Blurring of Distinction between Zionism and Judaism Fuelled by Israeli Actions

Cape Times (South Africa), February 4, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Blurring of Distinction between Zionism and Judaism Fuelled by Israeli Actions


BYLINE: Martin Jansen and Eddie Cottle

Milton Shain (February 2) deliberately equates the public statements by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatima Hajaig about the power and influence of Jews with the anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages in Europe. This tends to exaggerate the minister's clumsy and politically incorrect references to Jews (as opposed to Zionists), and therefore renders her entire statement "anti-Semitic", deflecting whatever else she had to say.

Shain correctly states that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism cannot be axiomatically equated. But he achieves exactly that through a sleight of hand by claiming that "much anti-Zionist rhetoric ... is riddled with anti-Jewish motifs that go beyond the bounds of normal political conflict".

He then explains the nature of this phenomenon by citing the strongly anti-Semitic views of many Muslim extremists in the Arab world. In doing so, he attempts to neutralise many of us who are opposed to Israel and Zionism, virtually putting us on the back foot in expressing such views, for fear that we, too, might be labelled as racist "anti-Semites".

Moreover, Shain and liberal commentators who have expressed similar distaste for the minister's clumsy statements equate anti-Semitism today, which is born primarily out of Israel's brutal colonial regime in the Middle East, with the anti-Semitism of pre-1945. This position is fundamentally flawed and ahistorical. Anti-Semitism before World War 2 flourished for centuries in most parts of Europe, causing the majority of Jews to be part of a politically oppressed and socially marginalised group and regular victims of prejudice and pogroms.

Because of this, most Jews were part of the lower echelons of European society, as part of the emerging working class and small traders. Large sections of Jewish people were part of emerging radical socialist movements that promised liberation and equality for all.

Since 1945, however, as a consequence of the immense international sympathy and guilt among Europeans due to the Holocaust, the founding of Israel as an ally of United States and British imperialism in the Middle East and the legitimising of Israel, the anti-Zionist movement among Jewish people has weakened.

This leaves many people, especially those severely affected by Israeli domination, with the clear impression that most Jewish people are supporters of the colonial state of Israel.

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