Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has recently said that “anti-Zionism” is the new antisemitism. “In the 19th and 20th centuries [Jews] were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, Israel”.
That is true, I think. But it needs explication if we are distinguish well between that anti- Zionism and reasonable criticism of Israel. And it’s been true for a very long time, for decades in fact. It is now the specifically “left” strand of antisemitism.
Increasingly the dominant trend on the U.S. left is what I'd call immediate binationalism -- the idea that "the two-state solution is dead" and that the only possible way forward for Palestinian liberation to to push for a binational state of all historic Palestine (NOT the old PLO idea of Jews having religious but no national rights). And when US socialists chant "from the river to the sea..." that's what they mean. I've asked.
You may argue that this is utopian -- at this point I'm not sure if the two-state program as promoted by, say, Gush Shalom is any less utopian -- but I wouldn't call it "political antisemitism." Your thoughts, comrades?
The problem with people who proclaim "the two state solution is dead" is that ther words can be interpreted in at least two ways – one benign if naive (Israel must voluntarily give up its statehood and turn itself into some kind of bi-national state in which Jews and Palestinians will live together in happy harmony), the other definitely *not* benign (Israel must be destroyed). The fact that a lot of leftists, "anti-zionists" and avowed pro-Palestian campaigners appear not to recognise the need to be very precise and clear about what they are, and are not, saying, and the fact that many of them seem quite happy to share platforms with people whose “anti- zionism” has definitely crossed the line into antisemitism, makes me very doubtful about the honesty of some of these people. Unfortunately, they're only too typical of the kind of “well-meaning” liberals in and around the PSC (in Britain) who claim they’re not antisemites, but seem quite willing to associate with people who are.
Finally, even if we accept the claim that these people simply means Israel reforming itself out of existance , or the widely-touted argument that socialists are in favour of the “withering away” of all states…how come these arguments are virtually never used about other nation-states, including those (like the USA, Australia and Argentina) that – unlike Israel – were created by means of genocide?
This is just an apology for fascism. They only acceptable solution to the problem of zionism and Palestinian rights is a one state solution with equal rights for all, and with no religious basis, either Judaism, Islam, Christianity or anything else. This toadying to the Israeli government's orchestrated campaign to equate anti-zionism with anti-semitism is an enabler for continued state-sponsored murder and ethnic cleansing. People publishing this sort of state-sponsored propaganda should be ashamed to call yourselves 'leftists'.
Try taking your lead from Jewish anti-zionists such as Phillip Weiss - "Mondoweiss" instead of the Israeli government.
PS I'll be surprised if this entry is still here in a couple of hours.
“You may argue that this is utopian -- at this point I'm not sure if the two-state program as promoted by, say, Gush Shalom is any less utopian -- but I wouldn't call it "political antisemitism." Your thoughts, comrades?”
I don’t think that I’m one of the comrades Jason was addressing. But I’ll put my two cents in anyway in the hope that others might feel obliged to respond.
The short answer is this: what is the context in which this slogan is raised? For instance, there is nothing objectionable or racist in the abstract with the slogan “all lives matter.” In many situations this is a democratic and fully humanistic outcry.
But when used as a response to “#Black Lives Matter” something else is introduced: the suggestion that blacks have no special grievances, that the insistence of pervasive racism in policing is an excuse to avoid the “real issue” of rampant criminality in the black community.
So too with the one-state solution. In the abstract, it is fully compatible with our democratic aspirations. In the concrete, it denies the reality of how Israel came to being as an ingathering of the most traumatized and victimized remnants of the worldwide Jewish community.
And I’m not speaking here solely or even mainly of the offspring of concentration camp survivors and holocaust escapees. This story is well told. I’m also talking about the descendants of Mizrahi Jews, communities and civilizations who predated the Arab and Muslim conquests by centuries and were ethnically cleansed far more thoroughly than the Palestinians were by the Israeli rulers. Those with money or credentials fled to the West; the poor – those who lost everything -- became Israel’s “rightwing” working class.
The demand for a one-state solution in all of Palestine (Jordan too?) is one of many rightful and just remedies for Palestinian grievances. But it is also betrays an abject blindness to the equally valid trauma of ethnically cleansed Israelis, who scour the Arab world for evidence of the very toleration and trust – the social and political equality -- they never experienced as constituents of that world. For them it is a return to the vulnerability of the status quo ante.
It also suggests that that anything less than a one-state solution is a concession to a fundamentally criminal and illegitimate state, just as "BLM is said by racists to be a means of deflecting from the issue of black lawlessness. In this sense, while not anti-semitism, this slogan may be a not-too distant relative.