Yesterday, the New York Times ran this front-page headline: “Anti-Zionism is Not the Same as Anti-Semitism.”
Here at Framing Israel we’re interested in language and rhetoric, so the claims of Times staff opinion writer, Michelle Goldberg demand our attention. She says, “The conflation of antisemitism with antiZionism is a rhetorical slight of hand that depends on treating Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish people everywhere.” This statement seems to be slight of hand, itself.
I would understand saying Israel embodies a 2000-year longing of Jews to return to their roots. Or that Israel embodies the modern Zionist hope for a home safe from antisemitism. I do understand that Goldberg objects to such Zionist themes and that she feels somehow implicated in what the Israeli government does.
At the same time, she tells us that BDS advocacy by new members of the US Congress is something that “American Jews have nothing to fear...” This appears right below the headline, in fact.
Goldberg writes that while some criticisms of Israel can be antisemitic, one can object to “Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot.”
But “entho-national” doesn’t describe Israel, which is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, democratic Jewish state. And antiZionism is not hard to recognize. It isn’t criticism of Israel.
Rather, antiZionists believe there should no majority Jewish country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
There can be a Palestinian majority country, or all the many Muslim majority countries, or a Japanese majority country; in fact, there can be all of the 195 countries of the world except one.
BDS advocates for the elimination of the world’s only Jewish majority state.
In earlier eras, antisemitism showed up as hatred of the Jewish religion and at other times as hatred of the Jewish people. Although these forms of Jew hatred still exist, more often antisemitism now appears as hatred of the Jewish state.
Singling out Jews for special harm fits the definition of antisemitism so well that even the New York Times front page can’t make this reality go away.