The other day I was having a conversation with a relative about the concept of anti-Zionism and how it relates to anti-Semitism. I hold the position that they are one in the same, while my relative felt that although anti-Zionism often is modern-day institutionalized anti-Semitism, it is not always the case. This whole conversation began when I mentioned how I had just heard of Pink Floyd boycotting Israel and how it had impacted my life knowing that a band I had once considered one of my favorites had no gone to the increasing pile of celebrities I had no use for based on them being anti-Semitic. The argument was presented, by others on the table as well, that there are plenty of Israelis who are opposed to the government, and they of course are not anti-Semites. So I spent some time thinking about this, considered their argument, and came to this conclusion. They’re wrong.
First of all, opposition to the current government or any government in Israel is not anti-Zionism. Although I don’t always appreciate the way people oppose a sitting President or government policies in the United States, I don’t accuse someone of being anti-American or unpatriotic when doing so. The foundation of all modern civilized countries is freedom. Freedom does not mean always liking what your leaders do and it does not mean you need to be quiet about how you feel. So opposition to government policy is not anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is at best a misrepresentation of Israeli policy in order to smear Israel’s image, and at worst a refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to have their own state. The latter is the key to my argument. Israel was formed, and still is a Jewish state. It is a state that allows other religions to live freely, despite the claims of the likes of Roger Waters and most recently Alice Walker, and it is a country that does not sponsor, support, or fund terrorist organizations. Israel is a democracy. Not the kind where the military will limit the results of power provided by the people in an election, and not the kind that elects fundamentally racist, bigoted and violent governments. It is the kind of democracy where people can live freely and with basic human rights.
The Palestinians in the West Bank were not even wanted by King Hussein’s Jordan in 1967, so when Israel captured the territory where they resided after the 6 Day War, the conditions of the people living there actually improved. Yasser Arafat plundered the funds of the Palestinians and took much of what was earmarked for their betterment and built his own little financial empire which consisted of among other things hotels in places like the Swiss Alps. An argument can be made that he did more to harm the Palestinians than any Israeli government ever could.
So when people proudly stand up and declare themselves anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, I hear the words Final Solution all over again. You want to criticize the government or its leadership, go ahead. But if you are going to oppose its very core I am going to call you what you are, a hater of Jews, also known as an anti-Semite.