Written by Deborah Fillman
How many times have American Jews heard this familiar refrain lately:
“Anti-Zionism isn’t anti-semitism!” Or “We’re not anti-semitic, we’re just anti-Zionists!”
I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt that they just don’t know what Zionism is, or what anti-semitism is for that matter, but in the wake of the atrocities of October 7th, I find I can’t, especially when one of the people making the claim is a sitting Congressman.
I’m not arguing that Massie himself said any of the following, but his post above certainly created opportunities for those who did, and he’s smart enough to have been able to anticipate that effect.
Here are some of the things people have been saying in his defense. They are the same things I’ve heard and read over a thousand times before from people who insist they’re “not anti-semitic, just anti-Zionist.”
“Zionist Jews have divided loyalty and are not patriotic Americans.”
First of all, this nonsense assumes there aren’t non-Jewish Zionists, which is false. Plenty of non-Jewish Americans are Zionists.
Second: Jews want to be, and have been, patriotic Americans since before the Revolution. A Jewish family is the only reason we have Jefferson’s Monticello to visit. Read all about Uriah Levy.
The thing is, not all Jews are lucky enough to be Americans, with freedom of religion and Constitutional protections. Jews also know that historically, no matter how accepted and safe we may have felt in our adopted home countries, we’ve not always remained safe over time. Antisemitism has consistently reared its ugly head, and we have learned not to rely on non-Jews to defend us against anti-semitic persecution.
Century after century, neighbors, friends, and governments for which Jews have even fought and died, have turned on us, scapegoated us, exiled and murdered us. Zionism is our way of saying fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
If you watch The U.S. in the Holocaust, you’ll see why even American Jews, as patriotic as we may be, will never feel completely secure in this country. FDR and the other allied leaders knew about the final solution for years, and yet stubbornly refused to grant visas to Jews desperate to flee Nazi persecution. Even after the war, when the full scope of the atrocities was revealed to the public, Americans refused to accept Holocaust survivors as refugees.
Most American Jews realize, on some level, no matter how patriotic we may be, we will always be at risk of scapegoating by our fellow Americans. As such, we tend to support Israel because we know, if we’re targeted again, Israel will support us.
“Israel only exists because of American aid!”
That’s just not true, but what does opposing Zionism have to do with American foreign aid? I know plenty of people who oppose sending aid to Ukraine, but they don’t call themselves “anti-Ukrainian.”
Arguments in favor of reducing or eliminating aid to Israel needn’t be “anti-Zionist.” I’m a Zionist, and I would like to see us eliminate all foreign aid packages. My argument here is not that we should keep funding Israel, it’s that Israel’ s continued existence is not dependent on that funding. In fact, Israel has asked to phase out economic aid over the years. Many Israelis are sick of the strings attached to the funding, and there’s a growing movement to reject funding because of those strings.
“Israel is going to drag us into a war!”
Which people in the Middle East have tried to “drag” us into war in the past? Hint: not the Israelis, but the Islamists. They have repeatedly attacked our marines, soldiers, and sailors, many of whom were acting as “peacekeepers” in the region.
Besides, no one can “drag” the United States into war. Our government would need to consent, and Israel would need to invite us. However, since Israel has fought several wars for its own survival, and has not once asked Americans to fight alongside them, I don’t see how anti-Zionists can justify this irrational belief.
If anti-Zionists really wanted to prevent war. they would be pressuring Muslim countries to stop funding and providing safe haven for Hamas leaders. If Hamas lay down their weapons tomorrow, and freed all the hostages, the war would be over.
So if you don’t want to get “dragged into a war,” either call for Hamas to surrender, or encourage Israel to defeat them because they are dedicated to destroying Israel first, but all of Western Europe second, and America third.
“Israel is committing genocide!”
Palestinian protests on college campuses are nothing more than anti-Zionism in action. We’re told the students are just protesting Israeli “genocide,” but what does a war 5,000 miles away that they also say has “nothing to do with us,” and is “none of our concern, have to do with Jewish, or even Israeli college students here? What possible good do the protesters hope to do by intimidating and threatening American Jewish students?
Imagine what would happen if protesters were targeting Christians, Muslims, or black students? Imagine Jewish students marching around campus chanting “From the river to the sea, Israel will be free?” Would the Ivy League presidents remember their duty to protect their students then?
What is a “genocide” anyway? Is it determine by how many die, or who they are? Would we accuse Israel of “genocide” if we heard all the casualties were Hamas fighters? If many of them are children, would it make a difference if they were from amongst the 40,000 trained Hamas fighters?
I am asking of course because it seems strange that all casualties Hamas has reported so far have been “civilians.”
The fact is, even if most of the casualties were civilians, the claim that Israel is perpetrating a “genocide” would still be hyperbolic. Israel does not want to exterminate the people of Gaza, even though 3/4 of them supported the slaughter of Israelis on October 7th.
Israel has had the power to annihilate Gaza for a long time, and it never has. Despite rockets raining down from Gaza daily for almost 20 years, Israel does not even have the death penalty for terrorists who kill Jews. It’s pretty simple: If Israel had “genocidal” intent, Gaza would have long ago become a parking lot.
Genocide is not just “a lot of people dying during a war.” We don’t just toss that word around as if war itself doesn’t kill a lot of people, but that’s what anti-Zionists do. If we were to apply their definition of “genocide” we would have to accuse ourselves of committing “genocide” against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.
The cruel irony is that the Jewish people have been on the receiving end of genocide and know better than most what one looks like. We also know Hamas and its main sponsors in Qatar and Iran still hope to complete Hitler’s “final solution.”
Using emotionally charged accusations like “genocide” provides Hamas with powerful propaganda. The goal of that propaganda is to turn public opinion against Israel to isolate the Jewish state economically and politically. Secondarily, Hamas hopes that by saturating American campuses with rhetoric that compares Jews to Nazis, American Jews in large numbers will stop wanting to be Jewish at all.
“Anti-Zionism is just criticism of Israel! I can criticize Israel without being antisemitic!”
That’s funny, I can criticize Israel and its government all day long and still be a Zionist. I can also criticize my own government, support its continued existence as a nation, and not be “anti-American.” Why can’t anti-Zionists pull this off with Israel? What is the reason they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?
The question seems to answer itself.
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A few final words:
Anti-Zionists may desperately want to believe they’re not anti-semitic, but it doesn’t really matter. By taking the position that Israel should not exist, or should not exist as a Jewish state, they are condemning all the Jews in Israel to be displaced at best, murdered at worst.
I have asked anti-Zionists many times what would replace Israel if there were no Zionism and no Jewish state, and they have no answer.
I have asked them which country would defend Jews in the diaspora, or take us in if we were threatened again, and again they have no answer.
These are the same people who don’t think Israelis have a right to defend themselves from Hamas now.
These are also the same people who don’t want to “get dragged into a war” defending Israel when Israel hasn’t even asked.
I have asked anti-Zionists if they would take in Jewish refugees from Israel if Palestinians, perhaps with help from Iran, launched a devastating attack against Israel, and the answer is a resounding “No!”
American anti-Zionists are just anti-semites, poorly disguised. None of their arguments hold up under scrutiny, and all of them ignore the reality on the ground that Hamas wants all Jews dead. There is no “one-state” peace deal where everyone holds hands and peacefully coexists in the end; This isn’t the Hallmark channel.
As long as Israel’s survival depends on it being a Jewish state, and as long as diaspora Jews depend on the existence of a Jewish state for our survival, Zionism will be necessary. In other words, anti-semitism makes Zionism necessary. Therefore, those who are anti-Zionist are anti-Jewish survival. I don’t know how I can make it more plain than that.