I always get suspicious when I hear someone flaunt their pro-Israel credentials by saying, “I firmly believe in Israel’s right to exist.” Gee, thanks. I firmly believe in your right to exist, too.
The real question is: How did Israel’s “right to exist” ever become an issue in the first place?
After all, we never hear about Syria’s right to exist or Libya’s right to exist or Sudan’s right to exist or Yemen’s right to exist. A country can commit genocide against its people and inflict the worst humanitarian disaster and no one will ever bring up its “right to exist.”
So, why is it OK to single out Israel?
Here’s my theory: If you hate Jews so much that you want to challenge their very presence, your best bet is to go after Israel. Jew haters know they can’t start a movement to eliminate the Jews, so they do the next best thing: They work to undermine, in sneaky ways, the world’s only Jewish state.
Anti-Semitism revolves around an emotion — hate. Anti-Zionism revolves around an action — destruction.
A stark example is the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the leading global force against Israel. Its very name is misleading. Words like “boycott” “divestment” and “sanctions,” which are taken straight from the social justice manual, create a façade of genuine protest to hide a purely destructive agenda.
This charade shouldn’t shock anyone who’s been paying attention. In recent years, it has become more and more evident that the BDS agenda is not to criticize Israel but to crush it.
Even prominent BDS activists, like Ahmed Moor, have come clean: “OK, fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” Or university professor As’ad
AbuKhalil, another BDS activist: “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel.”
Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS himself, has said on the record: “Definitely most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”
To undermine the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the land, Barghouti uses language like “acquired rights” and “indigenized.” His vision includes “de-Zionization” of Israel and the return of up to 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to flood the Jewish state.
Had BDS called itself the WIN movement — Wipeout Israel Now — no one would have taken them seriously. Instead, it uses the messaging of protest and intersectionality to attract well-meaning activists who don’t want to see Israel wiped out. This subterfuge is their strategy, and for the gullible crowd, it’s working.
BDS’s core success is sucking in much of the mainstream media and others who believe in “two states for two people” and assume that BDS is a way of pressuring Israel to get there.
It is far from that. The BDS mission originates straight from the founding mission of the PLO in 1964, before any Jewish settlements existed, which was to eliminate what is still seen as the unacceptable and humiliating sovereign Jewish-Zionist presence in Arab-Muslim lands.
Jew hatred may fuel the Israel hatred behind BDS and other anti-Israel forces, but after that, Israel-hatred wreaks havoc on its own. This is why, in my eyes, anti-Zionism is more lethal than anti-Semitism: It carries the virus of elimination.
As author Gil Troy writes in an email from Jerusalem, “Thousands have been killed and maimed by modern anti-Zionism, which requires the ideological and rhetorical inflammation to get people to blow themselves up and kill innocents. As a result, not only have we absorbed the notion that Israel’s existence should be up for grabs, but our outrage has been dulled –— we accept attacks on Israel as normal.”
Demonizing Israel and singling it out for special condemnation is immoral and discriminatory regardless of any claims of anti-Semitism.
Underlying the whole assault on Israel, he adds, “is the rejection of us as a people — we are just supposed to be a ‘nice’ religion confined to our synagogues and JCC’s, not a people taking up real space in the international arena.”
In sum, it is hardly enough to argue that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. In at least one crucial way it’s worse than that. Anti-Semitism revolves around an emotion — hate. Anti-Zionism revolves around an action — destruction.
Anti-Zionism must be fought on its own terms. Demonizing Israel and singling it out for special condemnation is immoral and discriminatory regardless of any claims of anti-Semitism.
Israel doesn’t just have a right to exist. Like any other imperfect state, it has a right to thrive, whether you hate Jews or not.