By: Yishai Ametza
“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.”
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
It is amazing that while the opposite it true these days, the 20th century black intellectuals prominent before Rev. King had regarded the Zionist movement favorably because of their own strong impulses for self-determination. W.E.B. DuBois in 1919 wrote, “The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews.” In 1941, DuBois elaborated that Palestine was “the only refuge that harassed Jewry has today.”
During Israel’s War of Independence, Menachem Begin recalled that Dr. Ralph Bunche, Jr. conveyed to him, “I can understand you. I am also a member of a persecuted minority.”
Dr. King’s empathic awareness revealed a profound understanding of both the Jews’ complex embrace of Zionism, and the thinly veiled Jew hatred inherent in anti-Zionism:
“After 2000 years of exile, the Jewish People has emerged traumatized. The source of that trauma has been the constant insecurity and fear that characterized most of the Diaspora, in most parts of the world. It is a product of landlessness, massacres, periodic expulsion and flight, persecution by tyrants and abuse by the Church and Mosque who encouraged anti-Semitism to satisfy their own insecurities and political desires. …Physical security for the Jews has traditionally been improved in a number of ways: usefulness, mobility, bribery and assimilation. Psychological responses to this insecurity and trauma are well known: self-hatred and blame, identification with and appeasement of abusers, obsessive fantasy of a future paradise on earth. These solutions and responses are so integrated into the Jewish psyche that they have been passed down from generation to generation, displaying themselves even in relatively free societies, even in America and the recently liberated homeland, Israel. …
“Despite its significance to the Jewish Nation, the State of Israel has failed to alleviate most of this trauma, and has not reduced the levels of anti-Semitism — it has simply allowed anti-Semites to masquerade themselves under the new banner of “anti-Zionism”. We cannot expect anti-Semitism to disappear — Jewish existence and Jewish philosophy will always be threatening to its children: Christianity, and Islam… The trauma and insecurity, on the other hand, is within our power to diminish, should we decide to do so… “And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism…The anti-Semite rejoices at any opportunity to vent his malice. The times have made it unpopular, in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the anti-Semite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. How he must revel in the new masquerade! He does not hate the Jews, he is just ‘anti-Zionist’!”
These very true words were the words of Reverend dr. King, people who are sorely missed today. Instead we have these demagogues and anti-semitic fools like Jesse Jackson.
Think… just think, of someone saying that he wants the destruction of America because he sees the American identity as racist. And just think that this person constantly denies being anti-American because he does not hate all Americans, only America and all those who believe America should exist.
Now. replace “Jewish” for “American” and “Israel” for “America” you’ll understand the absudity of the argument that one can be anti-Zionist but not anti-Jewish.
Among the many lies that exist in our world, none is greater (or easier to refute) than the claim that Zionism is not an essential part of Judaism or the claim that anti-Zionism is unrelated to anti-semitism.
In order to understand why, it is first necessary to explain Zionism and anti-Zionism.
A modern secular movement called ‘Zionism’ was founded in the 19th century by Theodor Herzl, but the belief that Jews belong in Zion (the biblical term for Jerusalem) is as old as the Jewish people. Thousands of years ago the very first Zionist as born in Mesopetamia, his name back then was Avrom who later became known as Avrohom Avinu (Abraham our Father), his son was the next ‘Zionist’ leader: Yitzchok, then Yaakov. All of them were the early Zionists. Some hundreds years later another Zionist leader was born, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher). He led us out of Egypt and brought us to the border of our land where the next great Zionist leader, Yehoshua Bin Nun arose and brought us into to the land. Years after that we had the shoftim (judges) of Israel, the Yishuv (community) leaders of those times who fought against our enemies in the Land, and after that we had our very first Zionist King: Shaul HaMelech who was succeeded by the greatest Zionist leader after Moshe: Dovid HaMelech (King David) from whose lineage Moshiach will come. Dovid was succeeded by his son Shlomo, yet another great and wise Zionist king.
Unfortunately many years after Shlomo HaMelech our ancestors were exiled and the Holy Temple destroyed. But our ancestors kept hoping and praying for our return to Zion, and indeed.. seventy years later they returned to their, to our homeland. That was the first Zionist return to Eretz Yisroel. Now let us make a huge timeskip in history. We are now in the time of Rabbi Akiva and bar Kochva. The second temple had just been destroyed by the Romans and the holy city of Jerusalem had fallen. Bar Kochva’s great revolt was crushed and our people were yet again in another exile, an exile that would last for another 2000 year, and even now we are kind of still in it since we’re lacking the third Beis Hamikdash (temple). From the time of Rabbi Akiva up until now we pray every day, three times daily; “v’techazena einenu b’shuvcha l’zion’ – May our eyes behold Your return to Zion. For 2000 years this is what the religious Jew prays, OUR return to Zion.
So, starting in 586 B.C., with the destruction of the first Jewish state, Jews were already Zionists in that they fervently prayed to return to Zion. While the movement known by the specific name “Zionism” is modern, the movement of Jews returning to Zion is more than 2,500 years old. That is why the claim that Zionism – the return of the Jewish people to Zion – is not part of Judaism is a theological and historical lie.
The RambaN (Nachmonides) even writes in his Sefer HaMitzvos Mitzvoh #4, that it is a Mitzvoh(!) to conquer the land of Israel. Just as the RambaM (Maimonides) wrote in his letter to the chochomim (wise Torah scholars) of Marseile, that the only reason that we are still in exile is because the Jewish people did not learn the way of warfare, in order to defend ourselves and to re-conquer the land of Israel.
Judaism has always consisted of three components: G-d, Torah and Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), roughly translated as faith, practice and peoplehood. And this Jewish people was conceived of as living in the Jewish country called Israel. One can argue that the modern state of Israel was founded at the expense of Arabs living in the geographic area known as Palestine (there was never a country or a nation called Palestine though); but that in no way negates the indisputable fact that Zionism is an integral part of Judaism. Nor does the fact that some Jews who have abandoned Judaism are opposed to Zionism, nor that a tiny sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Neturei Karta) believe that only Moshiach can found a Jewish state in Israel.
When anti-Israel Muslims or any other foolish leftists demonstrate and chant, “Yes to Judaism, No to Zionism,” they are inventing a new Judaism out of their hatred for Israel. It would be as if anti-Muslims marched around chanting, “Yes to Allah, No to the Koran.” Just as Allah, Muhammad and the Koran are inextricable components of Islam, so G-d, Torah and Eretz Yisroel are of Judaism.
But, one might argue, even if Zionism is as much a part of Judaism as any other part of the Jewish Bible, the modern Jewish state of Israel has no right to exist because it displaced many indigenous Arabs, known later as Palestinians.
Before responding to this, it is crucial to understand that this argument – that Israel’s founding was illegitimate – is completely unrelated to anti-Zionism. An intellectually honest person who believes Israel’s founding is illegitimate would still have to acknowledge that Zionism is an inseparable part of Judaism.
But the argument that Israel is illegitimate because its founding led to 600,000 to 700,000 Arab refugees is as anti-Jewish as is anti-Zionism. Virtually every country in the world was founded by displacing some of the people who had lived there, and many of those countries did far worse to far more people than Israel did. Therefore, anyone who calls only for Israel’s destruction had better explain why, of all the states on earth whose founding was accompanied by the displacement of others, only the Jewish state is illegitimate.
Take Pakistan, for example. Unlike the Jewish state of Israel, which had existed twice before in history, there was never a country called Pakistan, nor was there ever any other independent Muslim country in the part of India that was carved out to create Pakistan. Moreover, if the Jewish state of Israel is illegitimate because it created 700,000 Arab refugees, why isn’t the Muslim state of Pakistan, which created more than eight million Hindu refugees, illegitimate?
The answer is obvious. When people isolate the one Jewish state in the world for sanctions, opprobrium and delegitimizing, they are doing so because it is the Jewish state. And that, quite simply, is why anti-Zionism is simply another form of Jew-hatred.
You can criticize Israel all you want. That does not make you an anti-semite. But if you are an anti-Zionist or advocate the destruction of the Jewish state, then let’s be clear: You are an enemy of the Jews and of Judaism, and the word for such a person is and will aways be: Anti-Semite.