Why Zionism is racism

“Zionism is the belief that Palestinians can and must be expelled from their homeland so that settlers can take their place.”

In this short video, my colleague Ali Abunimah explains the true meaning of Zionism in a nutshell.

As the United Nations General Assembly determined by a large majority in 1975, “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

Although that resolution was repealed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, due in part to US and Israeli pressure, it is as true today as ever.

As Ali explains, in recent years, Zionist organizations have attempted to muddy the waters using a debased form of identity politics.

As I have reported for the last several years, this has been particularly successful on the left in the UK, with lifelong anti-racists like Jeremy Corbyn smeared as anti-Semitic due to their Palestine solidarity activism and their leftism.

“You made me feel unsafe”

As Ali explains, they have been trying to “convert Zionism into some sort of personal identity thing. So that if you say I’m a Zionist, and then I say to you, well Zionism is racism, it’s like: Oh my God, you attacked me, you hurt my feelings, you made me feel unsafe.”

I found this observation particularly astute after the Israel lobby’s campaign against the Labour Party from within over the last few years.

Even a minority on the Labour left – such as Momentum founder Jon Lansman – argue that Zionism should have immunity from criticism.

The video clip is from last week’s online discussion panel, “From Corbyn to Sanders: Are Zionist Organizations Targeting Progressive Politicians?” It was hosted by anti-Zionist Israeli campaigner and author Miko Peled.

Also participating in the discussion were US author and radio host Dr. Wilmer Leon and former Labour MP Chris Williamson – who was himself smeared and ultimately forced out of the party.

You can watch the entire panel in the video below.

I spoke on the panel for part two of the discussion on Wednesday night. You can watch the video of this second panel on Miko Peled’s YouTube channel now.

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I appreciate Ali Abunimah's forceful and clear definition. Also, Zionism was promoted to imperialist powers as a way to establish a friendly state in the Middle East for western capitalist dominance and a bulwark against Soviet Russia and had a "colonialist and racist outlook pervasive among the European ruling classes." (Palestine: Israel and the U.S. Empire, Richard Becker, p. 23)

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I think it's useful to adhere to Thomas Suarez's distinction between spiritual Zionism and ethno-political Zionism. The former is a set of beliefs which like any others, people must have an absolute right to hold. If I want to believe there are fairies at the bottom of my garden, I should be free to do so. The problem arises if I insist you believe so too and if my belief transmogrifies into a political creed, say, those who don't believe in fairies will have their democratic rights curtailed. That ethno-political Zionism is racist is confirmed by defining it as the sum total of the policies of the Israeli State since 1948. The "identity politics" Ali refers to is really an expression of the so-called "new anti-Semitism". (See Jonathan Cook: Disappearing Palestine p 231). The essence of this is that the liberal left is in cahoots with extreme Islamism and has absorbed its anti-Semitism. The colonial European countries exported their racism to the Arabs and now the Arabs are feeding it back. Thus, the left is indisputably stained with anti-Semitism which it disguises as anti-Zionism. All people on the left are anti-Semitic, whether they know it or not. Thus, their denials of anti-Semitism are its proof. Chalk another one up for Orwell. This is extreme thought control. It goes further than Big Brother and The Ministry of Truth in that it attributes thoughtcrime and those accused have no means of escape. Of course, all that is really going on is the old Zionist nonsense that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. The latter should be tightly defined: hatred of Jews because they are Jews. Criticism of Israel or of Zionism is not hatred; it is the rational procedure of democratic debate and freedom of thought. Hatred of people subsumed to a category is irrational. Criticism of government policy, any government policy, is eminently rational. Its contrary is totalitarianism, which is where Israel is heading.

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How can one take seriously the opinions of anyone who can write "All people on the left are anti-Semitic, whether they know it or not."
I'm not sure if the error or the patronising smug superiority is worse!

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I think you've misunderstood Frank's posting. If I understand it correctly, he was explaining the anti-Zionism = anti-semitism position and showing how absurd it is. In short, if you're anti-Zionist, you must be anti-semitic. Not knowing you are just proves that you are. He was not arguing that that was the case - as I'm not either :)
Settler colonialism is profoundly wrong and harmful. It doesn't matter how you justify it. Some justify it be referring to their 'God given birthright", others to their innate superiority. It doesn't matter - it's still wrong and needs to be opposed.
The European colonial settlements in America were a disaster for the indigenous people who were living there. The settlements of the European Jews in Israel which led to the Nakba in 1948 and which has continued since is also a disaster and also profoundly wrong. Wrong not because of who is committing the abuses, nor because of who are the victims, but just profoundly wrong. That is why anti-Zionism cannot be conflated with anti-semitism. It is a criticism of the actions and is a criticism of the perpetrators simply because they are the perpetrators of the crime.
As someone of Jewish heritage, criticising Israel and Zionism is not an attack on me. Claiming that the assault on the Palestinian people is being done in my name IS a real and profound insult.

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Yes, you have read the comment by Frank correctly. I first thought that he was advocating these views but then I re-read it carefully and he was explaining them and refuting them. As a Jewish leftist I understand that the blanket dismissal by Zionists of the left is part of their right wing ideology. This is why they are supportive of Trump and of right wing parties in Europe.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.