Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism
by Stephen Lendman
April 18, 2013Ronnie Fraser heads The Academic Friends of Israel (AFI). According to its mission statement, it was established to "fight the academic boycott of Israel and all other forms of anti-Semitism in the UK and the International academic and scientific arenas."
In 2011, Fraser sued Britain's University and College Union (UCU). He did so on anti-Semitism grounds. As a member, he claimed its "degrading, humiliating and offensive environment" harms Jewish members.
Its policies "violate his dignity." They breach Britain's Equality Act, he alleged. "In simple terms," he said, "the UCU is not a place that is hospitable to Jews."
His lawyer, Anthony Julius added:
"My client has had enough. He believes that the UCU's conduct, over so many years now, has limited his options to either resigning or suing. He has chosen to sue."
UCU rejects the EU Working Definition of Antisemitism. It does so on grounds of "silencing debate on Israel." Fraser opposes its position. Specific passages UCU rejects include:
- "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor
- applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
- using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis
- drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel."
More on Fraser's case below.
His equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Doing so twists truth. Understanding Zionism is fundamental. It's undemocratic, racist, oppressive and violent. It believes in Jewish exclusivity, privilege and exceptionalism.
Israeli Jews alone have rights. Muslims are considered subhuman. Jewish ethnocracy is justified. It's rife with structural inequalities.
Israeli Arabs may vote and hold Knesset seats. Government rulings require a Jewish majority. The Law of Return is for Jews alone. On virtually all issues, Jewish favoritism discriminates against Palestinians. Their rights are systematically denied.
In his book "Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine," Joel Kovel writes:
Zionism seeks "the restoration of tribalism in the guise of a modern, highly militarized and aggressive state."
"(It) cut Jews off from (their) history and led to a fateful identity of their interests with antisemitism (becoming) the only thing that united them."
"(It) fell into the ways of imperialist expansion and militarism, and showed signs of the fascist malignancy."
Accepting "the idea of a Jewish state," mixes its twin notions of "particularism (and) exceptionalism."
They're "the actual bane of Judaism."
They give "racism an objective, enduring, institutionalized and obdurate character."
Doing so turns Israel "into a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses."
Consider three former prime ministers. Menachem Begin (1977 - 83), Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 84 and 1986 - 92), and Ariel Sharon (2001 - 06) were former terrorists. They dispelled the illusion of Israeli democracy, morality, and respect for human rights.
According to Kovel, "the world would be a far better place without (the corrosive effects of) Zionism."
Indeed so. Israel occupies Palestinian land. Gaza's under siege. Naked aggression is called self-defense. Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism.
Israel considers civilians legitimate targets. Children are treated like adults. Racism is institutionalized. Land theft is policy. So are dispossessions, ruthless persecution, and denying non-Jews their fundamental rights.
Peace is spurned. Conflict, violence and other human rights abuses persist. Palestinians endure cruel and unusual punishment. International laws don't matter. Israeli war crimes go unpunished.
It gets away with murder with impunity. Doing so reflects the worst of Zionist extremism. Many Jews oppose it. They do so for good reason.
In his book "The Hidden History of Zionism," Ralph Schoenman explained four Zionist myths:
- "A land without people for a people without a land" promotes the fiction of uninhabited Palestine awaiting its rightful inhabitants;
- Israeli democracy is illusory; it's no more democratic than apartheid South Africa;
- "security (is) the motor force of Israeli foreign policy;" it's because of false claims about hostile neighboring Arab states; and
- "Zionism (is) the moral legatee of the victims of the Holocaust. (It's) the most pervasive and insidious" Zionist myth.
Colonizing Palestine had multiple aims. Stealing it matters most. Exploiting cheap labor was planned. So was dispossessing and dispersing Palestinians, replacing them with Jews, legitimizing ethnic cleansing, and destroying Arab culture and history.
Historical records were falsified. "Palestinians were re-invented as a semi-savage, nomadic remnant." State terror became policy.
In 1940, Jewish Agency Colonization Department head Joseph Weitz said:
"Between ourselves, it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to (get rid of) all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left."
The Koenig Report said:
"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."
Other Israeli officials expressed similar extremism. In 1937, David Ben-Gurion said:
"We must expel the Arabs and take their place and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places - then we have force at our disposal."
He and others, earlier and now, reflect Zionism's dark side. It harms Jews and non-Jews alike. Conflating it with anti-Semitism doesn't wash.
An employment tribunal ruling agreed. It "unanimously adjudge(d) that:
(1) the Claimant's complaints of unlawful harassment are not well-founded.
(2) Save in so far as they are based on acts or omissions which occurred on or after 26 May 2011, the Claimant's complaints of unlawful harassment are in any event outside the Tribunal's jurisdiction.
(3) Accordingly, the proceedings are dismissed."
A detailed explanation followed.
On April 8, Haaretz headlined "British Jewry in turmoil after tribunal blasts pro-Israeli activist for bringing harassment case."
Ruling on Fraser's case "was meant to be culmination of 11 years of pro-Israel activism, but ruling that 'attachment to Israel….is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness' has caused shock waves in the Jewish community."
Fraser's suit had considerable financial backing. Organizations involved have links to "the central British Jewry leadership forums, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Fraser's case included 10 complaints. At issue was alleged "institutional anti-Semitism."
UCU is identified with anti-Israeli activism. It supports boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Anti-Semitism charges don't wash. UCU justifiably denied them. Its Jewish members aren't harassed.
Fraser's allegations were ill-conceived. They're illogical and unfounded.
He falsely believes Jews universally identify with Israel. When an organization they belong to levies charges they consider unfair, it constitutes a direct attack on them.
Not so. Zionism and anti-Semitism are distinctive. Conflating them doesn't wash. It's a canard. It's a scheme to divide Jews into good and bad categories.
Judge AM Snelson headed the Tribunal panel. He agreed with UCU's position. So did other panel members unanimously.
They said "a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness."
It added that Fraser "must accept his fair share of minor injuries. A political activist accepts the risk of being offended or hurt on occasions."
He was criticized for filing suit. The Tribunal called doing so an "impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means."
It expressed a "worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression."
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said she was "delighted that the tribunal made such a clear and overwhelming judgment. (It) upholds our and others' right of freedom of expression."
UCU "remain(s) opposed to discrimination of any kind, including anti-Semitism."
Fraser accepted defeat. He had no other choice. He won't appeal. He expressed disappointment.
He urged British Jewish leaders to establish "a definition of anti-Semitism that includes belief in Zionism and an attachment to Israel which should amount to a protected right of Jews. It's what we have been praying for for 2,000 years."
It bears repeating. Conflating Zionism with anti-Semitism doesn't wash. Claiming otherwise won't change things.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."