Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism by hkksew3563rd


									Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism
By Emanuele Ottolenghi
Reprinted from The Guardian (November 29, 2003)
     s there a link between the way Israel’s case is    others, not by the standards of utopia. Singling out     there were no Palestinians? You should be equally

I    presented and anti-semitism? Israel’s
     advocates protest that behind criticisms of
Israel there sometimes lurks a more sinister
                                                        Israel for an impossibly high standard not applied
                                                        to any other country begs the question: why such
                                                        different treatment?
                                                                                                                 outraged at the insinuation that Jews are not a
                                                                                                                 nation. Those who denounce Zionism sometimes
                                                                                                                 explain Israel’s policies as a product of its Jewish
agenda, dangerously bordering on anti-semitism.           Despite piqued disclaimers, some of Israel’s           essence. In their view, not only should Israel act
Critics vehemently disagree. In their view, public      critics use anti-semitic stereotypes. In fact, their     differently, it should cease being a Jewish state.
attacks on Israel are neither misplaced nor the         disclaimers frequently offer a mask of                   Anti-Zionists are prepared to treat Jews equally
source of anti-Jewish sentiment: Israel’s               respectability to otherwise socially unacceptable        and fight anti-semitic prejudice only if Jews give
behaviour is reprehensible and so are those Jews        anti-semitism. Many equate Israel to Nazism,             up their distinctiveness as a nation: Jews as a
who defend it.                                          claiming that “yesterday’s victims are today’s           nation deserve no sympathy and no rights, Jews as
   Jewish defenders of Israel are then depicted by      perpetrators”: last year, Louis de Bernières wrote       individuals are worthy of both. Supporters of this
their critics as seeking an excuse to justify Israel,   in the Independent that “Israel has been adopting        view love Jews, but not when Jews assert their
projecting Jewish paranoia and displaying a             tactics which are reminiscent of the Nazis.” This        national rights. Jews condemning Israel and
“typical” Jewish trait of “sticking together”, even     equation between victims and murderers denies            rejecting Zionism earn their praise. Denouncing
in defending the morally indefensible. Israel’s         the Holocaust. Worse still, it provides its              Israel becomes a passport to full integration.
advocates deserve the hostility they get, the           retroactive justification: if Jews turned out to be      Noam Chomsky and his imitators are the new
argument goes; it is they who should engage in          so evil, perhaps they deserved what they got.            heroes, their Jewish pride and identity expressed
soul-searching.                                         Others speak of Zionist conspiracies to dominate         solely through their shame for Israel’s existence.
   There is no doubt that recent anti-semitism is       the media, manipulate American foreign policy,           Zionist Jews earn no respect, sympathy or
linked to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And it is   rule the world and oppress the Arabs. By                 protection. It is their expression of Jewish identity
equally without doubt that Israeli policies             describing Israel as the root of all evil, they          through identification with Israel that is under
sometimes deserve criticism. There is nothing           provide the linguistic mandate and the moral             attack.
wrong, or even remotely anti-semitic, in                justification to destroy it. And by using anti-            The argument that it is Israel’s behaviour, and
disapproving of Israeli policies. Nevertheless, this    semitic instruments to achieve this goal, they give      Jewish support for it, that invite prejudice sounds
debate - with its insistence that there is a            away their true anti-semitic face.                       hollow at best and sinister at worst. That argument
distinction between anti-semitism and anti-               There is of course the open question of whether        means that sympathy for Jews is conditional on
Zionism - misses the crucial point of contention.       this applies to anti-Zionism. It is one thing to         the political views they espouse. This is hardly an
Israel’s advocates do not want to gag critics by        object to the consequences of Zionism, to suggest        expression of tolerance. It singles Jews out. It is
brandishing the bogeyman of anti-semitism:              that the historical cost of its realisation was too      anti-semitism.
rather, they are concerned about the form the           high, or to claim that Jews are better off as a            Zionism reversed Jewish historical passivity to
criticism takes.                                        scattered, stateless minority. This is a serious         persecution and asserted the Jewish right to self-
   If Israel’s critics are truly opposed to anti-       argument, based on interests, moral claims, and an       determination and independent survival. This is
semitism, they should not repeat traditional anti-      interpretation of history. But this is not anti-         why anti-Zionists see it as a perversion of Jewish
semitic themes under the anti-Israel banner. When       Zionism. To oppose Zionism in its essence and to         humanism. Zionism entails the difficulty of
such themes - the Jewish conspiracy to rule the         refuse to accept its political offspring, Israel, as a   dealing with sometimes impossible moral
world, linking Jews with money and media, the           legitimate entity, entails more. Zionism comprises       dilemmas, which traditional Jewish passivity in
hooked-nose stingy Jew, the blood libel,                a belief that Jews are a nation, and as such are         the wake of historical persecution had never
disparaging use of Jewish symbols, or traditional       entitled to self-determination as all other nations      faced. By negating Zionism, the anti-semite is
Christian anti-Jewish imagery - are used to             are.                                                     arguing that the Jew must always be the victim,
describe Israel’s actions, concern should be              It could be suggested that nationalism is a            for victims do no wrong and deserve our
voiced. Labour MP Tam Dalyell decried the               pernicious force. In which case one should oppose        sympathy and support.
influence of “a Jewish cabal” on British foreign        Palestinian nationalism as well. It could even be          Israel errs like all other nations: it is normal.
policy-making; an Italian cartoonist last year          argued that though both claims are true and noble,       What anti-Zionists find so obscene is that Israel is
depicted the Israeli siege of the Church of the         it would have been better to pursue Jewish               neither martyr nor saint. Their outrage refuses
Nativity in Bethlehem as an attempt to kill Jesus       national rights elsewhere. But negating Zionism,         legitimacy to a people’s national liberation
“again”. Is it necessary to evoke the Jewish            by claiming that Zionism equals racism, goes             movement. Israel’s stubborn refusal to comply
conspiracy or depict Israelis as Christ-killers to      further and denies the Jews the right to identify,       with the invitation to commit national suicide and
denounce Israeli policies?                              understand and imagine themselves - and                  thereby regain a supposedly lost moral ground
   The fact that accusations of anti-semitism are       consequently behave as - a nation. Anti-Zionists         draws condemnation. Jews now have the right to
dismissed as paranoia, even when anti-semitic           deny Jews a right that they all too readily bestow       self-determination, and that is what the anti-
imagery is at work, is a subterfuge. Israel deserves    on others, first of all Palestinians.                    semite dislikes so much. v
to be judged by the same standards adopted for            Were you outraged when Golda Meir claimed

                                                        Emanuele Ottolenghi is the Leone Ginzburg Fellow in Israel Studies at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and
                                                        Jewish Studies and the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

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