OpinionAntisemitism

‘Zionism is racism’ is thriving

Just wait for the Democratic National Convention.

Anti-Israel demonstrators protest at a "Get Out The Vote" rally the weekend before the Democratic Party primary in New York, June 22, 2024. Credit: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images.
Anti-Israel demonstrators protest at a "Get Out The Vote" rally the weekend before the Democratic Party primary in New York, June 22, 2024. Credit: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images.
Dr. Eric R. Mandel
Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network, senior security editor of The Jerusalem Report and a contributor to The Hill and The Jerusalem Post. He regularly briefs member of Congress and their foreign policy advisers about the Middle East.

In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly, which had evolved from an organization of democracies at its founding to an association dominated by anti-American, anti-Western and antisemitic authoritarian regimes, passed its infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution.

In 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush orchestrated the rescinding of this infamous resolution. Unfortunately, even before the ink was dry, the world continued to treat Israel as the Jew among nations and a racist, colonialist enterprise. The term “Zionism” remained a pejorative term used against Jewish people, who were indicted on the charge of Jewish racism, Israeli apartheid and Palestinian genocide.

Oct. 7 was a call to action for the “Zionism is racism” crowd that dominates the far-left and a frighteningly high number of university academics, all of whom will be front and center at the Democratic convention this summer.

The massacre and the antisemitic reaction in America was a wakeup call for American Jews who were oblivious to the antisemitism going on for years and were suddenly shocked to learn that many of their neighbors and colleagues were not their friends on Facebook anymore because they were infected with the belief that Israel does not have the right to exist as a Jewish state. To this crowd, to be Jewish is to be a Zionist, which is something vile.

Five years ago, Al Jazeera published the following op-ed, which is representative of the anti-Israel thought that was and is pervasive on many campuses and within the far-left “Squad” and its sympathizers. It is little different from the Soviet Union’s propaganda based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, embraced for years by the far-left and its Islamist partners:

“Early Zionists syncretized many aspects of European fascism, white supremacy, colonialism and messianic Evangelism and had a long and sordid history of cooperating with antisemites, imperialists and fascists in order to promote exclusivist and expansionist agendas … [working] towards the mutual interest of concentrating Jews in Israel … as a means of scapegoating and expelling an unwanted population … to combat the demographic threat posed by native Palestinians. … Antisemites and Zionists construct Jews as a biological race, which needs to be segregated as part of a utopian global apartheid.”

The organization Black Lives Matter picked up this rhetoric, morphing into today’s pro-Hamas protestor encampments that intimidate and attack Jews. Written on some of the pro-Hamas encampments are signs saying Zionists are not welcome. On a New York City subway, masked pro-Hamas agitators tell subway riders that all Zionists must identify themselves and leave the train. In Los Angeles, Jews minding their own business at a café are attacked. 

The threats are real. This is not Paris or London—where outwardly Jewish symbols have been an invitation to Islamists to threaten your safety—but New York and Los Angeles, in America, the place Jews thought was permanently safe. 

Adam Milstein wrote, “Many pro-Hamas activists deny that this wave of antisemitism is rooted in Jew-hatred, claiming their actions support the Palestinian cause and are rooted in anti-Zionism. This claim is both outlandish and dangerous. Hurting Jews does not aid Palestinians. … The only motive behind these attacks is pure anti-Semitism. … Anti-Zionism is a thinly veiled disguise for antisemitism.”

So, what does Zionism really mean? 

Even to most American Jews, when you say the word “Zionist,” they seem to cringe. Zionism is the legitimate quest of the Jewish people to have a national dimension to their identity. Jewish identity encompasses nationhood (Zionism), religion, culture, tradition and a 4,000-year-old civilization spanning every race under the sun. After nearly 2,000 years of jihads, Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, dhimmi status and the Holocaust, the formation by the Jews of a nation with its territory in their ancestral homeland is entirely in line with the norms of the civilized modern world.

One can be left or right, religious or secular, Jewish or not and be a Zionist. President Joe Biden has said he is a Zionist. However, the fear is that he may be the last American Democratic president to take that risk, especially after what is likely to transpire with tens of thousands of pro-Hamas demonstrators creating havoc at the Democratic National Convention this August.

On the American college campus, being pro-Israel—in other words, believing Israel has a legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state—or wearing a Jewish star or a kippah puts your physical well-being at risk, not to mention the damage to your mental health caused by dealing with the intimidation, stigmatization and abandonment by university administrators.

Pro-Hamas protesters, with the support of faculty and university officers, who cowardly choose not to protect pro-Israel students, feel immune to consequences. The Manhattan district attorney has claimed he could not prosecute Columbia students blatantly breaking the law because of face coverings. Would he say that if the KKK did the same things to African-American students?

This should be a wake-up call to New York Governor Kathy Hochul to reinstate the ban on face coverings, as masks create a lawless society and give an excuse to sympathetic progressive prosecutors to avoid enforcing the law.

The best way to fight anti-Zionism and protect Jewish students is for Congress to pass the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), making the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition the gold standard for defining antisemitism. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed it on a bipartisan basis and it now needs to be brought to a vote on the Senate floor.

Senator Chuck Schumer, where are you?

This summer, the voices supporting and excusing Hamas’s use of sexual assault as legitimate resistance and calling for the end of the Jewish state will be reported on by every American and international news outlet at the Democratic National Convention.

The chaos of what may now be an open convention and the demonstrators knowing that the more egregious their antics, the more they will garner increased coverage, will magnify the general mood of anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred. Combine that with an ongoing war in Gaza, a possible war in the north and Judea and Samaria a tinderbox, and you have all the makings of a “Zionism is racism” festival with fainthearted liberal Democratic Zionists at the convention intimidated much like the Jewish college students. Sounds like 1939 Germany.

However, I believe the American people are not far-left or far-right, but overwhelmingly people who know the Israel-haters and antisemites are dangerous crazies. Americans yearn for normality and a leader we can be proud of. They know Zionism is not racism and that excusing radical Islamist behavior and intimidation is wrong for America. But we must get past this anarchy and the election season to find a new balance and let saner heads prevail. Americans of goodwill must not be fatigued or intimidated by the voices of hatred.

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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