I know the arguments: The U.S. aid package implicates taxpayers in Israeli policy, the Holy Land is dear to three major religions. But they don’t account for the zeal with which progressives embrace anti-Zionism, or demonize the Israelis while lionizing a corrupt Palestinian leadership and their regressive neighbors, or hold Jewish peers accountable for Israel’s perceived crimes. Nor do those arguments account for the ignorance of portraying Israel as a bastion of white, European colonialism, ignoring Israel’s Mizrachi majority, erasing historical Jewish claims to the land, and denying the complex nature of Israel’s founding.
Fair-minded critics of Israel believe Palestinians suffer under Israeli control, but believe in two states that allow both peoples self-determination. Possibly, they believe in one state that guarantees both peoples their basic democratic rights. What they don’t insist on is the notion that Israel is illegitimate from its birth, and its people are interlopers in their historic homeland.
I worry that insisting that anti-Zionism always equals anti-Semitism hobbles our ability to fight other, more immediate forms of Jew hatred. We also risk being seen as a community that, by supporting campus and statehouse speech codes, wants to restrict free speech.
But we can’t ignore the effect of anti-Zionism and the drumbeat of scorn that has nothing to do with a just solution for all parties in the Middle East.