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Haven’t we resolved the ‘Zionism is racism’ debate?

Much is based on envy and jealousy of the success of the Jewish people and their tiny state in the direct face of this persistent onslaught.

Palestinians who support boycotting Israel during clashes along the Israel-Gaza border in May 2018. Credit: BDS National Committee via Facebook.
Palestinians who support boycotting Israel during clashes along the Israel-Gaza border in May 2018. Credit: BDS National Committee via Facebook.
Lee Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

Didn’t we finally defeat the notion that Zionism is racism in 1991, when the United Nations finally revoked that resolution?

The recent murderous attacks on Jews in synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., are ultimately not dissimilar from attacks on Zionism itself, the belief that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination in their ancient homeland. Both in fact are acts of hatred and racism. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “If you’re talking anti-Zionism, you’re talking anti-Semitism.”

Let’s get something straight: The objective of anti-Zionist attacks is to deny the right of the only Jewish state on the planet to exist, as opposed to all the other nations in the world. The U.S. State Department defines anti-Semitism as a form of racism directed at Israel using the three “D”s from Natan Sharansky: delegitimization, demonization and double standards. This comes in many shapes and sizes.

Here are a half-dozen of the toxic terms:

  • Jews are not a “people,” but rather a religion.

Wrong. Members of a religion don’t feel bonds of common ancestry and tribal relation with fellow members of that religion of their own and earlier generations. We Jews are descended from our forefathers’ generations that came forth out of Egypt, established our presence in our homeland of Israel and maintained our presence there throughout the centuries. The Bible refers to us as a nation. We share that common bond with Jewish communities in the Diaspora, including Yemenite and Ethiopian Jews whom Israel brought home, a relation not felt, for example, between Christians on different continents.

  • Israel’s claims to the Land of Israel are based only on the Bible.

Wrong. Our claims begin in the Bible, as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon recently eloquently expressed to members of the world body. But three millennia of a continuous homeland-claiming physical presence—supported by every synagogue in the world built with its holy ark facing where the Jerusalem Temple stood, Jews praying towards Jerusalem, and Jews reciting at the ending of every Passover “Next Year in Jerusalem”—furnish a historical endorsement of our homeland claim’s biblical origins. The Balfour Declaration, embodied in the San Remo Treaty and League of Nations Palestine Mandate, accepted by the United Nations, endorse our homeland claim in international jurisprudence.

  • Israel is a colonial enterprise.

Wrong. The modern-day State of Israel—brought into independence by an army of homeland Jews that took on, first, the British Empire, and then neighboring Arab nations that invaded, vowing to destroy it—is the antithesis of a “colonial enterprise.” Speaking the same language, practicing the same religion and customs practiced by that same small people in that same small place three millennia earlier, indigenous Israel is as far from “a colonial enterprise” as any place on the planet. Even the Koran recognizes Israel as the land of the Jews. More than half of Israelis are Mizrahi Jews, i.e. Jews from the Middle East.

  • Israel is an apartheid state.

Wrong. Arab citizens of Israel are represented through representatives they vote for and elect in Israel’s Knesset. They attend Israel’s universities, and work, shop, eat and swim in the sea alongside Jewish Israelis. They attain high governmental, commercial and institutional enterprise office, and have the civil rights as any Israeli citizen. The Palestinian Arabs who are victims of “apartheid” are those confined to “refugee camps” by their fellow Arab “hosts,” who exclude them from employment and other life of those countries.

  • Israel stole Palestinian land.

Wrong. Palestinian Arabs have never in history ruled any part of the land of Israel—not “east” Jerusalem, not Judea-Samaria (aka “the West Bank”), not anywhere. Jewish sovereignty has persisted since the biblical kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and since Maccabean Judaea, interrupted only by the Roman destruction of Judaea and other foreign empire invaders until the establishment of modern-day Israel, the land’s next native state. The Jewish homeland has never been “Palestinian” land. In fact, Palestinian Arabs aren’t even considered “The Palestinians” during the time of the British Mandate in the first half of the 20th century. Everyone living there—Christian, Muslim and Jew—were called “Palestinian,” and it was mostly Jews who used that name of themselves: the Palestine Post, Palestine Symphony, Palestine Electric Co. The Arabs considered themselves South Syrians then, not “Palestinian,” which generally referred to the Jews.

  • Jews are not “The Palestinians.” The Arabs are.

Wrong. Palestinian Arabs aren’t “The Palestinians.” The 1947 U.N. Partition Plan referred to the “two Palestinian peoples.” The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) was not even created until 1964. The region was named by the Romans after the Philistines, the sworn enemies of Israel, to disassociate what had been Jewish from Jews.

All efforts to delegitimize Israel—whether from the right or left, by academia and on college campuses, from the BDS movement, at the United Nations or European Union, by the Arab League, Islamofascists or in the media—are indeed red flag signs of anti-Semitism.

Much is based on envy and jealousy of the success of the Jewish people and their tiny state in the direct face of this persistent onslaught. In the course of a short 71 years from winning independence, Jews have created a state that is nothing short of miraculous: a high-tech juggernaut that is at the forefront of  breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture, computer technology and security, to name just a few fields; an open thriving, robust democracy that shares with the world its discoveries and innovations; a first responder of humanitarianism around the globe that respects the civil rights of all its citizens, and where Arabs have more rights than in any state in the Arab world.

Lee Bender is the co-author of the book, “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z,” author of dozens of published articles, co-founder of the website and co-president of the Zionist Organization of America-Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

Jerome R. Verlin, a former vice president of ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia Chapter, is the author of the book, “Israel 3,000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3,000 Year Presence in Palestine,” co-author of “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z” and co-founder of

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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