Against Zionism—and Anti-Zionism Too

And what of anti-Zionism? ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt
insists that “anti-Zionism is
antisemitism, full stop”; a view that appears to animate pretty much
every mainstream
U.S. Jewish organizational leader, countless political pundits, and some of the
wealthiest donors to America’s most prestigious universities. Lately,
some conservative writers, including the neocon Joshua Muravchik writing in The
Wall Street Journal, have taken the view that “some say that anti-Zionism isn’t
tantamount to antisemitism. If so, it’s worse.… The fulfillment of anti-Zionism means
nothing less than a second Holocaust.” Pish-posh, says JVP: Anti-Zionism is merely “a loose term referring
to criticism of the current policies of the Israeli state, and/or moral,
ethical, or religious criticism of the idea of a Jewish nation-state.”

The distinctions
sound pretty clear on paper but, IRL, perhaps not so much. Writing in The
author Lux Alptraum describes a “war raging within my synagogue” between its self-proclaimed
Zionists and anti-Zionists. What upsets Alptraum is that rarely are the two
sides “actually in disagreement about their ultimate hopes for Israelis and
Palestinians.… The arguments that have unfolded are rarely about substantive
issues like a cease-fire, hostage return, or Palestinian human rights. More
often than not, it feels far more like people are simply fighting over the use
of the labels ‘Zionist’ and ‘anti-Zionist,’” which she sees as being “wielded
as a way of closing off any dissent, packaged into simplistic catchphrases that
only make sense if you already know what the speaker understands Zionism or
anti-Zionism to mean.” Similarly, Rabbi Emily Cohen, who works at an Upper West Side Reconstruction synagogue, notes that she
has “heard people who identify as
Zionist and who identify as anti-Zionist say the same thing
about what they think should happen in Israel and Palestine. I’ve heard people
who are anti-Zionists identify with what I would describe as Zionist views, and
I’ve heard people who are Zionists advocate for what I would describe as
anti-Zionist positions.”

Brooklyn College professor
Louis Fishman, who describes himself as a “post-Zionist,” worries that the “pro-Palestine bar of acceptance for Jews is not based on
shared values of peace, equality, and human rights. It is based on one simple
question: Are
you willing to separate yourself not just from Israelis but from the Jewish
people at large, who overwhelmingly sympathize with Zionism?” Fishman laments that in his
experience, it is necessary, 
for Jews to be welcomed in pro-Palestinian groups and organizations, to “declare
vociferously that you’re anti-Zionist and renounce your support for any Jewish
political presence in the territory of Israel-Palestine.” One can see the logic of what
he describes in action in the writings of the Palestinian author Miriam
Barghouti, who, speaking for the popular “intersectional” view among
wrote, “Being
a feminist and a Zionist is a contradiction in terms because the Zionist
feminist is complicit in propagating supremacy and domination over a people on
the one hand, while on the other hand calling for an end to patriarchy.”