Clarity is essential in talking about Israel, Zionism, anti-Semitism, and Judaism. Responsible citizens must make careful distinctions.
An op-ed entitled “Are Jews Safe in Europe?” appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer online on January 15, 2015, by Benjamin Weinthal, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Asaf Romirowsky, a fellow at Daniel Pipes’s rightwing Middle East Forum. The final paragraph not only merits response, but also circulation beyond the scope of the local audience. It reads:
“There are three lessons from the explosion of European anti-Semitism. First, hatred of Israel can no longer be separated from loathing of Jews. Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same. The hardcore anti-Israel protests that engulfed Europe showed that the demonstrators aimed to dismantle the Jewish state because of its Jewishness. . . .”
Anti-Semitism is a virulent systemic ideology of Jew-hatred resulting in destructive thoughts and actions perpetrated against people because they are Jews. Zionism as a national political movement was a nineteenth century response to European anti-Semitism by advocating a Jewish homeland in Israel.
The recent escalation of anti-Semitic attitudes and incidents in France is not unrelated to violence perpetrated by the Israeli government toward Palestinians. Yet still, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are NOT “one and the same,” as Weinthal and Romirowsky claim. Protests directed against present policies and practices of the government of the state of Israel for maintaining the illegal occupation of the Palestinians, denying their human rights, and violating international law are not inherently anti-Semitic. Attacking Jews because they are Jewish IS anti-Semitic.
Not all Jews are Zionists; nor are all Zionists Jewish. To conflate Judaism, an ancient religion with ideals of love and justice, with Zionism, a recent ideology now expressed in territorial expansion, power, and militarism, is to make an egregious error with tragic consequences for all.