Discussion Question: Anti-Semitism vs. Anti-Zionism

Anti-Semitism is a fear or hatred of Jews. Anti-Zionism is fear or hatred of a Jewish state, particularly Israel.

The question: is it possible to be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic?

I think it is but, depending on your terms, it may be quite difficult and there is so much overlap between the two it may be difficult to distinguish one from the other. I think that Gulf Arabs tend to be both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic.

I am most definitely not anti-Semitic; if anything I’m philo-Semitic. I also do not think I’m anti-Zionist. Rather I am indifferent to the state of Israel and hold the view, out-of-step for an American, that Israel is a state just as Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia are. The people who created the state of Israel do so in the way most states did: they took it by force of arms and the Israelis will keep it as long as they can do so by force of arms. Israel has its interests; we have ours. Sometimes those interests coincide; sometimes they conflict; sometimes we just don’t give a darn.

I am uneasy when we pursue Israel’s interests uncritically just as I am when we pursue the United Kingdom’s or Germany’s interests, particularly when they do not coincide with our own. I don’t think that makes me an anti-Semite.

5 comments… add one
  • Ben Wolf Link

    Zionism very much presumes jews have a right granted by god, to the land of Israel. I don’t see how any rational person could accept this uncritically, particularly an ally such as the United Stated. Our interests very much diverge from theirs.

  • Gray Shambler Link

    Ben, that reminds me of “manifest destiny”. We had to explain that to Natives with bullets.
    Why don’t we have a special word for hatred of them?
    Why don’t we have a special word to describe hatred of any peoples except Semites?
    Ok, I’ll answer that. The Jews have said that God created them first, as His people, a people apart, with a special burden to bear, persecution.
    The Nazis didn’t coin “antisemitism”, they practiced it,. But the word was coined by the Jewish people themselves, as a a tool to remind the world of the special burden they bear.
    The next time someone brings up the “Holocaust”, ask them , which one? There have been many. But only one was special enough to be remembered as THE Holocaust.
    Victim status is a useful tool. Being educated, wealthy, free, and a victim is a gift that just keeps on giving..
    Having said that, the Jews are a spectacularly successful people. Arabs are backwoodsmen compared to them, and will simmer and suffer and complain forever even with oil wealth.
    So successful they don’t need a word like “Antisemitism” to advance their interests anymore and should drop it.

  • Roy Lofquist Link

    “The people who created the state of Israel do so in the way most states did: they took it by force of arms…”.

    That was 3,500 years ago. The proper formulation for subsequent incidents is “they re-took it by force of arms…”.

  • steve Link

    I am always hesitant to criticize Israel as when you do so people will then claim you are anti-semitic. The problem is that we need to be able to criticize Israel, and US policy towards Israel, just like any other country, especially when leading politicians say stuff like there should be no daylight between the US and Israel when Israel is not even a reliable ally, more of a client state that has outsized influence on our policy.



  • Ben Wolf Link

    steve, I agree. Usually, when there’s something that’s become so taboo you’ll be destroyed for discussing it, that’s because the people doing the destroying know they don’t have an argument, and also know that they don’t need one because they can crush you if you get out of hand.

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