The Conflation of Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism Is a Propagandistic Lie
In the latest publicity stunt of its kind, with rapidly diminishing returns, the representatives of the Israeli state at the United Nations have taken to appearing with the gold star on their lapels reminiscent of those used during the Nazi persecution of European Jews in the 1930s.
“Never Again” was inscribed in the center.
The accompanying explanatory speech given by the ambassador ran along those central talking points, referencing the Holocaust over and over and likening it to the Hamas attack on October 7th.
The rhetorical implication is clear: political opposition to Israel is antisemitic. Subtlety is apparently not a priority of Israeli diplomats.
In a similar vein, the ADL, while it’s running its censorious political operations in the United States, routinely conflates legitimate political speech with antisemitism and all other manner of verboten -isms.
It’s time we stopped playing these semantical games. Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are two distinct concepts:
· “Antisemitism” is defined as “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group”
· “Anti-Zionism” is defined as “opposition to the establishment or support of the state of Israel”
The former is a millennia-old religious/ethnic prejudice; the latter is a political ideology in opposition to a political entity called Israel.
Opposing the activities of the Israeli state is not tantamount to hating Jews any more than opposition to the Kremlin is to anti-Christianity. Indeed, a large contingent of Orthodox Jews -- although they do not receive much corporate state media coverage due to the obvious narrative difficulty they present -- oppose the state of Israel on religious grounds.
Again, the point must be emphasized: these anti-Zionists are not just Jews, but among the most hardline, dogmatic, fundamentalist Jews on the planet. No one in their right mind, even if they think their political views on Israel are misguided, could honestly conceive of them as antisemitic.
This is basic stuff, such that a child could easily understand.
Of course, it’s not that the purveyors of this conflation don’t understand it; they cynically weaponize the memory of the Holocaust to use as political cover for the activities of the state of Israel.
There are many relevant ironies.
First of all, the conflation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism places Jews who live outside of Israel and have no political affiliation to Israel in a disadvantageous position. Why should an American Jew be necessarily, by virtue of their ethnic or religious identity, tied to a state thousands of miles away in an entirely different region of the world, which they may or may not support?
The second notable irony is that the “anti-colonial” so-called progressive ideology that has gripped the Social Justice™ left was very much fostered by the likes of the Anti-Defamation League -- which has, by the way, also consistently smeared any critics of its social engineering programs as literal Nazis.
As frequently occurs, the Social Justice™ beast loosed on the West has turned on the group that fostered it, and the ADL’s tired retort of “shut up, Nazi” to any deviation from neoliberal state orthodoxy has failed to produce the desired neutralizing results.
This was the central lesson of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” – one that, again, a child could grasp.
Further, the pro-Israel talking points employed by groups like the ADL and AIPAC to maintain American and European political support for Israel are themselves confused and convoluted.
Is Israel a modern, secular liberal Democracy™ in the mold of the West (“the only democracy in the Middle East,” as Americans are constantly reminded, in intended juxtaposition to the unwashed hordes of Islamics surrounding it) or is it a theocratic ethnostate as the “home of the Jews”?
The answer depends on which narrative is most advantageous to Israeli interests at any given time.
If it’s attempting to justify its military exercises using the Holocaust as political cover -- “Never Again” – then Israel is a theocratic ethnostate. If it’s trying to appeal to secular people and institutions in the West – including secular Jews – then Israel suddenly becomes a vibrant oasis of Democracy™ in the otherwise autocratic Middle East.
These are, again, childish semantics games with transparent political and social engineering applications that all of us should be able to see through and discard if we’re ever going to have a serious conversation about the devastating state of affairs in the Middle East for all parties involved.
Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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