Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Anti-Zionism as antisemitism

From the Boston Globe:
CRITICIZING Israel doesn't make you anti-Semitic: If it's been said once, it's been said a thousand times. Yet somehow that message doesn't seem to have reached the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who turned out last week to protest Israel's military operation in Gaza. As their signs and chants made clear, it isn't only the Jewish state's policies they oppose. Their animus goes further.
Amazing there's a need for such an argument.

There's something curious about this op-ed, though:
The claim that anti-Zionism isn't bigotry would be preposterous in any other context. Imagine someone vehemently asserting that Ireland has no right to exist, that Irish nationalism is racism, and that those who murder Irishmen are actually victims deserving the world's sympathy. Who would take his fulminations for anything but anti-Irish bigotry? Or believe him if he said that he harbors no prejudice against the Irish?
There's something very true about that, which we tend not to hold to. We tend to say, "of course anti-Zionism isn't necessarily antisemitism, but..." There is, as Jacoby points out, a way in which much anti-Zionism is necessarily so, whether it includes calls for Jews to "Go back to the ovens!" or not. It denies Jews the right to political powers which can only be found in a sovereign state.

On the other hand, Israel needed to be created while Ireland didn't. So there's also a way in which some anti-Zionism doesn't have to be antisemitism for that reason. But doesn't that seem like a fine line? Does it seem like anyone should be able to tell the difference easily? Aren't there implications to that? Frankly, I just don't buy it that much anti-Zionism is different from the way Jacoby describes it.

(Of course, not all criticism of Israel is anti-Zionism.)

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