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Is declaring yourself an ‘anti-Zionist’ like declaring you’re a ‘Communist’?

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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LA Times editorial, re Tom Campbell, candidate for Republican nomination for Senate: 

We support Israel and believe Israelis have a right to live free from missile attacks and suicide bombings. We abhor terrorism and don’t want our leaders palling around with those who engage in it. But we are also convinced that it is possible to criticize Israel without being anti-Zionist. We don’t believe that public officials must be rigidly loyal to a single playbook of "pro-Israel" positions."

Weiss to pro-Palestinian American Jewish friend:

What do you think of the anti-Zionist word in mainstream discourse? Shouldn’t American pols be able to say they’re anti-Zionist? Or is that like declaring you’re a communist?

Friend:

I don’t consider myself a Zionist, but I don’t characterize myself as an anti-Zionist. More generally, I think it’s not all that useful in the mainstream discourse, though I have no problem with people using the term. But American politicians, I think, should be considering other matters–reconsidering our aid to Israel (a wealthy country), especially in exchange for nothing, using leverage with Israel about the colonial occupation, distinguishing between Israel and Greater Israel. Getting at what Israel does that violates all international law (and all human decency)–calling it what it is–is difficult enough. For politicians to start calling themselves anti-Zionist would, I think, kill the conversation. But I also think that that it’s good to have everything out for discussion. And those on the left who say the "unacceptable" today help move the conversation in new directions. I’ve been using unacceptable language for almost thirty years and took a lot of grief (going back to the word "Palestinians," which was totally unacceptable in the late 70s).

I remain stunned (in the positive sense) at the shifts in the discourse of the past three years or so. Unfortunately, they haven’t yielded anything concrete for the Palestinians yet. But they have yielded a new mood–and new tactics and a new framing, as in, if you’re not prepared to deal with two states, you’ll have to deal with one state.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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