Commentary Magazine


Anti-Zionism Always Equals Anti-Semitism

The reaction to the fighting in Gaza — which may or may not be formally concluding soon with a cease-fire — continues to produce symptoms of Europe’s age-old disease: anti-Semitism. The latest evidence of this vile behavior not only raises questions about the precarious position of European Jewry but also gives the lie to the claim that one can be an anti-Zionist without slipping inevitably into Jew hatred.

The incident involves a branch of chain supermarket store called Sainsbury’s in central London’s Holborn neighborhood. The store was the object of an anti-Zionist protest that sought to remove all foods from its shelved of Israeli origin. Such efforts have become commonplace, especially in the United Kingdom and Ireland where anti-Israeli activists are no longer content to call for boycotts of the Jewish state but are now taking matters into their own hands and entering stores and removing the offensive goods from the shelves without permission. But at this particular Sainsbury’s outlet, the demonstrators became so aggressive that they scared the store management into going even farther toward ensuring that the store was off limits to anything with a Jewish taint.

According to the Guardian:

A Sainsbury’s branch removed kosher food from its shelves over fears that anti-Israeli protesters would attack it.

The branch manager of the store in Holborn, central London ordered the section to be emptied on Saturday afternoon, while protesters outside picketed it calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. The move prompted outrage after a photo of the empty shelves was posted on social media.

Colin Appleby, who took the photo, said the kosher section contained food made in the UK and Poland. He added that a staff member defended the decision, saying: “We support Free Gaza.”

“I didn’t try to point out that kosher goods were not Israeli goods but they walked away,” he wrote on Facebook.

This marks a new low in anti-Zionist agitation but also illustrates that despite the hair-splitting by some ideologues and their apologists the distance to travel between hatred for Israel and that directed at all Jews isn’t very far.

This protest also illustrates the intellectual bankruptcy of those claiming to protest Israeli actions in the name of human rights. Those who have taken to the streets against Israel as well as storming stores with Israeli or kosher goods say they support “Free Gaza.” But what, in fact, they are supporting is not a free Gaza but a Hamas-ruled Islamist state. Their protests are implicit endorsement not so much of the right of Gazans to go about their lives without being subjected to attack as they are backing of Hamas’ genocidal war on Israel. Were they actually the least bit concerned about the Palestinians who have been killed or wounded in the fighting they would, instead be directing their protests against the strip’s Hamas rulers who have squandered foreign aid on the infrastructure of terror including tunnels aimed at facilitating cross-border raids and an arsenal of thousands of rockets that have rained down on Israeli cities.

Protests against Israel’s efforts to defend itself against Hamas are, almost by definition, exercises in hypocrisy.

Even if one disagrees with Israeli policies on the West Bank, Hamas’s “resistance” against the “occupation,” has nothing to do with hilltop settlements on land that could theoretically become part of a Palestinian state but are, instead, focused on “liberating” all of pre-1967 Israel and evicting or slaughtering its Jewish population. But even if the Gaza protests were solely about what happens on the West Bank (which could have already become an independent Palestinian state had the Palestinian Authority been willing to say yes to peace offers in 2000, 2001, 2008 and this past spring), it bears pointing out that the frenzy that the fighting in Gaza has generated is out of all proportion to the scale of suffering there when compared to other conflicts. The fact that those who protest against alleged Israeli brutality have nothing to say about the fact that other Muslims in Syria and half a dozen other Arab countries are currently killing far more Muslims than who have died in Gaza is significant.

Anti-Zionists are ready to deny to the Jews the same rights of self-determination and self-defense that every other people planet is granted without controversy. As such, they are practicing a form of prejudice. Since the term of art for prejudice against Jews is called anti-Semitism, there is no doubt that those who agitate against Israel’s existence are anti-Semites.

Were these people merely seeking to rid supermarket shelves of Israeli products rather than anything kosher no matter its country of origin it would not be any more defensible. But when anti-Zionists start targeting anything connected with Jews they are merely pointing out that the gap between their positions and those of the Nazi-like Hamas is a distinction without a difference. Their zeal to target Jews shows they are rapidly absorbing the crude Jew-hatred that is being imported to Europe from the Middle East.

Europe’s streets have been filled with protesters against Israel’s anti-terror counter-offensive in Gaza spewing all kinds of hate speech and sometimes, as in Paris, morphing into anti-Semitic riots. But this behavior is also being encouraged by stunts like the decision of Glasgow’s City Hall to fly a Palestinian flag in a gesture of support for Hamas, it’s easy to see why some of the demonstrators are feeling free to vent their anti-Semitism rather than stick to more defensible behavior. A Europe that has come to view Hamas and its platform as acceptable is not only ready to believe anything, no matter how preposterous. It also showing that there may be no turning back from a descent into a new period of European barbarism toward Jews.

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9 Responses to “Anti-Zionism Always Equals Anti-Semitism”

  1. BEN ORLANSKI says:

    Although the blatant double standard–Israel gets criticized for things that no one else does in comparable circumstances–is more than sufficient to prove that Anti-Zionism is a form of Anti-Semitism, Dennis Prager has pointed out why you don’t even need to make that argument:

    Belief in the return to Zion and the sacredness of the Land of Israel is, except for the extreme ultra-orthodox, a fundamental tenant of Judaism. A political program such as Anti-Zionism whose sole purpose is to deny a fundamental tenant of Judaism is anti-Semitic.

    A political position to eliminate the a political manifestation of a religion, a part of which religion is a political manifestation, is tantamount to saying that such religion is only valid if it amends itself to eliminate its political manifestation.

    To be fair, if (and I say if truly without knowing) Islam unambiguously required a Caliphate as a fundamental part of Islam, then a political program of “Anti-Caliphatism” would be anti-Islamic.

    • JACK LEVEY says:

      Ben, it would be more accurate to say that belief in the return to Zion and the sacredness of the Land of Israel is, a fundamental tenant of Judaism, period. Where the ultra-orthodox (to use an insulting and ignorant term that I prefer to avoid) is whether it is religiously permitted for Jews to establish a state in the Land of Israel before the advent of Moshiach. This issue is, as they say, above my pay grade, but I hasten to note that even among what you call the extreme ultra-orthodox, all but a small fringe agree that the State of Israel, once established, must be permitted to protect itself and its citizens against those who would murder them.

  2. ELLIOTT GREEN says:

    Jonathan, you wrote a very good column as usual. But I think that you miss one essential point. The very notion of a “Palestinian people” –that never existed in history– is meant to supply an alternative claimant to the Land of Israel, which the previous identification of Palestinian Arabs in 1948 as part of the Arab nation could not do. As such the “Palestinian people” notion is a strategic threat to Israel, eventhough some may see it as a mere name, a mere product or attribute of mind. As if a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. That may work for roses but in politics names can be not only evocative but politically potent, as the late Joel Carmichael once implied.
    In my view, not only is the country name “palestine” and the name of a newly emergent people, that is “palestinians” [since the 1960s] historically false but it was meant as a weapon of psychological warfare against Israel from its origins.

    • F JAY HOENEMEYER says:

      Exactly so . ” Palestine ” was anything more than a convenient label for a piece of real setae formerly part of the Ottoman Empire . Rather than use the the Ottoman labels , the sanjuks and villayets , the Sykes -Picot types went back to their roman history and cooped the old roman province name . There has never been a Palestine as as a true polity . However as turnabout is fair play , I think we should stop referring to this “West Bank ” thing and refer to those lands as Judea and Samaria.And then we can adopt Caroline Glick’s Two State Solution.

      • BEATRICE STEIN says:

        There was a Palestine. It was the name the Romans gave to Israel in 135AD after the Bar Kokhba rebellion in 132AD.

      • JACK LEVEY says:

        I am told that maps published before 1948 did indeed refer to those areas as Judea and Samaria, and that the term “West Bank” was another political weapon that the Arab states coined to describe the land that the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan illegally invaded in the 1948 war to destroy the newly created State of Israel, and subsequently annexed.


    Natan Sharansky just wrote a great Op Ed in which he stated that Israel should be held to a higher standard, just as other nations, and that there should be an agreement on what that is. Holding Israel alone to that higher standard would be a double standard.

  4. MARTIN GRAY says:

    To British and French Jews – Get out while you can. It will only get worse.


    Every step of the slide to overt, modern European anti-Semitism has been paved with appeasement of violent European Muslim populations and the willing accelerant of uncontrite, unregenerate European Jew-haters. The holiday of shame, that period of reeducation of German society that followed the second World War, was a holding action that, despite the Jewish community post-War rebirth in Europe, was on a civilizational arc toward a reprise of the same drama that nearly wiped out the Jews there, but without the brand-German quality of hate. Now it is generalized; it does not matter if all the Jews finally disappear form Europe, as it did not matter 70 years ago. The exodus of Jews from Malmo, the near-insane Norwegian and Irish aspersions on Jews, the French shrewd calculation of the Muslim vote, the uphill climb of a Geert Wilders against a similar calculation by the Dutch, the absolute denial of the issue by the British, the insistence on using every Israeli war as the casus belli against Europe’s Jews–these are not the indicators of a strong, healthy civics. Without the will to confront every lie of Islamism and its political inroads, and shake off the cultural timidity of European populations, the Jews will do for a while to stave off the Christian day of reckoning.

    The really sad conclusion to be drawn about this decline–not just the loss of shelves of Kosher food–, is that the day of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the remaining Jews of Europe, to insist on Western cultural norms, and the rightness of Jewish and Israeli values, will have long since expired by the time everyone in Europe realizes that appeasement was not a good strategy, and that the Jews were not the enemies.

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