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Anti-Zionism is anti-racism

21 August 2007

A staff member of the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group whose aim is to stop defamation of the Jewish people, has fired a staff member for failing to deny genocide.

In discussions with Zionists (the Jewish nationalists rather than the Zionist Christians) I have often encountered the phase “moral equivalence”, which is used to defend the idea that Jewish lives are more valuable than those of anyone else, and to justify such acts as Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in July-August 2006. The argument is usually that Jews murdering Gentiles is not morally equivalent to Gentiles murdering Jews (or, as in the case of the denial of the Armenian Holocaust, Gentiles murdering Gentiles).

I have been told that “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism”, and have been referred to (and sometimes been sent copies of) a speech by Martin Luther King in support of this assertion.

But as a South African I heard that arrgument ad nauseam from apologists for apartheid. To be anti-apartheid, we were told, was to be anti-Afrikaner, to be anti-South African, to be unpatriotic, to be a traitor, to support terrorism. Afrikaners who opposed apartheid, like Beyers Naude, were accused of being volksveraaiers, traitors to volk en vaderland, and in a similar way, Jews who oppose Zionism are accused by Zionists of being “self-hating Jews”.

The notion, propagated by the Anti-Defamation League, that genocide of Jews is bad, but that genocide of Armenians is not so bad, not “morally equivalent” to the genocide of Jews, is racism, pure and simple.

I do not agree with the contention that Zionism is racism. Zionism was one of many nationalist movements that arose in Central and Eastern Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, based on romantic notions of language and volk. Afrikaner nationalism shared some of that heritage, linked to the thought of Herder and Fichte. Balkan nationalisms come from the same stable; which fought against multinational empires like the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, and were revived in the wars of the Yugoslav succession in the 1990s. Such nationalism can lead to racism, manifested in ethnic cleansing, but they are not necessarily intrisically racist.

So while I believe that the slogans “Zionism is racism” and “AntiZionism is anti-Semitism” are wrong, I think that the recent behaviour of the Anti-Defamation League shows that Anti-Zionism can indeed be anti-racism.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Macrina permalink
    23 August 2007 5:39 am

    Good post. As a South African living in Europe I’m inclined to think that such things are much more obvious to South Africans than to Europeans!

    In his book Lost Icons Rowan Williams has some perceptive comments on the Zionist use of the Holocaust to effectively end any discussion of the moreality of Israel’s actions. By placing these events “outside history”, outside any normal discourse and absolutely incomparable with other atrocities, they create a situation in which dealing with the past – remorse, confession, forgiveness – becomes impossible and in which that past continues to be used as a weapon for further atrocities.

  2. 8 September 2007 8:16 am

    Abe Foxman (the ADL chairman) is a disgrace. But you should see the heat he was getting for failing to acknowledge Armenian Genocide of 1915. People who are very much pro-Zionist were and still are calling for his firing. That, by the way, includes me.

  3. 8 September 2007 8:21 am

    One more thing:
    When people accuse you of moral equivalence, they don’t mean that Jewish lives are more valuable than other lives. They simply draw a distinction between ACCIDENTALLY killing civilians by IDF and other Western military forces on one hand, and DELIBERATE TARGETING of civilians by Hamas and Hezbollah on another hand. How can you not see the difference is beyond me.

  4. 8 September 2007 9:04 am


    Sorry, my bad. I didn’t realise that Israel had accidentally bombed Lebanon for several weeks last year.

  5. 9 September 2007 1:17 am

    They did not bomb CIVILIANS IN LEBANON. They bomb HEZBOLLAH IN LEBANON. That is quite different from bombing buses, pizza parlors and discos, as Hamas does, or launching rockets at population centers, as Hezbollah did last summer.

  6. 9 September 2007 6:29 am

    They did not bomb civilians in Lebanon


    That’s, quite simply, a lie.

    118 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 952 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000. (View Source) Now I’m not sure how many Israeli children have been killed by Lebanese, but a lot of Lebanese children have been killed by Israelis.

    But the “moral equivalence” argument is racist to its core, because it complains about the idea that killing 952 is morally equivalent to killing 118. Their argument is that killing 118 is worse than killing 952. And that is racism, whichever way you look at it.

  7. Adam permalink
    13 November 2007 6:53 pm

    Eric, I wish I could assume you’re just ignorant. Unfortunately for you, some of us know about the Jewish “war of deception”, called for by your rabbis. You’re not ignorant. You’re much, much worse.

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