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Setting the Record Straight on Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism and the Important Difference Between the Two

The ruling class media and mainstream political spokespeople consistently conflate the legitimate and correct opposition to the state of Israel and the ideology of Zionism with anti-Semitism and hatred of Jewish people. At the same time, there is a rising tide worldwide of anti-Semitism—also strongly backed by sections of the ruling classes—which is a danger in its own right and perniciously influences the thinking of masses of people.

To set the record straight on this:

1) The state of Israel was founded by European Jews who migrated to the Middle East and settled on land that had been historically and continuously occupied by another people, the Palestinians. This movement was from the beginning conceived of and openly advertised by its main founder as a colonial project. At least half a million Palestinians were driven out of their land in a war of ethnic cleansing that included a substantial number of significant massacres. The new Israeli state received substantial support from various great powers, both in the period leading up to its founding and subsequently, and today occupies the role of the critical regional enforcer for U.S. imperialist interests. It is on this basis that people and institutions—including REVCOM—maintain that Israel is an illegitimate settler state. This view is not only utterly legitimate, it is objectively true and irrefutable. Attempts to label such a view as anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, etc. and to suppress those who adhere to it are cowardly and dangerous; it is the use of power to suppress truth and forbid debate over that truth. Such attempts must be opposed, and all those who come under fire for either adhering to that view or supporting the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel1 (a movement which actually stops short of that view) should be supported.

2) Anti-Semitism—views that in one way or another demonize and dehumanize the Jewish people as a people—has absolutely no truth or validity, should not be “up for debate,” and must be exposed for the reactionary poison that it is. Such views have led to or justified genocidal acts for several thousand years, including but not limited to the Nazi murder of six million Jewish people, and until very recently were “stock in trade” of most European ruling-class institutions, including the Catholic Church. Those who today proffer such views—from Alex Jones2 to Louis Farrakhan to David Icke to ISIS, etc.—generally do so as part of a profoundly reactionary and often straight-up fascist discourse and program, and those views and programs must also be firmly opposed. As for oppressed people who fall for the lie that “the Jews” were responsible for the slave trade or today “control everything” behind the scenes: you are being played for fools and suckers, while the real enemy—the capitalist-imperialist system—is let off the hook.

For background on the nature and role of Israel see the special Revolution/ issue: The Case of Israel: Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?

Also available as Pamphlet (PDF)   



1. The mainstream of the boycott, divestment, sanction (BDS) movement does not uphold the position that the state of Israel as a whole is illegitimate, but holds that the Israeli “settlements” (armed outposts) in the West Bank and Jerusalem—the territories occupied by Israel after a further war of expansion in 1967—are illegitimate. Even this is too much, however, for the imperialists and the supporters of Israel. [back]

2. It must also be noted that anti-Semitic views, especially in code words and “dog whistles,” have been part of Donald Trump’s approach for a long time—including his infamous characterization that there were “good people” on the side of the neo-Nazis and KKK attack dogs in Charlottesville who were, among other things, chanting openly anti-Semitic slogans. [back]

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