In the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre, there are bizarre attempts by anti-Zionist organizations to claim that they are against antisemitism, and moreover that Zionism and antisemitism are interrelated.
Our struggles for justice are inextricably linked: rejecting white supremacy means rejecting antisemitism, anti-Black racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and all forms of oppression.
The first step in standing in solidarity and linking arms across movements is educating ourselves. We know that these connections may not be obvious at first glance, so we pulled together some resources that we hope you’ll find useful whether you want to expand your knowledge, or are having these conversations over the holidays or on social media.
This resource from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice offers an analysis of antisemitism, how it works, and why it matters. It addresses how antisemitism fits into a matrix of oppressions that includes anti-Black racism and Islamophobia, and how Trump has emboldened white supremacists.
The document they point to is a 45 page description of antisemitism from a Leftist viewpoint. The problem isn’t so much with what it says, but with what it ignores:
Who are Jews?
A central way that antisemitism thrives is through myths and stereotypes about Jews. These stereotypes benefit from a lack of clarity about who Jews actually are and ignorance about the demographics of our community.
Judaism is one of the three so-called “Abrahamic” religions, along with Christianity and Islam,which trace their roots to the biblical patriarch Abraham. Judaism predates both Christianity and Islam, but over time has been overtaken by both of them in numbers of adherents throughout the world.
Between 722 and 73 BCE, Jewish population centers in the Middle East began to fragment due to invasion and military conflict, and Jews were scattered throughout the region. From 63 CE until 70–73 CE, the Romans occupied Judea, which led to an uprising, a crackdown, and the final expulsion of Jews from their homeland in what is now Israel/Palestine. Many Jews remained in the Middle East and North Africa, while many others migrated throughout the world in whatiis known as the “Jewish diaspora,” with some settling in what is modern-day Europe and other parts of the world.
While this abbreviated history mentions Judea and that Jews had homeland, it downplays something vital: that the Jews are a nation, not only a religion. It does not even say that there were two Jewish kingdoms; it doesn’t mention King David or the Temples.
Wikipedia’s entry on Jews starts off with “Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים Yehudim, or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated.” But to leftists, including leftist Jews, the national component of Judaism is ignored or diminished, scrubbed from history and Jewishness is viewed as merely a religion like Islam or Christianity.
Denial of Jewish peoplehood is antisemitic. It is also a lie – Jews were recognized as a nation by not only themselve but by non-Jews for all history since the destruction of the second Temple.
But for anti-Zionists, this antisemitic denial of the essence of Jewish peoplehood is necessary, because if you accept that there are a Jewish people, then you must accept that they have a place of origin and a right to live in their historic home. Not only that, but you must admit that they are the indigenous population of their homeland.
Arabs do the exact same thing. They claim that Judaism is merely a religion and that they have nothing against Jews; but Jews who act as a people are Zionist and must be stopped.
Anti-Zionism’s philosophical basis is the denial of the Jewish people’s rights to self determination. Because Jews are a people – and they have been understood to be a people for thousands of years – then anti-Zionism is truly antisemitism. The scrambling being done to separate antisemitism of Pittsburgh from the anti-Zionism of the radical Left is an attempt to erase the obvious link between the Jews of Squirrel Hill and the Jews of Israel.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.