Anti-Zionism is just the innocent-sounding new incarnation of ancient Jewish hatred
All reasonable people agree that anti-Semitism is bad, but when they say this they are generally referring to anti-Semitism in its past forms, especially from the 1930s. Anti-Semitism, however, is constantly evolving: it adopts new language and imagery, often to disguise its true meaning. If we understand the mechanism by which it subtly takes hold in a society, we can identify and expose anti-Semitic meaning even where it has been cleverly disguised.
It begins, always, with the creation of a collective designation for the Jewish people, which distinguishes it from the population in general. In Christian Europe, the group was known simply as the Jews. In secular Europe of the 19th and 20th centuries, the same group became known as the Semites (and this designation was never intended for anyone other than the Jews). In the Soviet Union, which could not afford to be associated with the Nazi version of anti-Semitism, the group was referred to as both Zionist and “rootless cosmopolitan”. Today in the West the same group is referred to as pro-Israel Jews and Zionists.
The mechanism then projects onto that designated group the qualities that society finds most repugnant at a particular time. In Christian Europe, the Jews collectively bore the sin of killing Christ. For the Nazis, the Semites were an unclean race. For the Soviets, the Zionists were capitalists and imperialists. And today Israel is described as “born in sin” and the Zionists and the State of Israel as the ultimate violators of human rights.
Defamation and subsequent persecution are justified by appealing to the respected authority of the given time. In Christian Europe it was the Church. For secular Europe, it was “science”. For the Soviets, it was the Communist Party, and in our time, it is human rights.
The call to power from the highest authority lends an aura of rationality and respectability to the presentation of Jews or Semites or Zionists as a unique evil. Today, while it is socially unacceptable to be openly or overtly anti-Semitic, many in the West are deeply convinced that Israel, pro-Israel Jews and Zionists are the biggest violators of sacred human rights values. . Jews are again seen as an evil and a threat to the well-being of mankind.
Yet when the Jews sense the imminent danger, the anti-Semitic mechanism pushes them to abandon their own defenses by convincing them that by “withdrawing” from the collective, they will be spared. In Nazi Germany, Jews were first told that if they were the “right kind” of Jews – for example, those who fought for Germany in World War I – they would be spared. They were not.
Today in the West, Jews are told that they will be spared if they join anti-Zionist accusations. The Jews are urged to abandon their own defenses, which include the State of Israel itself, in favor of a binational state, which would in no time become a “River to the Sea” Palestine where the Jews are the minority.
So-called human rights defenders demand to know why Jews cannot simply “coexist” with Arabs, even in the face of the simple fact that binational states, everywhere and certainly in the Middle East, inevitably end. sink into bloody chaos. All that is needed for this beautiful utopia to come true is for the Jews to give up their bizarre insistence on having their own state where they control their fate and defenses.
Anti-Zionists are trying to convince the world that the fact that the targets of this latest form of virulent hatred – the Jews – bear a striking resemblance to those who were once targets – also the Jews – is pure coincidence. Another pure coincidence is that the charges against Zionist Jews bear a striking resemblance to variations on ancient themes of anti-Semitism – cosmic evil, bloodlust, money conspiracies operating behind the scenes.
Even if the anti-Zionists campaign tirelessly against Israel, they will claim to be fighting anti-Semitism. But it will be the old, easily identifiable genre that comes from neo-Nazis and right-wing nationalists, which is already commonly recognized as bad.
Anti-Zionism is just the brilliant and innocent new embodiment of the ancient Jewish hatred, anti-Semitism. And if the anti-Semitic mechanism is allowed to reach its full reach, what will happen is what has happened several times in the past.
If Israel is somehow wiped out in favor of a “Palestine from the river to the sea,” and the Jews are rendered defenseless, the world will once again look back on its actions in horror, bow its head and twist. hands and wonder how this could have happened and will never swear again. Again.
Dr Einat Wilf is a former Labor and Independence member of the Israeli Knesset and co-author of ‘The War of Return: How the Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Obstructed the Path to Peace