How Today's Anti-Zonism Continues the Old Antisemitism

By Green, Elliot A. | Midstream, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

How Today's Anti-Zonism Continues the Old Antisemitism


Green, Elliot A., Midstream


Today's anti-Zionists like to claim that their stance is something new, something unrelated to the old antisemitism which they typically pretend to reject. They usually claim that they oppose Israel because of its supposed cruel treatment of those Arabs now fashionably called "Palestinians" or of its colonizing Arab land (or "Palestinian land") or, even deeper into fantasy, of being an "apartheid" state. In other words, it is Israel's conduct that makes them anti-Zionist.

One problem with these claims is that there never was a "Palestinian people" in all history, although there always was a population of some size or other, however small it may have been, in the land that Arabs and their partisans now typically call "Palestine." Indeed, the notion of a "Palestinian people" is a new one and only came into widespread use in the 1960s, especially after the Six-Day War.

Leaving aside the historicity of a "Palestinian people," there are at least three major ways in which anti-Zionism today--as a set of notions or themes--continues the legacy of the old antisemitism:

A. The Myth of Jewish evil, Jewish original sin, and Zionism or Israel's original sin.

B. The Alien nature of the Jews, alien wherever they are.

C. Jewish domination whether of society in one country or of the world.

A. THE BELIEF IN INHERENT, IRREMEDIABLE JEWISH EVIL AND ORIGINAL SIN & ISRAEL'S ORIGINAL SIN

If we focus on European, Western that is, Christian antisemitism, setting aside Arab and Muslim Judeophobia, we see that the Jews' original sin is their alleged causing of the crucifixion of Jesus, who is typically depicted as ever innocent and innocuous, harmless, meaning to bring only good to the world. The Four Gospels, on the whole and as a whole, despite various contradictions and discrepancies, show that ancient Jews brought about the Roman crucifixion of Jesus. Yet Joel Carmichael (former editor of Midstream) pointed out that many fragments of a different narrative, a different characterization of Jesus, are still scattered throughout the Four Gospels. (1) Jesus in one place is quoted saying: "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39 NIV). However, in another place he tells his audience: "I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). Moreover, one of his followers is described as a Zealot (Matt. 10:4), another is called Rock (Simon called Peter = Rock; Matt. 10:4), two others are the Boanerges brothers, described as "Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17; perhaps from the Hebrew Bney Ra'ash). Further, we read that he overturned moneychangers' tables. So much for the pacifistic Jesus. Nevertheless, Christian tradition stresses the pacifistic, innocent and innocuous Jesus. That characterization of Jesus was hegemonic over the centuries. And it is the view of Jesus as a mild innocent that magnifies the horror of the Jews' allegedly urging the Romans to crucify him.

Jewish "original sin" naturally gives rise to a belief in inherent Jewish evil. Hyam Maccoby and Joshua Trachtenberg both analyzed "the myth of Jewish evil." Maccoby considered this myth in early Christianity in a number of books and articles; Trachtenberg took up the medieval stereotypes still prevalent in the 20th century, in his The Devil and the Jays (1943).

It may not be necessary to point out, but hatred of Jews based on the crucifixion theme has lasted well into modern times. Consider some of the resistance to Pope John XXIII's proposed changes to Catholic dogma on the Jews at the Vatican II Conference, 1962-1965. Here is an earlier expression of this mood from the French Catholic La Croix, specifically directed against emancipating the Jews:

To admit the Jews into Christian society is like declaring that the deicide, for which they bear a perpetual curse, no longer has to do with our generation. But if we are Christians, they remain cursed. …

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