Sacks, of course, may not have chosen this title, but the title which makes the formal equation (anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism) is consistent with the tenor of the article. Sacks is saying anti-Zionists are anti-Semites. At the very least, he’s saying if you’re an anti-Zionist you’re automatically suspect for being an anti-Semite.
“Anti-Semitism is a classic example of what anthropologist René Girard sees as the primal form of human violence: scapegoating. When bad things happen to a group, its members can ask two different questions: “What did we do wrong?” or “Who did this to us?” The entire fate of the group will depend on which it chooses.”
And that makes Beinart’s point. Anti-Semitism is scapegoating the Jews for (God knows what?) The point is the scapegoat bears the sin of others: the scapegoat is either innocent, or not the main problem. And that’s very obviously not true about Zionism. It is Zionism that drove 700,000+ from the land and won’t let them come back; it is Zionism that engages in military occupation and oppression of millions for 50 years now. Opposition to that is not scapegoating the Jews. And by Sacks’ own definition that makes anti-Zionism not anti-Semitism.
Now can anti-Zionists also be anti-Semites. Sure. But that’s an entirely different question….it has NOTHING to do with anti-Zionism. The strong claim that anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism is a formal logical fallacy. It is entirely lacking in merit.
What about the weaker, factual claim that many anti-Zionists also happen to be anti-Semites. That weaker claim, of course, is in the prejudiced eye of the beholder…. In order to back it up, you’d have to do studies; and designing objective studies about such a thing would be very tricky. Sacks cites a 2013 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights study which surveyed the subjective feelings of 5,847 European Jews in an on-line survey. 66% of respondents reported anti-Semitism to be a problem. This included 35% of respondents who perceived any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Gathering data like this is important and necessary, but this study provides no information that would permit a conclusion that anti-Zionists are anti-Semites.