Debunking the myth that anti-Zionism is antisemitic

Protesters in New York City call for a boycott of Israel in 2016. (photo: Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)
All over the world, it is an alarming time to be Jewish – but conflating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred is a tragic mistake.

By Peter Beinart | The Guardian | Mar 7, 2019

I don’t consider Israel an apartheid state. But its ethnic nationalism excludes many of the people under its control.

It is a bewildering and alarming time to be a Jew, both because antisemitism is rising and because so many politicians are responding to it not by protecting Jews but by victimizing Palestinians.

On 16 February, members of France’s yellow vest protest movement hurled antisemitic insults at the distinguished French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. On 19 February, swastikas were found on 80 gravestones in Alsace. Two days later, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, after announcing that Europe was “facing a resurgence of antisemitism unseen since World War II”, unveiled new measures to fight it.

Among them was a new official definition of antisemitism. That definition, produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016, includes among its “contemporary examples” of antisemitism “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination”. In other words, anti-Zionism is Jew hatred. In so doing, Macron joined Germany, Britain, the United States and roughly 30 other governments. And like them, he made a tragic mistake.

Anti-Zionism is not inherently antisemitic – and claiming it is uses Jewish suffering to erase the Palestinian experience. Yes, antisemitism is growing. Yes, world leaders must fight it fiercely. But in the words of a great Zionist thinker, “This is not the way”.

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