Anti-semitic anti-Zionism

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Anti-semitic anti-Zionism is a phrase and concept used by scholars including Alan Johnson, Werner Bergmann, Kenneth L. Marcus, Simon Schama and David Hirsh to describe what they say is a modern form of antisemitism characterized as a "distinctively left-wing hostility to Jews."


Kenneth L. Marcus' definition

In 2008 civil rights scholar Kenneth L. Marcus, noting that "antiSemitic anti-Zionism" is "quite distinct from legitimate criticizing of Israeli politics," set out "the distinguishing features" of the ideology of antiSemitic anti-Zionism that, were, he thought, "rapidly becoming conventional" among contemporary, left-wing anti-Zionists. These are, the "employment of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, use of double standards, drawing comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, and holding Jews collectively responsible for Israeli actions."[1] He describes antiSemitic anti-Zionism as a 21st century phenomenon that uses "medieval" anti-Semitic tropes including blood libel and the ascription of "demonic" characteristics to Jewish and Israeli leaders.[1]

Werner Bergmann's definition

Writing in the 2009 Handbook of Prejudice, Werner Bergmann defines "anti-Semitic anti-Zionism" as a form of anti-Zionism that utilizes "traditional anti-Semitic thought and stereotypes" to "demonize Israel as the 'enemy of the world;' to "make 'world Jewry,' jointly responsible for Israel's politics'" and to bring "Israel's right to defend itself" into question.[2] The Handbook posits that anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is an outcome of the commitment of the "extreme left" to anti-racism, anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism; as a outcome of the tendency of the extreme left, "Arab Muslims," and "some third-world countries" to see Israel as a "stooge of American imperialism;" and as a means of expiating European guilt for its fascist and/or imperialist past.[2]

Alan Johnson's definition

British-American historian Simon Schama credits British political theorist Alan Johnson with conceptualizing the phenomenon of anti-semitic anti-Zionism.[3] According to Johnson, the phenomenon has three distinguishing characteristics.[4]

First, rejection the idea of a Homeland for the Jewish people and commitment to the "abolition" of Israel and it's replacement by a Palestinian Arab state.[4][5]

Second, demonization of Zionism including the characterization of Jewish nationalism as uniquely racist, and as a form of settler colonialism, use of apartheid, and "the deliberate and systematic Nazification of Israel in street placards depicting Netanyahu as Hitler, in posters equating the IDF and the SS, in cartoons portraying Israelis as Nazis, and even in the language of intellectuals."[4][5]

Third, in a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement working to "exclude one state - and only one state - from the economic, cultural and educational life of humanity."[4][5]

Responses to Johnson's definition

Calling Johnson's definition of the term "accurate," Simon Schama argued that this is not a case of anti-Zionism morphing into anti-Semitism, but, rather, a in which Anti-Semitism causes anti-Zionism.[3][6] He cites Johnson's use of anti-semitic anti-Zionism to describe a tendency to anti-Semitic discourse on the part of the contemporary left in Western countries that, Schama says, "has mutated into a rejection of Israel's right to exist."[3]

Use of term

The phrase has been used as a description of a distinctly left-wing form of antisemitism at least since 1994, when the Runnymede Trust published a report on The Persistence and Dangers of Antisemitism which included a section entitled "Left-wing antisemitism and antisemitic anti-Zionism." The report stated that, "The obsessive anti-Zionism of the far left, as represented by such groups as the Socialist Workers Party and the Revolutionary Communist Group, which invariably denies that Jews have a common culture and a rightto self-determination, may well be said to have an antisemitic effect, even though it is not antisemitic by intention. With the collapse of communism and the widespread disillusionment with socialism, however, the left has ceased to be a significant source of anti-Zionism. Correspondingly, therefore, it is no longer the influential source of antisemitism which it once was. Nevertheless, left-wing antisemitism survives and continues on certain university campuses."[7]

British academic David Hirsh used and discussed the concept of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in 2006,[8] British academic and Solicitor advocate Anthony Julius in 2010,[9] and American journalist Adam Kirsch in 2010.[10]

Olaf Kistenmacher argues that far from being recent, or a post-1967 War phenomenon, German antisemitic anti-Zionism can be traced back to the Weimar Republic era Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD).[11]

German academic Sebastian Voigt discusses the Anti-semitic anti-Zionism of the contemporary German left, in particular, within the leadership and membership of the large, leftist, German political party, Die Linke. According to Voigt, Die Linke's anti-Zionism is a blend of the characterization of Israel as a Western, imperialist intrusion imposed on the indigenous people of the Middle East, and of the secondary antisemitism of post-World War II "German leftists" with their tendency to characterize Palestinians as "the new Jews" while casting Jews and Israelis as Nazis, "Israel as a fascist country and Zionism as a fascist ideology," thereby enabling the "self-deception" that by "demonizing" Israel they become righteous "anti-fascists." According to Voigt, "the many examples of antisemitic anti-Zionism involving politicians of all parties are shocking... but in no other Party is the left's ingrained hatred of Israel as rampant."[12]

Lesley Klaff of Sheffield Hallam University refers to Johnson's use of the term in a 2010 article arguing that anti-Zionism "satisfies the definition and meaning of hate speech", it qualifies as a "protected form of speech" (p. 94) according to the principle of free speech and the laws of the United Kingdom, but that under the separate "speech laws" that apply within British universities, this form of "hate speech against Jews" (p. 98) can be banned as part of the university's responsibility to protect students.[13]

In her 2005 doctoral dissertation, Pentecostals and the new anti-Semitism: Walking in the fruit and fullness of the Spirit for the sake of the Jewish people, (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2005, 284 pages; 3290468; p. 171 ff.), Lois Olena asserts that "anti-Semitic anti-Zionism" is characterized by the conflation of Israeli citizens and Jews, resulting in the inclination of anti-Zionist activists to "target and victimize" Jews worldwide.(Pentecostals and the new anti-Semitism: Walking in the fruit and fullness of the Spirit for the sake of the Jewish people, Olena, Lois, PhD dissertation, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2005, 284 pages; 3290468; p. 171 ff.)

Johnson describes antisemitism as having a long history in leftist discourse,[14] and mentions politician Jenny Tonge, poet Tom Paulin, and historian Ilan Pappé as anti-Semitic anti-Zionists.[4]

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen describes the contemporary left as suffering from an "anti-Zionism derangement syndrome," which he characterizes as ahistorical because Zionism is, in fact, the product of centuries of anti-Semitic "dehumanization of Jews, of which leftist anti-Semitism is part."[5]

LiwerantTemplate:Who and SimanTemplate:Who have alleged that anti-Israel rhetoric in the Mexican press takes on an "antisemitic anti-Zionist" tone.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Marcus, Kenneth (April 2008). "Higher Education, Harrassment, and First Ammendment Opportunism". The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 16 (4): 1025. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pelinka et al, Anton (2009). Handbook of Prejudice. Chapter on Anti-Semitism by Werner Bergmann. Cambria Press. p. 56. ISBN 1604976276. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Schama, Simon (19 February 2016). "The left’s problem with Jews has a long and miserable history". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Johnson, Alan (Fall 2015). "The Left and the Jews: Time for a Rethink". Fathom. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Cohen, Roger (7 March 2016). "An Anti-Semitism of the Left". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  6. "Renowned British Historian: Anti-Semitism Causes Anti-Zionism". The Tower Magazine. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  7. A Very Light Sleeper: The Persistence and Dangers of Antisemitism. Runnymede Commission on Antisemitism; Runnymede Trust. January 1994. p. 47. ISBN 0-902397-92-3. 
  8. Hirsh, David (30 November 2006). "Openly Embracing Prejudice". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  9. Julius, Anthony (2010). Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England. Oxford University Press. p. 476. ISBN 0-19-929705-3. 
  10. Kirsch, Adam (25 May 2010). "Albion's Shame". Tablet. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  11. Kistenmacher, Olaf (September 2006). "From ‘Jewish Capital’ to the ‘Jewish-Fascist Legion in Jerusalem’: The Development of Antizionism in the German Communist Party (KPD) in the Weimar Republic, 1925-1933 – Olaf Kistenmacher". Engage Journal (3). Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  12. Voigt, Sebastian (2013). Chapter: Antisemitic Anti-Zionism within the German Left - Die Linke, in Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity, ed. Charles Asher Small. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 335. ISBN 90-04-26556-2. 
  13. Klaff, Lesley. 2010. “Anti-Zionist Expression on the UK Campus: Free Speech or Hate Speech?”. Jewish Political Studies Review 22 (3/4). Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: 87–109.
  14. Johnson, Alan (10 September 2015). "Antisemitic anti-Zionism and the Left". the JC. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  15. Baum, et al (2016). Antisemitism in North America: New World, Old Hate. Brill. p. 156. ISBN 90-04-30714-1.