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Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

Dr. Thomas Swan studied cognition and culture at Queen's University Belfast. He enjoys exploring the interplay between politics and culture.

I doubt these anti-Zionists are anti-Semitic.

I doubt these anti-Zionists are anti-Semitic.

Anti-Zionism Vs Anti-Semitism

Anti-Zionism is criticism of the state of Israel and of how Israelis treat their Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors. Anti-Semitism is hatred of Semitic peoples (such as Jews) because of their religion or ethnicity. An anti-Semite will dislike Jews regardless of their political views. An anti-Zionist will oppose supporters of Israel, whatever their religion or ethnicity.

An anti-Zionist can and probably will admire many Jewish people. Simultaneously, they may criticize multitudes of non-Jewish people, such as Christian groups or American politicians, for their unequivocal support of the Israeli state. Anti-Zionism requires no religious or ethnic discriminatory beliefs against Jews. There is even a large Jewish anti-Zionist movement, some of whom can be seen protesting in the above picture.

Deliberate Confusion Helps Israel

Unfortunately, anti-Zionism is often confused with anti-Semitism, leading to accusations of racism against individuals who only intend to criticize the Israeli government. Certain political groups and media organizations appear to be deliberately aiding this confusion, with the apparent goal of making Israel immune to criticism. Some examples will be provided below. However, to dispel any suggestion that this is a conspiracy theory, let's listen to Shulamit Aloni, a former Israeli Minister of Education, who explains how it works:

Without question, it's wrong for a country to be made immune to criticism. Such a nation would have a green light to engage in criminal and immoral behavior on a daily basis without fear of condemnation or repercussion. Unfortunately, this may already be happening. Israel should not be free to invade neighboring countries; slaughter their enemies with disproportionate force; use chemical weapons such as white phosphorus; or ignore UN resolutions. Other countries have been dismantled for less.

The American and British governments refuse to condemn Israel, and they block or vote against UN resolutions that attempt to do so. The Western press follows suit, leading to a misinformed public that does not sufficiently challenge the views and decisions of their leaders. Deliberate attempts to confuse anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism appear to be conducive to this strategy of misinformation.

Further Examples of Anti-Zionists Being Maligned

It's become quite common for criticism of Israel to be reported as anti-Semitic racism. Indeed, the tendency to suppress anti-Zionist opinion preys on public sensitivities about race and the desire to appear politically correct. Such sensitivities are particularly prevalent in America, where racial division and civil rights are still a preoccupation for many.

The first example of anti-Zionists being maligned in this way concerns the California State Assembly who passed a resolution calling criticism of Israel anti-Semitic. As the conditions of this resolution are read out in the video below, it becomes abundantly clear that the actions of this political body represent a tangible threat to free speech. It shows just how corrupt some of our public officials have gotten when it comes to making Israel immune to criticism.

In the next video, we hear the fate of American journalist, Helen Thomas (since deceased), who had the temerity to criticize the Israeli occupation. When asked a leading question about where the Israelis should go, she said they should return to their homes in Poland, Germany, and America. Despite Helen Thomas actually being a Semite, the media portrayed the incident as being anti-Semitic. She was also fired from her position as a member of the White House Press Corps. She explains that many people lose their jobs for similar anti-Zionist remarks.

Is Iran Anti-Semitic?

The Iranian government repeatedly criticizes Israeli policy and makes other anti-Zionist remarks. In 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly said "Israel must be wiped off the map". The words were widely condemned by politicians and journalists alike. As can be seen in the video below, accusations of wanting a `genocide' soon followed. Iran had become an anti-Semitic state in the eyes of the world.

However, what Ahmadinejad actually said was: "Our dear Imam [Khomeini] said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of time". So, not only was he quoting someone else, but he was talking about the removal of the Israeli governmental regime. For those who give a damn about fairness and justice, Ahmadinejad went on to say the solution in Palestine is to respect the democratic will of the people. The Western media removed this context and continued to use their false translation until the story was no longer of interest.

Understanding the propaganda war with anti-Zionist Iran:

There are several more reasons why Iran cannot be an anti-Semitic nation. For starters, Iran is home to the second largest population of Jews in the Middle East after Israel. About 25,000 Jews live in Iran, and they worship in synagogues across the country. They are free from persecution because the leader of Iran's revolution, Imam Khomeini, declared that Jews should be protected. Khomeini also reserved a seat for at least one Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament. Are these the actions of an anti-Semitic state?

Unfortunately, many Westerners still believe the propaganda they were exposed to regarding the "wipe off the map" controversy. Nevertheless, the Iranian situation represents the most profound example of anti-Zionism being branded as anti-Semitism.

Israel is a political entity that does not represent Judaism or the Jewish people.

Israel is a political entity that does not represent Judaism or the Jewish people.


If criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic, then criticizing India must reveal one's hatred for the Hindu majority in that country. Despite the absurdity, people who criticize Israel continue to be defamed in national and international politics. Complicit are a media who do not check facts when a headline serves the agenda of the political system they are entangled with.

Even though anti-Semites are also inclined to dislike Israel, the majority of people who share that sentiment are not racist. Indeed, there is no flavor of anti-Zionism that requires one to be anti-Semitic. The reward reaped by conflating the two is sown by those who the injustice serves.

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize" - Voltaire

While such a conspiracy in which we're `ruled over by Zionists' would require a greater quantity of evidence, few would deny that Israel is able to exert considerable influence in Western politics. Regardless, Voltaire certainly provides us with a poignant and aphoristic afterthought.

© 2013 Thomas Swan


Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on July 21, 2014:

As you say Thomas, there's a large anti-Zionist movement amongst the Jews too, so it's clear that the two things are different. You mention Steven Spielberg: I would add Noam Chomsky and Normal Finkelstein. The usual Zionist response to anti-Zionist Jews is to defame them as "Self-Hating Jews". Sometimes you just can't win.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on June 06, 2014:

I think anti-Zionism can sometimes lead to anti-Semitism and vice versa, which would produce the connections you've observed. I've seen it too, and recently. On the basis of this article, I was invited to join a google+ group about "the Jews". Most of the language in the group appeared to be anti-Semitic.

So I think you're right, but it's important that no-one assumes the connection always exists. I think the videos show there is an effort from Zionists to conflate anti-Zionism with racism in order to demonize their genuine, non-racist critics.

I'm not going to defend Islam, but as the article shows, `Muslim anti-Semitism' is certainly overstated in Iran. This BBC News article really opened my eyes to the Iran situation: and the propaganda we've been fed about it.

Apparently, also, Jews and Muslims lived quite peacefully side by side in Palestine before nationalist Zionism gained prominence at the start of the 20th century.

There may be freedom of religion in Israel, but are there equal rights and equal opportunities? I read recently about Muslims being unable to return to Israel to reclaim the properties they'd fled years before.

The death for apostasy case in Nigeria isn't really important to the region. All religions foster barbaric regimes. Africa is a battleground between Muslims and Christians, with both sides committing atrocities.

In the Israeli conflict, I think both sides are equally "racist" and equally willing to manipulate public opinion. However, the Zionist cause is accommodated more by the Western media because of ideological, financial, and political reasons.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 17, 2013:

Hello Jandee. That is very kind of you to say. I'll be checking out some of your hubs too!

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 17, 2013:

Cheers Ranzi. I often write about blatant injustices in the world so I'm glad you discovered some new info about Iran here. I enjoyed your hub about Syria too!

jandee from Liverpool.U.K on September 16, 2013:

Hello Thomas Swan and pleased to meet you,

you certainly know how to steal ones Morning.

I had plans for the day but you have scuppered them

So welcome to see truth written so beautifully clear and with good back up links.Excellent write . I hope to read more from you,best from Jandee

Cut The Bullshit from All Over on September 15, 2013:

Thanks for this, I didn't know all this about Iran. The media is a powerful regime. As well, I have many Jewish friends who are anti Zionist and even their own family have called them anti-semitic. Voted up, awesome and shared

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 13, 2013:

Thanks for commenting Joey Keefe. It seemed like an important distinction to make. As you point out, the two terms are often conflated, taking advantage of public ignorance, and causing some terrible injustices.

I'm less familiar with the anti-American label because I live in the UK, but I can believe it. I know it's been used before to derogate people opposed to war. In the UK right now, they're making the argument that by opposing war in Syria, Britain is becoming "less significant on the world stage"... appealing to people's patriotic feelings. I really can't stand that kind of propaganda.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 13, 2013:

Thanks for the link f_hruz. Yes, I've heard from plenty of ex-officials and generals who reveal the truth. They usually publish a book, have 15 minutes of fame on some boring news show, and then everything they've said gets completely buried and forgotten.

Joey Keefe from Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 13, 2013:

I appreciate you defining the line that separates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. These terms are often used interchangeably by "reliable" mainstream news sources, making it difficult for viewers/readers to recognize the difference between political criticism and racism.

It's also funny (the ironic kind of funny) how criticizing Israel is not only labeled anti-Semitic, but is often labeled anti-American as well, as though Israel became the 51st state of the Union without anyone really noticing.

f_hruz from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 13, 2013:

I find it quite amazing how some high ranking members of an administration some times come around to see the ills of having supported eval ideas and inhuman, criminal causes.

Here is an example of Paul Craig Roberts, who used to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal ...

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 12, 2013:

Thanks f_hruz, I watched that and found it very interesting. In particular, the info about the 1967 war being a pre-emptive strike.

f_hruz from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 12, 2013:

The son of an Israeli General's story is quite a powerful argument for the fact that some Jews know the truth and are willing to tell the whole world!

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 11, 2013:

Thanks for commenting Mel. I respect that you can disagree and still regard it as well-written. I'm happy if that means I've avoided bias and stuck to the facts. I also agree that the US has a greater problem than anywhere else.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 11, 2013:

Thank you f_hruz. It certainly is an opinion war. A keen observer of the media will detect the bias that creeps in whenever the government is pushing for war. I was listening to a BBC radio show in the days before parliament voted on Syria. All of the speakers wanted intervention by the West. There was no balance whatsoever. I think most people fail to realize that even though powerful people will try to exert their will, they still have to convince the public (for the most part) in order to get their way.

There is the international Jewish anti-Zionist movement I linked to in the first section, and they've done well to get some publicity. I wish they'd get more members in Israel because I see as much irrational racism from Israelis as I do from Arabs. Though, the Israeli leadership has a tendency to drum up a threat in the months before an election, winning it for the warmongers like Netanyahu.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 11, 2013:

While I don't entirely agree with you, I certainly respect your bold statement and I don't think Israel should be given a free pass. Zionism is probably a greater foce in the US than anywhere else because of strong fundamentalist beliefs and fear of Biblical prophecies. I commend you for an extremely well written hub.

f_hruz from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 11, 2013:

Congratulations to a very unbiased, factual analysis of how political reality gets manipulated to turn fiction into facts in the official media and ultimately sways international opinion to permit blatant injustice to exist for such an incredibly long time ...

The videos you selected speak very clearly to the point that Zionism is no better an eval than Fascism itself under Hitler.

It would be nice to see more Jewish humanists form a movement around the world to actively distance themselves loud and clear from this criminal ideology of Zionism which gives cover to the idea that Israel can do no wrong, no matter how dehumanizing the actions of that state continue to be.

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