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Anti-Zionism Is Racism

Anti-Semitic attacks that kill Jews in a synagogue are fundamentally no different than attacks on Zionism—Israel’s right to exist. They’re both racist acts of hate.

Anti-Semitism calls for the annihilation of the Jewish people—whether that is by murder or destruction of the Jewish state. Those who call for endangering or eliminating any ethnic group—by either the political right or left—are guilty of racism.

What are the facts?

“The whole world must see that Israel . . . has the right to exist.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination—to the State of Israel in their millennia-old homeland. According to the U.S. State Department, anti-Semitism is a form of racism directed at Israel using demonization, delegitimization or double standards. This form of anti-Semitism appears in numerous guises—usually false accusations—from both the radical right and radical left. The objective of anti-Zionist attacks is to deny the right of the Jewish state, among all the world’s nations, to exist.

Attack #1: Israel is a colonial state. This assertion bespeaks a double standard, as well as a lie.  No campus demonstrators protest Turkey’s military colonization of Cyprus, nor China’s occupation of Tibet. Yet Israel is falsely accused of colonizing its own ancient homeland.  In fact, Jews are the indigenous people of Palestine—survivors of the oldest sovereign state in this land more than 3,000 years ago, with continuous residency since then. Indeed, Zionism is an anti-colonialist movement, having fought Roman, Crusader, Ottoman, British and Jordanian imperialism.

Attack #2: Israel stole Palestinian land. This attempt to delegitimize Israel ignores the fact that aside from private land holdings, the Palestinians have never had sovereignty over any territory. Therefore, they do not “possess” public lands in present-day Israel or Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The territory controlled by Israel today was settled on land that Jews owned or purchased, was public land granted by the British Mandate for Palestine, or was captured when Israel defeated invading Arab armies from Jordan and Syria in 1967—all legal acquisitions under international law, to be resolved by negotiations.

Attack #3: Israel’s claims to the Holy Land are religious based.  Many oppose the claim by some Jews and Christians that Israel’s right to exist springs from biblical authority. Yet Zionism is largely a secular movement, and Israel’s right to exist is also supported by indisputable legal, historical and humanitarian rights. While Israel’s state religion is indeed Judaism—and it is the world’s only Jewish state—it joins 40 other nations, mostly Muslim, that designate a state religion, also including Costa Rica and England. Above all, Israel is not a theocracy, like Iran, but a secular democracy.

Attack #4: Israel is an apartheid state. This attempt to demonize Israel is false on its face: Israel is the most diverse state in the Middle East. Its citizens of all races, genders, ethnicities and religions enjoy equal civil rights—more freedom than in most of the world’s nations. Arabs serve in Israel’s legislature, the Knesset and Supreme Court.  Yet who criticizes the Palestinians’ apartheid demand that all Jews be cleansed from their ancient biblical homelands of Judea and Samaria? Double standard?

Attack #5: Jews are members of a religion, not a real “people.” Whereas Jews have always been united by a belief in Judaism, the Bible speaks of Am Yisrael—the people of Israel—ancient Hebrews who built a sovereign nation, as well as legal, economic and social systems. Jews are also united by the Hebrew language.  Contrary to this delegitimization attempt, Jews are a distinct people who also share a religion.

Attack #6: Some Jews oppose Israel, so that can’t be anti-Semitic. Just as blacks, Muslims or any group can express unjust racial or ethnic bias against their own people, so can Jews. Jewish ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta sect members oppose a Jewish state before the Messiah arrives. Other Jews, such as members of Jewish Voice for Peace or Students for Justice in Palestine, object to Zionism based on the false and slanderous accusations listed above. The fact remains that specifically targeting Jews—and the world’s only national refuge for Jews—is a form of racial bias, in this case anti-Semitism.

Attempts to delegitimize Israel—whether in the United Nations, college classrooms or by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement—are markers of racist anti-Semitism. Good people will heed the 1967 exhortation of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy.”