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Michael Devolin

Anti-Zionism Is Antisemitism
By Michael Devolin
Apr 9, 2013 - 3:42:14 AM

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David Selbourne wrote that "few Jews, including anti-Zionists, can be convinced that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism in thin disguise." Of course, it is nothing new that Jews, many Jews in fact, condemn Zionism publicly. That such Jews feel no shame in doing so is their problem, not mine. It is a grand irony that a Jew should condemn Zionism. Zionism is a strictly Jewish virtue, so why would any Jew hate something strictly Jewish? I don't know the answer to this question, and probably because I'm not Jewish. But what I do know is that they have lots of non-Jewish allies, especially Muslims, and these allies were decrying Zionism long before Jews ever found it desirable to do so. Antisemitism waits for no one.

It has become fashionable to condemn Zionism publicly, especially in North American cities where connecting Islam to violent Muslim behaviour is forbidden by journalistic etiquette. OK to wave placards condemning Zionism (even though Zionism is an integral part of Judaism), but be ever so careful if you plan on pointing out publicly that most of the terrorist violence occurring around the world today is committed by Muslims. Apparently it's not politically correct to portray Islam in a negative light but it's politically correct to condemn Jews and Judaism.

I think of all those Jews who lived and died during the Holocaust and how it must feel for those who survived this horror to hear and see Zionism portrayed as an evil. Lord Jacobovits, once the British Chief Rabbi, remarked about "a holocaust mentality of morose despondency among our people." But what else should those Jews feel who cannot forget the Holocaust, who now see and hear Zionism, the virtue that saved so many Jews from extermination, being excoriated by the non-Jewish world as an iniquity equal to racism? In their time the common canard hurled against them was "dual loyalty" simply because most Jews, well beyond the mentality of their accusers, could see no reason to repudiate their Judaism in order to prove their fidelity to Germany and the German people. The anti-Semites of their time chose to attack Judaism (within which Zionism abides), as though Judaism and the Jewish identity were a threat to the German progressive. This was before the establishment of the modern State of Israel, before Zionism was realized by post WW2 anti-Semites as the next target for vilification of the Jew and his Judaism.

Theodore Herzl is commonly referred to as the author of "modern Zionism." But every Jew knows deep within his heart that Zionism existed long before Mr. Herzl was forced to invent it anew. No prudent anti-Semite would dare refer to Abraham and Moses as Zionists simply because those two Jewish patriarchs have always been portrayed by Christianity and Islam as inspiring to those faiths respectively, as though their place in Jewish history was not as important as their place in the histories of Christianity and Islam. Because the Jews rejected both Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed, Christians and Muslims consequently began misrepresenting Abraham and Moses as spiritually and morally superior to traditional Judaism and more attuned to the heavenly perfections besought by Jesus and Mohammed. Hence, the great Zionist undertakings of Abraham and Moses are now regarded by many non-Jewish thinkers as perhaps hyper-spiritual behaviour, as though beyond the human domain and not so quotidian as Israeli tanks and fighter jets moving into Gaza. Both undertakings are for the sake of the survival of the Jewish people and therefore part of Judaism, past and present.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft opined in his polemical work The Controversy of Zion that "[Yitzhak] Rabin barely concealed either his glee at the assassination of one Islamic leader and enemy of Israel...or the fact that it was the work of Israeli agents." Poor Geoffrey could not abide the idea of Jews killing their enemies and feeling happy with such triumphs. Never mind that those same Islamic leaders assassinated wanted the same fate for every Jew in Israel. Mr. Wheatcroft felt more at ease with Jews being the victims of Islamic terrorists than Islamic terrorists reaping the whirlwinds they sowed.

The essence of Zionism is the virtue of Jews inhabiting the land of Israel, whether the non-Jewish world approves of the idea or not. Anything less courageous, any movement without the Torah's peculiar and providential intransigency is not Zionism. And any criticism of this inhabitancy, any castigation of this providential intransigency, is anti-Jewish hatred. To be a Zionist, in my opinion, to be a real Zionist, is to live and survive one's enemies beyond the bounds wherein such castigation is given any measure of credence.

If Christians can purport that the Church of Rome has any rights to historical Jewish artifacts still in their possession, if Muslims can purport they have any right to worship their god in a mosque built atop the Jewish Temple Mount, then Israel's Jews have immeasurable rights to all of the Land of Israel and everything found therein. To deny this right to Israel's Jews is anti-Zionism, and anti-Zionism, as I've explained above, is therefore antisemitism.

Michael Devolin

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