The rage of anti-Zionism: When Jews are targeted for Israel’s actions – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on May 29, 2021

This months Israel-Gaza war released the floodgates. In the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, the US and beyond Jews have been beaten, threatened and verbally abused, while synagogues have been vandalized and frightening messages justifying the genocide of Jews have been posted on social media.

At the same time, violence and terrorism against the Jewish state has been endorsed by thousands of protesters, the symbols of the State of Israel have been publicly desecrated, and the Jewish state itself blamed for attacks on Jews around the world.

In London, a rabbi in was beaten and hospitalized by two assailants; several people in a convoy of cars driving through London, in broad daylight shouted F*** the Jews, rape their daughters, on megaphones; and a mob walking through London after a pro-Israel rally shouted Well find some Jews. We want the Zionists. We want their blood, in close proximity to police officers who said and did nothing.

At pro-Palestinian demonstrations, terrorist rocket attacks against Israels civilian population were routinely condoned; Israel was accused of genocide; Israeli flags were burned and dragged through the streets; and the Jewish state was routinely compared to Nazi Germany and the Third Reich.

In one appalling incident at a pro-Palestinian rally in London, an image of a Jesus carrying his cross and the words Dont let them do it again was held aloft, implying Israel was crucifying Palestinians just like the account in the New Testament of Jews being responsible for Jesuss death, an accusation that became one of the foundations of Christian antisemitism.

At the same rally, veteran left-wing political activist Tariq Ali explicitly linked antisemitism to Israel, saying Every time they bomb Gaza, every time they attack Jerusalem that is what creates antisemitism. Stop the occupation, stop the bombing, and casual antisemitism will soon disappear.

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The series of incidents described has gone in the space of three weeks from being a worrying if predictable sequence of events while the conflict between Israel and Gaza raged, to the most immediate concern for many Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

During the course of what was dubbed by the IDF Operation Guardian of the Walls and in its aftermath, antisemitic incidents spiked dramatically, and have now led to a tightening of security protocols in many Jewish communities fearing further physical violence.

Why is it that virulent expressions of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment appear to go hand in hand with a rise in antisemitic attacks?

How serious of a threat do anti-Zionism and its apparently concomitant phenomenon of antisemitism pose to Jewish communities?

And what is the future of anti-Zionism, and what impact might it have on the public debate and the political landscape in years to come?

GIL TROY, an author and historian, argued that anti-Zionism is by definition antisemitic, and that it requires mental gymnastics to claim that this is not the case.

The brute lashing out at Jews because of the actions of the Jewish state shows that there is an overlap between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, said Troy.

People start out disliking Israeli policy, talk about the occupation and other issues, and then go on to oppose Israels right to exist.

Troy said that if political discourse about other nation-states that are accused of human rights and civil rights violations, such as China, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and many more, turned to questioning those countries right to exist, then the challenges to the legitimacy of the Jewish state would not be exceptional.

But Israel is the only state whose right to exist is permanently challenged, said Troy.

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, was equally adamant that anti-Zionism is antisemitic.

Zionism is a core component of who we are as a people and how we identify as a people, said Daroff, and argued that as a consequence, when people deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination, it is in fact an antisemitic act.

Daroff noted that criticism of Israel is certainly not antisemitic, but, like Troy, said that disagreeing with or opposing a countrys policies does not usually lead to a denial of that countrys right to exist.

In much of the discourse, if you can call it that, many people have discounted the value of Jewish lives in Israel as rockets were pounding down, and spoke only about Israeli military actions and not about the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, he said.

That devaluing of lives here in Israel is definitely metastasizing into a devaluation of Jewish lives in US.

The connection, I believe, is clear, and one which political leaders and others should be aware of as they spew hate at Israel, because that hate flows down in popular culture to being hate against American Jews.

Dr. Shlomo Fischer, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and former lecturer at Hebrew University, argued that, conceptually, anti-Zionism and antisemitism are distinct and noted, for example, that some Jews oppose the Jewish state yet are not antisemitic.

Yet he also asserted that specifically denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, as anti-Zionism does, is indeed antisemitic.

The idea that opposing the existence of the State of Israel is not antisemitic has been adopted by some hard-left, progressive Jewish figures and organizations, such as the commentator and author Peter Beinart.

In an article for The Guardian in 2019, Beinart argued that since other national groups, such as Tibetans, Kurds, Scots and Catalans, do not have their own nation-states, denying one to the Jewish people is not unique or prejudicial.

More recently he has argued for a binational state of Israelis and Palestinians, which he said would preserve Zionisms ideal of establishing a Jewish home, although it would in practice eradicate the Jewish majority of that Jewish home, and deny the Jewish people control over its own destiny, another crucial tenet of Zionism.

Fischer asserted that the intense vitriol and violence of the anti-Zionists toward Jews at times of conflict between Israel and its regional enemies demonstrate that the two phenomena are incredibly hard to separate in practice, even if conceptually and in certain academic and intellectual spaces, there might be room for doing so.

People who shout anti-Israel slogans and attack Jews eating sushi in a restaurant in Los Angeles hold those Jews collectively responsible for the acts of the State of Israel, they think all Jews are connected to the State of Israel and therefore should be attacked, said Fischer.

In America, the level of physical violence toward Jews that has resulted from the outrage among left-wing and Muslim-American pro-Palestinian activists and supporters against Israel has rarely been seen before from this political quarter.

Daroff said the violence has caused a significant amount of insecurity within the American Jewish community and that American Jews are worried by the images of Jews being attacked and assaulted.

And the Israeli Consulate in New York has said that the pro-Palestinian protests are more toxic and violent than previously witnessed, specially noting that messaging at these rallies delegitimizes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

According to Troy, part of the reason for the intensity of feelings against Israel is that pro-Palestinian advocates have explicitly tied the Palestinian cause to that of racial injustice in America, which has been a central theme and rallying point for the progressive Left and minority groups in the US for several years, but in particular since the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last year.

There has been a profound shift in the American liberal community on racial issues, and the Palestinians and their allies have cleverly wrapped their cause into that, linking to the Black Lives Matter movement, he said.

Fischer concurred, asserting that pro-Palestinian activism has become a touchstone in progressive political circles, noting that the equivalence of Palestinians in Israel and Blacks in America has taken hold.

And Fischer added that the violence of elements in the racial justice and Black Lives Matter movements witnessed in the US last year, when people from these groups rioted and looted in several American cities last summer, causing widespread damage, has bolstered the notion that political violence is both effective and does not lead to consequences for the offenders.

But he also pointed to the anti-Jewish attacks and shootings perpetrated by far-right and white supremacist individuals that have taken place in recent years as another factor that may be inspiring the current violence against Jews from the other end of the political spectrum.

PROF. JONATHAN Rynhold of the Bar-Ilan department of political studies added another element, which is the intense anger of the American Left and many in the Democratic Party with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus warm embrace of, and alliance with, former president Donald Trump.

Trump was and is despised by Democrats, liberals and progressives alike as someone who encouraged and abetted white nationalism and intensified racial divides during his tenure as president.

Netanyahus close personal and political friendship with Trump not only helped alienate Israel from parts of the Democratic Party, said Rynhold, but aggravated the narrative of Israel being an oppressive, racist entity, and that the fight of progressives in the US for racial justice is akin to the fight of Palestinians against Israel.

By associating Israel with Trump and the Republican Party, the narrative of the American Left now resonates with more people, said Rynhold.

So where is all this leading?

Taking the Arab-Israeli conflict to the level of street violence, thats new; beating up a random Jew on the street because of the conflict is new, said Fischer. Maybe there have been sporadic incidents in the past, but not in this concentrated form. Random attacks are being legitimated or being justified by the perceived Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Rynhold worries that anti-Zionist sentiment and rhetoric which he said used to be confined to more fringe publications and politicians has got a foothold in the mainstream discourse through the far Left of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media.

He argued that traditional American liberals would not have been favorable to Netanyahu and his right-wing governments, but nevertheless would have been supportive of Israeli nationalism and its democracy.

But the new narrative is that Israel is a colonial, apartheid state, not a democracy, he said of what is now described as the progressive Left, and that the sympathies of the old liberals are being eroded.

Rynhold insisted, however, that Israel has a lot of agency to affect how much traction the anti-Zionist narrative can obtain, although he acknowledged that it can do little to affect trends such as the association of the racial justice movement and the Palestinian cause.

In particular, he said that if Israel had a more moderate government with at least some commitment to the notion of a two-state solution and made an effort to show it was trying to do its best to come to an accommodation with the Palestinians, the sting might be drawn from the fierce anti-Zionism on display of late.

He also said that the Israeli government should disengage from US partisan politics, noting that Republicans dont win all the time, and that the embrace of the Republican Party has damaged Israels standing with a large part of the electorate.

As a factor, anti-Zionist rhetoric is here to stay. Theres a duel of narratives now. Are we talking about two national movements, or the racial discrimination of one group against the other?

The more credible the two national movements narrative is and the aspiration for a two-state solution, the weaker the other narrative becomes. The record is on the turntable, but the level of the volume depends on how resonant different frames are, and thats partly dependent on what goes on in Israel.

Of the violence, Troy said that he is an optimist in that he does not think a new era of pogroms is upon the Jewish people.

But what he does fear is that the anti-Zionist rhetoric and sentiment which has spread so far and so deep among the progressive Left, especially among the youth and on university campuses in particular, will negatively impact young Jews.

I dont really worry this surge in anti-Zionism is an existential threat to Israel. What I do worry about is that these surges of antisemitism, judeophobia and Zionphobia are guided missiles aimed at the identity of young Jews, and so the existential threat is to the liberal Jewish US community and especially the youth, said Troy.

The greater, long-term danger is the intellectual and ideological assault on Judaism, Zionism and Zionist virtue, which could have a profound impact on the Jewish identity of those in college and those of a marrying age.

Many world leaders, such as US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have firmly defended Israels right to defend itself and denounced the antisemitism that has been expressed and perpetrated by anti-Zionists, but Israel in particular cannot take this for granted.

Anti-Zionism is gaining ground, and the impact is being felt on the streets of Western cities, among intellectual elites and on the airwaves.

Although still confined to relatively small sectors of most Western populations, the potential impact of such a movement on Israel and the Jewish people is severe.

Rolling back this growing tide of antipathy and animosity toward the Jewish state will be difficult, if efforts are not made now to address this worrying phenomenon.

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The rage of anti-Zionism: When Jews are targeted for Israel's actions - The Jerusalem Post

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