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February 17, 2013

Zionism and Anti-Semitism - Part I

Edward C. Corrigan

More by this author...

Edward C. Corrigan[1] - One of the favourite tactics of supporters of Israel and Zionism is to accuse their opponents of 'anti-Semitism'. This argument is advanced in an attempt to prevent criticism of Israel from being presented, or to attack the individual or group that is defending Palestinian human rights.

Implicit in this criticism is the idea that all Jews, except a handful of ‘self haters’ support the Israeli state.  Such an argument is inherently anti-Semitic, based as it is on the notion of a collective ethnic adherence to a particular political position.  It also ascribes guilt for Israel’s crimes upon Jewish people collectively.

As Tony Greenstein has written in The Guardian,

   Like the boy who cried wolf, the charge of "anti-semitism" has been made so often against critics of Zionism and the Israeli state that people now have difficulty recognising the genuine article.

   So absurd has the situation become that the allegation of anti-semitism is even made when Jews disagree among themselves. That is why the suggestion by Alvin Rosenfield that "anti-Zionism is the form that much of today's anti-semitism takes" needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

   One of the consequences of this abuse of the term "anti-semitism" is to devalue the currency. It renders it almost meaningless because people assume that allegations of anti-semitism are merely the last-ditch resort of those who are incapable of defending the Apartheid Wall that separates the people of the West Bank from their land, the bulldozing of civilian houses, the wanton destruction of olive groves and crops, to say nothing of the theft of their land.

   Anti-semitism today is not a mainstream form of racism. It is asylum seekers, Muslims and black people who face stop-and-search, control orders and racial profiling, not Jewish people.”[2]

Here is what another Jewish commentator writes on the recent wave of attacks on Jodi Rudoren, a reporter that was assigned by The New York Times to cover Israel, who was criticized by right-wing Zionists for being biased against Israel and anti-Semitic before she had even written an article:

   Yet the real danger in all this is that the rush to throw charges of antisemitism at people who criticise Israel will desensitise vigilance over the real thing. Such tactics are meant to intimidate and paralyze, choke and divert the discussion over Israel's occupation and policies in the Middle East. But for every person silenced, there are growing numbers who, surveying the quality of the argument, will dismiss the pro-right Israel lobby solely on the basis of the bullying. It isn't just the nature of the bashing, but its compulsive frequency, especially when set against the paucity of actual arguments presented.

   As more commentators are now saying: the trouble with this rightist campaign over Israel is in the content, which always trumps the delivery system. Incidentally, this is the theme of one of the articles that Rudoren was lambasted for tweeting, which quotes Beinart, from the book she wasn't supposed to like: "Israel does not have a public relations problem; it has a policy problem."[3]

In February 2012 the David Project released its “white paper” on Israel advocacy in US colleges and universities, titled, “A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges.”[4]

According to a summary published on Mondoweiss, a well known progressive  web site run by Jews, “the report is surprisingly frank about how the anti-Semitism charge is used as a weapon, what is the best way to attack college professors, and which minority groups are best to, in their words, “co-opt.’”

The anti-Semitism charge as a tactic

The report is candid about how the anti-Semitism charge is used as a tactic. What it determines however, is that the tactic is ultimately ineffective and that other tactics should be employed.

Throughout the report, the authors assert that anti-Semitism is not a pervasive problem on college campuses:

   Most American campuses are not hostile environments for most Jewish students . . . The chief concern therefore is not the welfare of Jewish students but that a pervasively negative atmosphere will affect the long-term thinking of current college students, negatively affecting strong bipartisan support for Israel.[5]

Here is an example of some of the advice given in the David Project’s Report:

   ...There is widespread consensus that civil rights enforcement, including efforts to protect the rights of Jewish students, must respect freedom of speech and the doctrine of academic freedom. Contrary efforts could create a campus backlash against Israel supporters that erodes, rather than enhances, Israel’s standing.

   Moreover, legitimate efforts to combat campus Antisemitism could be complicated by overly aggressive complaints, given the current social acceptability of anti-Israelism on many leading campuses.[6]

Here is an excerpt from an article, written by Allan C. Brownfeld who is the Editor of the American Council for Judaism Issues publication. Many articles of interest can be found at the American Council for Judaism web site.[7]

   Attacks on Jewish critics of Zionism and Israeli policies are growing increasingly strident in an effort to silence and isolate the increasing number of men and women who are speaking out.

   One time New Left radical, and now an outspoken neo-conservative, David Horowitz has issued a pamphlet through his David Horowitz Freedom Center entitled “Jewish Enablers of the War against Israel.”  Written by Steven Plaut, it states that, “One of the most wrenching facts of this war against the Jews is the troubling role played by Jewish enablers of anti-semitism…These figures, American and Israeli…have given legitimacy to the revival of Jew hatred.”

   Among those listed are M.I.T. Professor Noam Chomsky (called a “defender of Holocaust Deniers”), retired Princeton Professor Richard Falk, who has investigated human rights abuses for the U.N. Human Rights Council (who is accused of “one-sided indictments of everything Western and a one-sided exoneration of everything anti-Western”),  Jennifer Lowenstein, associate director of the Middle East Studies Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Professor Marc  Ellis, director of the Center for American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University (accused of building “a theological case for the destruction of Israel”), Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of  TIKKUN (referred to as “Rabbi for Jihad”), Joel Beinin, professor of history at Stanford (charged with “subversion of Middle  East studies”), and Professor Judith Butler of the University of California at Berkeley (said to “promote Israel’s annihilation”).

   Many others are named, including a number of prominent Israelis.  Among them are Professors Shlomo Sand and Gadi Algazi of Tel Aviv University, and Neve Gordon and  Oron Yiftachel of Ben Gurion University.  The author concludes:  “the consequences of the venomous words of these Jewish enablers of the war against the Jews are readily apparent.”[8]

In the same article Brownfeld also notes that: 

   The effort to intimidate Jewish critics of Zionism and of Israeli policies----a group whose numbers are growing dramatically---is becoming increasingly strident.

   The use of the term “self-hating Jew” is often applied to such critics.  One place to find this label flung at Jewish critics has been the website Masada2000, whose “S.H.I.T. List” (“Self-hating and/or Israel-Threatening”) contained almost 8,000 names, often with photographs and personal and professional contact information before the site was taken off the web by its host service.[9]

Brownfeld writes in his conclusion:

  1. I believe the way our community has chosen to ‘defend Israel’ has profoundly alienated the next generation of American Jews…A generation of Jews who see themselves as global citizens will not identify with a community that offers them anything less.”

   Freedom of speech, and a search for justice are essential elements of the Jewish tradition---as is “wrestling” with God himself.  It is time for the organized American Jewish community to return to those values.[10]

The argument that criticism of Israel’s policies or of political Zionism is antisemitic has little or no merit. The tactic is used to try to silence or discredit criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Facts and rational discussion gets drowned out by a barrage of Antisemitism allegations which often have little or no basis in reality. Jews who criticize Israel are also attacked for being “self-hating Jews” or Jews who enable Antisemitism.

One must acknowledge, however, that Antisemitism still exists and that some Anti-Semites express their Antisemitism by attacking “the Jewish State” and by blaming all Jews for the actions of “the Jewish State.” Again it is important to make the distinction that all Jews do not support the actions of “the Jewish State” toward the Palestinians or even actions undertaken by Israel in the name of the Jewish People.

One also must not confuse anti-Israelism with anti-Semitism. One can be critical of the actions of a State, or its government, without blaming all of its people or fellow religious adherents. One cannot blame all Christians or Muslims for actions taken by extremists in their community. The same principle applies to Jews and all other groups.

As Michael Selzer writes, “Zionism is a complex phenomenon, adequately understood by only a small percentage of its critics and by even a smaller percentage of its supporters.”[11]  As Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel and former leader of the World Zionist Congress noted: To be a Zionist it is not necessary to be mad, but it helps.”[12] 

As prominent Israeli writer, A B Yehoshua, states on the relationship between anti-Semitism and Zionism:

   Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help to rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.[13]

Zionism is based largely on the belief that Jews have suffered persecution for the last 2,000 years due to the fact that they were strangers in the lands of others. The solution proposed by the Zionists is that Jews should have a land of their own just like the English, French, Germans and other peoples. Ignored is the question that one can be Jewish and English or Jewish and American at the same time. One cannot be a Jewish Christian or Jewish Muslim.

Religion, or for that matter race or ethnicity, do not have any bearing on citizenship or nationality in countries like the United States and Canada. However this is not the case in “the Jewish State.” Almost entirely absent from political Zionism is discussion of the rights of the Indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. The answer is that they have none.

Tony Greenstein writes on the relationship between Zionism and Antisemitism in his pamphlet, “Anti-Semitism and its Zionist Shadow,”

   What is surprising is that the Zionists appealed to the anti-Semites on the basis of a shared ideological outlook. Nowhere is this clearer than in the memo from the Zionist Federation of Germany to the Nazis (21. 6. 1933).”[14]

Lenni Brenner in Zionism in the Age of Dictators quotes from the Zionist Memorandum to the Nazis.

   …An answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural, and moral renewal of Jewry … a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group. For the Jew, too, origin, religion, community of fate and group consciousness must be of decisive significance in the shaping of his life …

   On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race, we wish so to fit our community into the total structure so that for us too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the Fatherland is possible … Our acknowledgement of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities.... answer to the Jewish Question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural and moral renewal of Jewry... Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we too, are against mixed marriages and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group.[15]

Further evidence of the collaboration between Nazis and the Zionists is a “Nazi-Zionist” medallion was issued by Goebbel’s daily Der Angriff to commemorate a joint visit to Zionist Palestine by SS officer Leopold von Mildenstein and Zionist Federation official Kurt Tuchler. A series on their tour was published, “A Nazi Travels to Palestine,” and appeared in Der Angriff in late 1934.[16]

Greenstein writes further on the relationship between Zionism and Antisemitism:

   ...Zionism, far from being the anti thesis of anti-Semitism, is its ‘twin in Jewish Garb’ to quote an early pamphlet of the German Anti Zionist Committee. That far from representing a challenge to anti-Semitism, Zionism represents the complete abandonment of any fight against it. That Zionism accepts the main thesis of the anti-Semites, namely that the Jews do not belong in the societies they were born and grew up in. That they are in ‘exile’ (Galut) and hence the mission of the Israeli state is the ‘ingathering of the exiles’.[17]

As David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel and the third major figure in Zionist history after Herzl and Weizmann, noted in respect of the Zionist Organisation:

   ...implicit in their ideology was that the Jews were a foreign element in the countries where they lived.[18]

There are many Jews both inside of Israel and in the Diaspora that are extremely critical of Zionism. A recent article published in the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on a survey in which 10 percent of Israeli academics are labeled 'anti-Zionist' by campus watchdogs. The survey identifies as anti-Zionist more than 1,000 Israelis, 800 of whom are academics but also including authors, journalists, public intellectuals, and past and present cabinet ministers.[19]

Zionism is a political movement and a political ideology. It has little or nothing to do with the religion of Judaism. The majority of Israeli Jews are secular and not religious.[20] Many Christians are Zionists.

Zionism's aim was to create a national home for the Jews. A number of locations were considered including Palestine, Egypt, Madagascar, Uganda and Argentina.[21] Stalin even created Birobidzhan as a "Soviet Jewish Homeland."[22]

Political Zionism, as a secular national movement, is, in a large part, based on Theodore Herzl's pamphlet Der Judenstaat, usually translated as "The Jewish State." The title is more properly translated from the German as "The Jew State." Theodore Herzl even accepted a British proposal to establish a Jewish "national home" in Uganda (now in what is a part of Kenya), along the lines of the existing White settler colonial states in South Africa, Rhodesia, and Algeria and other places in Africa.[23] Early Zionist leaders often promoted Zionism as a colonial movement.

Antisemitism, which is hatred of Jews for them being Jews, is morally wrong, politically wrong and legally wrong as it violates laws against discrimination. Jews suffered much persecution in Europe at the hands of Christians who somehow blame all of the Jews for the Roman's crucifying Jesus even though the crucifixion is a necessary tenant of their faith.

Medieval Antisemitism has its origins in religious conflict. Many Christians saw Judaism as a competing religion and a threat to the Christian based political and social order in Europe. There also was an economic component in the role Jews played as intermediator between the political elite and the peasantry, for example as tax collectors. The economic role and frequently restricted role played by Jews in European society created social problems and also made them disposable when necessary, or even convenient. However, the religious, social and economic origins of Antisemitism are still an area where there is much divergent opinion and ongoing debate.

Jews were also made scape goats by many political leaders for economic or political problems. This practice was widespread in Eastern Europe and in Russia. Part of this motivation was the fact the leadership of the Socialist and Communist movements, the primary political opposition, contained many Jews and that these movements were secular and even antireligious and challenged the religiously legitimated feudal order of the day.

Zionism was promoted as an antidote to Jews getting involved with “revolutionary movements” that were challenging the economic and social order dominating Europe at the time.

Herzl was clear in his mind as to the counter-revolutionary nature of the Zionist movement. In a draft of a letter to the German Kaiser Herzl wrote that:

   Our movement, which is already widespread, has everywhere to fight an embittered battle with the revolutionary parties which rightly sense an adversary in it. We are in need of encouragement even though it has to be a carefully kept secret.[24]

Herzl made this argument, to a Russian Grand Duke the latter replied, regarding the need to keep the Zionist societies legal in Russia thatPobedonostev ought to hear that. You should tell it to him.”[25]

Greenstein comments on this method to try to divert Jews from “revolutionary parties” to Zionism:

   Poboedonostev was possibly the most anti-Semitic of the Czar’s ministers and in conversation with the German Foreign Minister, (later Chancellor), von Bulow, Herzl explained that “the anti-Socialist aspect of Zionism was gone into in the greatest detail.”[26] And when he finally got to see the Kaiser, he lost no time in explaining that “we were taking the Jews away from the revolutionary parties.”[27]

This anti-Jewish sentiment culminated in the Holocaust. It is easy to focus only on the Nazis for this evil but Antisemitism was wide spread in Britain and France, most of the rest of Europe, and in the United States. In 1939 Canada turned back a boat load of Jewish refugees from Germany on the ship the St. Louis. Here is an excerpt from an article published in the Jewish Independent:

   The tragic consequences of this policy were never more clearly illustrated than in Canada's shameful part in turning back the ship The St. Louis. In 1939, 900 Jewish refugees left Hamburg on this boat bound for Havana, Cuba. Approaching Havana harbor, they discovered they had been duped by a corrupt official and their visas were not valid. Cuba would not allow the ship entry. Jews everywhere appealed for a country to admit these refugees and the St. Louis sailed from port to port in search of asylum. After they were refused entry by the United States, Canada was the last hope for these desperate souls, but King said their plight was not Canada's problem, and forced the ship to return to Europe. During the terrible years of the Nazi regime, Canada accepted a mere 500 refugees.[28]

In early 1945, by an unidentified Canadian immigration agent was asked how many Jews would be allowed in Canada after the war. He replied, "None is too many." However, the anti-Jewish, anti-Asian and anti-Black immigration policy at the time was supported by Western political elites. This is a shameful period of the United States, Canada's and of Europe's past.[29]

Alfred Lilienthal in his book, The Zionist Connection II, What Price Peace details how Zionists worked hard to maintain anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish Immigration policies to prevent Jews from immigrating to Western counties and to leave them no alternative but to go to Palestine or Israel.[30]


[1] Edward C. Corrigan is a lawyer certified as a Specialist in Citizenship and Immigration Law and Immigration and Refugee Protection by the Law Society of Upper Canada in London, Ontario, Canada. He can be reached at or at (519) 439-4015. He has published many articles on Middle East issues and Citizenship and Immigration law. The author would like to thank Allan C. Brownfeld, Tony Greenstein and Dr. Norton Mezvinsky for their review of the article and editorial suggestions. However, all content, errors and omissions are the sole responsibility of the author. 

[2] "The seamy side of solidarity," by Tony Greenstein, The Guardian, Comment is free, February 19, 2007.

[3] "False accusations of antisemitism desensitise us to the real thing," by Rachel Shabi,  Comment is free, The Guardian, February 17, 2012.

[4] See A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges. Link at

[5] "Pro-Israel handbook explains how to attack professors and ‘co-opt’ students of color," by Phan Nguyen, Mondoweiss, Feb 16, 2012

[6] Op Cit, A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges, para 67.

[7]  American Council for Judaism web site at

[8]"Freedom of Speech Is under Increasing Assault Within the Jewish Community," by Allan C. Brownfeld, American Council for Judaism, ISSUES, Winter 2012

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid

[11] “Introduction” by Michael Selzer in Zionism Reconsidered, edited by Michael Selzer, (London: The Macmillian Company, 1970) p. xi. This conclusion is based on Michael Selzer’s book, The Wineskin and the Wizard: The Problem of Jewish Power in the Context of East European Jewish History, (New York: Macmillian, 1970).

[12] Amos Elon, The Israelis-Founders and Sons, (Weidenfeld, 1971), p.106.

[13]  Jewish Chronicle (Britain) January 22, 1982 cited in “Anti-Semitism and its Zionist Shadow,” by Tony Greenstein, (Self published Pamphlet, 1987) p. 3. 

[14] Op Cit., “Anti-Semitism and its Zionist Shadow,” by Tony Greenstein, (Palestine Solidarity Campaign , 1987), p. 2. 

[15]  Joachim Prinz, Zionism under the Nazi Government, Young Zionist (London, November 1937.) Quoted in Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, (London: Croom Helm, 1983), pp. 48-49 citing Lucy Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, pp. 150-155.

[16] See pictures of the Zionist Nazi  medallion at

[17] Op Cit., “Anti-Semitism and its Zionist Shadow,” by Tony Greenstein, (Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 1987) at p. 3.

[18] M Pearlmann, Ben-Gurion Looks Back, Weidenfeld, 1965, p. 239 cited in “Anti-Semitism and its Zionist Shadow,” by Tony Greenstein, (Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 1987), at  p. 3.

[19]"10 percent of Israeli academics labeled 'anti-Zionist' by campus watchdogs," by Talila Nesher, Haaretz, January 22, 2012 found at:.

[20] “Who is a Jew?,” by Rebecca Weiner, Jewish Virtual Library, retrieved on February 9, 2012 

[21] See Wikipedia for a discussion of possible locations and the motivations for such proposals. . See also

[22] See Stalin’s Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and the making of a Soviet Jewish Homeland, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)

[23]  "The Uganda Proposal," Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2009-07-08.

[24] Op Cit., Herzl’s Complete Diaries, p. 596.

[25] Ibid., p. 657.

[26] Ibid. p. 666.

[27] Ibid. p. 666.

[28] See

[29]  See 

and for a useful summary of Canada's shameful history of anti-Immigrant and anti-Jewish immigration policy.

[30] See Alfred Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection II: What Price Peace,” (New Brunswick, New Jersey: North American, 1982). Also see Yosef Grodazinsky, In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Struggle Between the Jews and the Zionists in the Aftermath of World War II, (Commom Courage Press: Monroe, Maine, 2004).

See Part II

  • Think green before you print
  • Respond to the editor
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