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Submitted by AWL on Wed, 30/07/2014 - 11:14

Thanks for the comments; there's a lot to respond to here, but for now a note on political terminology.

1. Anti-semitism

I think it's pretty clear that "anti-semitism" means "anti-Jewish racism or bigotry". I don't think the fact Arabs are also semitic is of much relevance as people know what the term means. The Israeli government and its defenders are perfectly capable of branding people (justly and unjustly) as anti-Jewish whether or not the term "anti-semitism" is used. The only thing I'd add is that "anti-semitism" has some advantages as it covers both racism and less straightforwardly racist but still bigoted attitudes to Jews and Judaism - in somewhat the same way that one can talk about anti-Muslim racism and also anti-Islamic bigotry or Islamophobia. But fundamentally anti-semitism = anti-Jewish racism.

2. Anti-Zionism

The vast majority of Israelis call themselves Zionists - from the leaders of the regime waging war on Gaza to many of those jailed for refusing to serve against the Palestinians. The same goes for a very big proportion, maybe a majority, of the world's Jewish people, again with a huge range of views on Israeli government policy. So the label doesn't tell you much. And "anti-Zionist" is used to blur between opposition to the policies and actions of the Israeli state and the right of an Israeli nation to exist as an independent state if a majority of its people want (which they clearly do).

I'm against Zionism because I'm against nationalism, not because I think Israeli nationalism is uniquely evil.

Better to say "anti-Israeli nationalism", "anti-Israel imperialism", "against the oppression of the Palestinians" and so on. Unless of course you think Israel has no right to exist, but then make that argument!

Sacha Ismail

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