How Anti-Zionists Legitimize Anti-Semitism

Stand for Israel  |  July 16, 2019

A tourist photographs a sign painted on a wall in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem on June 5, 2015, calling to boycott Israeli products coming from Jewish settlements. The international BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign, that pushes for a ban on Israeli products, aims to exert political and economic pressure over Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories in a bid to repeat the success of the campaign which ended apartheid in South Africa. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Those who stand for Israel often wonder how best to combat those trying to tear her down. This can be done, of course, by sharing all the good that Israel has done and continues to do for the fraught Middle East and the rest of the world. But, JNS’ editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin explains, the battle against both anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism overall can be fought by properly labeling Israel’s enemies as those who spread hate speech:

It is, of course, a matter of no small irony that college campuses are among the places in this country where anti-Semitic sentiment has become commonplace, and where Jews feel the most threatened by a culture of intolerance. That institutions that are supposed to be strongholds of independent inquiry and progressive values have become the beachheads on this continent for the spread of what the State Department calls a rising a tide of anti-Semitism that has been sweeping across the globe is shocking. But for anyone who has paid attention to the academic world in the last generation, it is hardly a surprise.

The reasons for this boils down to one key fact: the growing popularity of anti-Zionism and the way that ideology has been used to legitimize anti-Semitism, and to create a hostile atmosphere in academic circles and on some campuses where Jews feel not only marginalized, but often also intimidated and threatened. Support for the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel (BDS) has not only gained a foothold in academia but in many university departments; opposition to its discriminatory goal and tactics marks both dissident academics and students as pariahs to be shunned, shouted down or worse, a situation that is particularly threatening to Jews.

The reason is clear. Jews were attacked for many reasons over the centuries—all of them having everything to do with the obsessions of the anti-Semites, and little or noting to do with what they actually did or said. But today, the State of Israel and its people and supporters are the stand-in for hateful Jewish stereotypes of the past.

In discussing this problem, it’s vital that we clarify some popular misconceptions.

What is anti-Zionism, and is it—as many of its less honest advocates claim—separate and distinct from hatred of Jews?

Anti-Zionism is opposition to a Jewish state, and is focused on activism and advocacy here in the United States—and terrorism in the Middle East—for the elimination of the State of Israel. It means singling out the one Jewish state on the planet for extinction and making it the only existing national political entity of the nearly 200 represented in the United Nations that is the focus of an international movement to erase it from the map, and whose birth in a postwar world in which various conflicts gave rise to scores of new nations is considered an original sin that must be reversed…

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