core fixations of anti-Zionism—and particularly its goal of dismantling the Jewish state and replacing it with an Arab one “from the river to the sea”—sound discordantly antisemitic in the ears of the vast majority of Jews in America and around the world.

“I can’t fault Jews who see, in the mounting demonization of Zionism, the replay of an old and terrifying story,” she wrote. “After all, anti-Zionism isn’t always antisemitism, but sometimes it is. And right now, some opponents of Israel seem to be trying to prove that the mainstream Jewish community is right to conflate them.”

This statement is basically true, but it doesn’t reveal the deeper, underlying truth, which is why Goldberg’s piece is fundamentally unsatisfying.

I’ve written in past columns about what I regard as the critical difference between “anti-Zionism” with a hyphen and “antizionism” without one. In historical terms, “anti-Zionism” was a phenomenon of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that commanded the loyalty of many Jews, who mistakenly if honestly believed that a separate Jewish state was not the answer to centuries of Jewish persecution. Not all the early generations of anti-Zionists were free of antisemitism—the Bolshevik ban on Zionist organizations and the study of Hebrew in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution was clearly antisemitic, for example—but there was a greater willingness to critique Zionism on the basis of its claim to be the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and less reliance on the conspiracy theories and crude memes that pass for critique on social media today.

“Antizionism” without the hyphen marks a new and far more dangerous phase, however. Essentially, it involves tearing up a complex reality in favor of an ideologically blinkered, implacably hostile caricature of what Zionism actually is.

Today’s “antizionists” have made their hatred of Israel’s sovereign existence the main focus of their antisemitism, which then uncomplicatedly imports older themes—Jews as disloyal to the countries where they are citizens, Jews as engaged in well-funded conspiracy to mask the malign effects of their actions—into its discourse. This explains, as Goldberg seems to realize, how a Lyft driver in San Francisco is moved to punch a passenger in the face upon realizing that he is Jew from Israel, or how a literary magazine in Brooklyn can abruptly remove an essay on Israel and cancel its Jewish author solely because of the pressure of a fanatical mob.

The other overarching issue that troubles Goldberg is the unresolved Palestinian question. Again correctly, she understands that a binational state is a pipe dream, arguing that if the Walloon and Flemish nationalities in Belgium can’t get along, how could Israelis and Palestinians possibly do so? Yet what she seems unable to perceive is that the Palestinian vision of what such a state would look like for its Jewish citizens was provided on Oct. 7 last year, when Hamas terrorists executed a bestial pogrom against defenseless Israelis and opinion polls in its immediate wake indicated overwhelming support for the atrocities among ordinary Palestinians. Indeed, it made a mockery of the notion of a binational state. From the river to the sea, a “free” Palestine will be a place where Jews are brutally subjugated as a prelude to their eventual expulsion or even elimination. The stream of statements from Palestinian politicians—not just Hamas, but also Fatah, and notably Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas—describing Israel as a colonial interloper, the Holocaust as a fabrication and the Oct. 7 pogrom as an act of noble resistance are all the evidence we need here.

Acknowledging this ugly reality doesn’t, it is true, automatically suggest how the Palestinian question can be resolved humanely. And for most Israelis, frankly, that is not a priority right now, as they understandably are more concerned with preventing another Oct. 7 from occurring. If that outcome could be secured through a political solution, then few would object. But such a solution is only possible if two conditions are satisfied: Firstly, that the Palestinians recognize Israelis as human beings with a right to self-determination in their historic homeland; and secondly, that any solution focuses on the physical separation of the two peoples, rather than attempts to bring them closer together.

For American liberals and progressives, among them many Jews, such a viewpoint is distasteful and jarring, to say the least. For Israelis, though, this is literally a matter of survival. Stop trying to kill us, let us live in peace, they are saying, and our guns will fall silent, and we’ll make a deal. That is the message the Palestinians refuse to hear, in large part because their political culture is saturated with antisemitism. For as long as the outside world mollifies them in this regard, nothing will change for the better.

The post The Bitter Truth About Anti-Zionism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

The post ‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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