Hear me out. I know some of the things you will read will be hard for you to believe because you have been preprogrammed for so long to believe the opposite. But bear with me. There is no such thing as anti-Zionism, well at least not as you know it. There once was an intellectual movement called anti-Zionism, but that doesn’t exist any more. In the days long before the founding of the State of Israel, when Jews were suffering terrible persecution, a modern school of thought emerged that believed the way to solve the anti-Semitism problem was for Jews to have their own land where they could live as Jew without being at the antisemitic whims of their hosts who persecute us, and the only just and acceptable place for that is in the Jewish homeland long taken from them but never forgotten. This movement became what we know of as political Zionism (and now simply Zionism). Almost as soon as Zionism emerged as a formidable political movement, anti-Zionism arose. Anti-Zionists believed that Jews did not need to have their own country to overcome anti-Semitism. There were two schools of intellectual anti-Zionism1. The first was the anti-Zionist Jewish Labour Bund, a Jewish socialist movement, which believed that it was the class system that created anti-Semitism and that by aligning with non-Jewish socialist movements they could eliminate the class system and end anti-Semitism. The other were the Assimilationists. They believed that anti-Semitism came about because the Jews set themselves apart from their hosts. For example, If Jews talked like Germans (instead of the peasant Yiddish) and dressed like Germans (instead of like hasids), they would be accepted by the Germans.
The two schools of Zionism vs anti-Zionism existed at the same time on an intellectual level. No one knew who was right or wrong and because of that both sides could promote their viewpoint as the true one. But once the state of Israel was established, and a viable Jewish homeland realized, anti-Zionism ceased to exist. It is a world of difference going from “there shouldn’t be a homeland for the Jews because it will not solve anti-Semitism” to “I want to see the destruction of the homeland of the Jews.” The first statement is anti-Zionism, but you can’t make that argument anymore. There is now a homeland for the Jews. Israel exists whether you like it or not. The second statement is not anti-Zionism. So while Zionism continued, and still continues, shifting from a theoretical, intellectual idea to a practical movement, anti-Zionism ceased to exist. Look at it another way. During the renaissance, there were two schools of thought that pondered our solar system, the geocentrist that thought the Sun and planets revolved around the Earth, and the heliocentrists who thought the Earth and the other planets revolved around the Sun. Until it could be proven, it was simple two opposing intellectual theories. The prevailing theory was geocentrism. But once Copernicus proved heliocentrism, it was no longer an intellectual battle. Sure some people still opposed it rejecting scientific reason (some still do) but it was really not up for debate. The Earth revolving around the sun was successfully proven. Heliocentrism won. In the same light, Zionism was proven to be correct. Zionism won. It did not solve antisemitism around the world, but it did solve it for those Jews that moved to Israel. Sure, they have people surrounding them that hate them for being Jews and want them dead, but inside of Israel they mostly live in blissful ignorance of the anti-Semitism Jews still experience in the diaspora. It is not uncommon for me to meet a young Israeli traveling outside of Israel for the first time who will find the concept of anti-Semitism foreign to them in that they have never personally experienced it themselves. It is amazing. Few Jews in the diaspora can say the same. It is the triumph of Zionism. To live as a free people in our own land not at the mercy of the antisemitic whims of others. Jews have never been safer, even with the constant threats of attack and the rockets and the terrorism, than they are today in the State of Israel. Zionism continued after the founding of the Jewish home, not as an intellectual concept but as a practical movement. How do we build the country, how do we defend the country, how do we feed the country? The viability of the country is no longer in question. It was a success. Zionism won. Not only was intellectual Zionism proven right, but intellectual anti-Zionism was proven false.
Of the the two main branches of intellectual anti-Zionism, the Bund system and the Assimilationist, both failed. The Jewish Bund folded around 1920 after the Bolshevik revolution. Many of the Jewish Bundists that remained in Russia and Eastern Europe joined the Soviet revolution. The revolution triumphed, but Jews did not. Antisemitism continued and eventually the Jews in positions of power or prestige in the Soviet Union were purged by Stalin in the 1930s. A remnant of the Bund survived in different places for a while but did nothing to eliminate anti-Semitism. The socialist system failed the Jews of the Soviet Union. The promise of ending anti-Semitism turned into the nightmare of increased anti-Semitism for Soviet Jews. One only need look at the disaster that was the Autonomous Jewish Oblast in Birobidzhan and the fate of its founders. Socialist intellectual anti-Zionism was proven false. Socialism did function on some levels for the Jews, but only in the Jewish homeland and only under the auspice of Zionism.
The other branch of anti-Zionists were the Assimilationists. They wanted to integrate fully into European society. They believed full integration was enough to end Zionism and a homeland wasn’t need. The Jews in Western Europe began to dress like Europeans, spoke like Europeans, acted like Europeans, and some ever stopped identifying with Judaism altogether. But they were never accepted as Europeans, even the ones who abandoned Judaism and identified only as members of their host country. The promise of the enlightenment failed the Jews of Europe, or at least skipped over them. Assimilation did nothing to allay the hatred of Jews in Europe. If anything, it made it worse. Theodor Herzl started as an Assimilationist but eventually discovered that is was a failed ideology and became a Zionists. Even with assimilation, anti-Semitism grew and grew and grew, culminating in the tragedy of the Holocaust, where renouncing Judaism did not save you and even having as little as 1/4 Jewish blood may have condemned you to death. Assimilationist anti-Zionism was proven false.
If Zionism is no longer an intellectual concept but a practical one, and if intellectual anti-Zionism no longer exists (because the Jewish home exists and is an overwhelming success) then what is left over? Is it practical anti-Zionism? Well, let’s think about what practical anti-Zionism means. Practical anti-Zionism means the dismantling of the homeland of the Jews, a project that succeeded beyond its wildest imaginations, which achieve it’s prime objectives. It means taking the Jews from a position of safety and self determination and putting them back where they were over 100 years ago, a nation without a land at the whims of an antisemitic host. In the diaspora we see antisemitism every day. Jews attacked, synagogues shot up, graves vandalize, students discriminated against, Jews accused of being responsible for creating and spreading diseases, the Jew as body politic unjustly demonized. The same lies, the same hatred of Jews that has existed since antiquity persists in the diaspora to this day, but not inside Israel. Reversing everything the Jews accomplished and setting Jews back 100 years isn’t practical anti-Zionism. There is no relationship between saying “a Jewish homeland will not protect the Jews” and saying “Israel must be destroyed”. No one today can honestly say, “I am an anti-Zionist because a Jewish homeland will not protect the Jews” because that has been proven false. Not only is it not practical anti-Zionism , but it isn’t practical, period. Knowing now what Jews didn’t know prior, Jews will not accept returning to a time of hopelessness. Practical anti-Zionism doesn’t exist. Intellectual anti-Zionism no longer exist. Anti-Zionism is a myth. What people call anti-Zionism today is really obfuscated anti-Semitism. You cannot have an intellectual conversation about anti-Zionism today any more than you can have one about geocentrism. Practical anti-Zionism would mean the reversal of something that has been proven to protect the Jews and benefitted the Jews more than any other event in modern history. What do you call that if not anti-Semitism? I’m not saying Israel is perfect. Far from it. Israel is flawed like every other nation. And that is good. That is the point. That is another triumph of Zionism, that the Jews can ba people like any other people in the world free to be flawed and not required to be perfect.
There is one form of intellectual anti-Zionism that does still exists, albeit with imperfections, and that is religious anti-Zionism. I’m not talking about the cult that carries signs and are the poster children for every Jew hater on the planet, that is anti-Semitism, but the real anti-Zionist ultra orthodox sects who oppose Zionism by interpreting sacred texts. They know deep down that Jews are safer in Israel but they oppose it on religious grounds. However, many members of those sects internally support Israel and almost all of them support their fellow Jews. Furthermore, what is often overlooked is that many ultra Orthodox groups support Israel for exactly the same reason, on religious grounds. They find the justification for Jews possessing the land of Israel in the same exact passages and texts as the other side uses justify Jews being prohibited from possessing the land. It is not a cut and dry issue. Incidentally, the ultra Orthodox sects that claim to be anti-Zionists are actually Zionists, it’s only an issue of timing. They believe when the Messiah comes all Jews will return to Zion. I’m not saying that religious anti-Zionism is correct, it is not, only that it is the only remaining viable anti-Zionism that exists.
You might be reading this and say “I don’t want to see the Jews killed. I don’t want them driven from the land. I am an anti-Zionist because I want every barrier to come down and to have one country with everyone together.” The problem with that is two fold. First, again you are asking to undo everything that Jews have accomplished in the last 100 plus years and for the Jews, a historically oppressed minority, to go back to being at the whims of others. There have been areas where Jews were relatively autonomous, like the Pale of Settlements. But it was not true autonomy. Without their own land with their own defense and their self determination, they were constantly under attack and suffered terrible tragedies. Anything short of a Jewish homeland, one place in the world where Jews are not a minority and can defend themselves, is a danger to Jews. Second, and more importantly, this solution ignores hundreds of years of history that has shown that the two people can not live together as one. The British tried to build the Mandate as an area for both Arabs and Jews. Every street sign, every dollar, every government document had the language of both the Jews and the Arabs. Every government agency was made up of Arabs and Jews. The result was nobody was happy. The Arabs and the Jews fought worse than ever. It’s like taking a married couple that is separated because they fought all the time, they continue to fight while separated, it is clear that they are not meant for one another, and telling them that the solution to all their problems is not to get a divorce, but to move in together. The only thing this solution would accomplish is a long civil war and eventually the end of any real presence of Jews in their homeland. If you still support this position, you are entitled to it, but don’t kid yourself, that is not anti-Zionism, that’s anti-Semitism.
For people that call themselves anti-Zionists because of any of the following “Jews are not from the Middle East”, “You aren’t the real or original Jews”, “You are converts from Khazar”, “It isn’t your homeland”, “It is against your Torah”, “You are conquerors, colonists, colonialists, supremacists, etc”, “Israel has no right to exist because of Netanyahu, the government, policies, treatment of the Palestinians, you sterilize women, you sold babies, you steal organs, etc” and use that as a pretext to call for the destruction of Israel, well not only is that anti-Semitism, but you are an anti-Semite.
Now if you say, “Israel has a right to exists, but I also support a two state solution and for Palestinians to also have a country” that isn’t anti-Semitism. But that also isn’t anti-Zionism, so stop calling yourself an anti-Zionist and lets talk.
1There were other Zionist and anti-Zionist sub-movements. It is a complicated topic beyond the scope of this article. Even within sub-movements there were variations.