User:-- April~metawiki/Anti-Semitism vs Anti-Zionism

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In an effort to move things off of Wikipedia and onto meta where they belong, I'm directing the argument from w:Talk:Anti-Semitism/archive2 and now w:Talk:Anti-Semitism here, and hoping against hope the ranting can follow thisaway.

To start things off, I'll say that my personal belief is that Zionism is a political movement, and Semitism is an ethnicity. Ergo, anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. However, I don't think it's healthy to hate anyone, even for their political views, however repugnant they may be to one. Hate the views, not the people holding them, says I. user:-- April

April, don't you realize that this means that anti-Semitism is Ok, as long as one hates the ideas held by Jews, instead of the Jews themselves? Look, in the real world there are no such thing as "views" in of themselves: the only thing that physically exists are human beings, who themselves have views. Why would anyone love, or hate, another person? Because of what they are physically? Because of their hair color, eye color, skin color, or size? No, people are only loved (or hated) for who and what they actually are; and what they are is the sum of their views and practices. When you say that you hate the views of almost every Jew in the world, this means that you hate the Jews, period. I beg of you to reconsider your apparently proclaimed hatred of almost all Jews (or in your teminology, the beliefs and practice of almost all Jews, which is functionally the same). 12.78.221.xxx

Does this mean that in order to avoid hatred, then people can never disagree? Not, not at all. The solution is to separate disagreement from hatred. A person can disagree with someone else's views (i.e. disagree with that person himself) without hating that person. You may think that someone is very wrong about a particular religious or political issue - and there is no problem in that. Human beings are entitled to disagree. In fact, it is only healthy disagreement that leads to progress. But if one holds the position that it is allright to hate views, then they would effectively hate the people holding such views. Knowing where hating "views" often leads to among human beings, I affirm that this stance would not only be wrong, it would be dangerous. Is this not clear? 12.78.221.xxx

Also, "Semitism" is not an ethnicity. In fact, there is no such word as "semitism", and I can't begin to imagine what it would mean. There certianly is no such thing as a "semitic" people or ethnic group. The adjective 'semitic' refers to a linguistic group, and that's all. When you say that someone isn't an anti-Semite, your claim means nothing because its clear that you don't know what the word means; I don't mean this to disparage you, but I mean it in the literal sense. You literally are using the word in the wrong way. The word "anti-Semitism" was coined in the 1870s to mean the hatred of Jewish people, Jewish views, Jewish philosophy, etc. So when someone admits to hating Jewish views, that is the definition of anti-Semitism. Now do you understand why Jewish people are so hurt by what they see here on Wikipedia? 12.78.221.xxx

Zionism is not, and is not only, "a philosophy of Jews." It is a philosophy of some Jews and some Christians (as RK points out). Likewise, there are some Jews, some Christians, and some None of the Abovians who are anti-Zionism.
Now, on disagreeing without hating: there, I agree, and I said as much at the top of the page. I don't hate Zionists; I don't even hate Republicans... (that was a joke, a JOKE! for all you Elephants out there). I don't even hate most philosophies, though I find some exceedingly repugnant. (Holocaust revisionism, for example. I hate that, I do admit, I don't just "disagree" with it. It disgusts me.) But at some point, as with revisionism, a certain level of emotional disgust comes in at the very concept; and imperialism tends to bring that out in me. Since I see most forms of Zionism (to which I've been exposed) as imperialistic... you can see why I dislike the philosophy.
I do not hate "the views of almost all Jews in the world." Sorry, but you can't even get most people in a group that large to agree what color the sky is. That's why there are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform versions of the jewish religion, not to mention the Jewish atheists and other smaller groups. At least 10 percent of Israeli Jews... let me repeat that... of Israeli Jews... are anti-Zionist. That's not counting Jews elsewhere in the world who may or may not support Zionism. Sorry. Once you start calling that many Jewish people (and many quite proud, thank you, of their Jewish heritage) anti-Semetic, the whole thing dissolves into the absurd.
I dislike and disagree with a political movement, Zionism, which claims to represent the Jews of the world, some of whom disagree that they are so represented. That is all I do, and it is not anti-Semitism. And I won't even call you an anti-Irish/Italianist for disagreeing with me. -- April

Rehashing some previous text:

(-- April said, in response to RK challenge to - paraphrased - name any atrocity from Zionist to anti-Zionist Israeli or vice versa): However, since you insist, and since I cynically believe you can find examples of almost anyone doing almost anything to anyone else... I did a web search. For a beginning, see this link: http://www.io.com/~jewishwb/iris/archives/551.html ... "With my own eyes, I wept. I wept that a Jewish policeman would attack a Jewish child. I wept that a Jewish government would use violence against Jewish citizens." ... This was not chosen because it's the best source, but because it was the first allegation I found. Thirty-second search. Please don't make me search for more and better sources - I will almost certainly find 'em, people being people the world over, and this sort of thing depresses me.) Note that I do not have the slightest idea whether this is a true or a false allegation. It is an allegation, ergo such allegations exist, ergo I deplore the actions cited in the allegation if in fact those actions happened as described. So am I anti-Semetic for condemning the hypotheitical actions of a hypothetical Jewish policeman against a hypothetical Jewish child? I think not.

First off, I udnerstand that what you are proposing is an example. But my response is this - of course a person would be an anti-Semite if they did such a heinous thing. Only a person filled with hatred towards Jews would dig for unsubstantiated rumors slander about Jews, and then justify condemning Jews (qua Jews) in public for said totally unfounded rumor. RK
With respect to the first question, I think RK is again misusing the term "anti-Semite", this time to mean "any action against a Jew". The phrase "anti-Semite" involves actions against Jews as a people, not just any actions against a person who happens to be Jewish. Otherwise, the term reduces to an absurdity. Is every person who insults or attacks me an anti-Irish/Italian racist? Obviously not.
Now, on the second sentence, that's insulting, particularly since (a) RK challenged me to substantiate something that I'd plucked from air as an example, and (b) I did so via a 30-second web search. That's hardly "digging ... for rumors". If I'd wanted to make a Federal case of it, I'd've gone to the known anti-Zionist Israeli groups (Women in Black, for instance) and gotten some nice well-documented cases. (I've run across the allegations in the New York Times on occasion, which is how I know there are some.) Does that mean I am "filled with hatred toward Jews"? Maybe I happen to be filled with love for the Women in Black, who also happen to be Jews! (Actually, I am kind of a fan, but that's beside the point.) I have never condemned Jews, and I challenge RK to show where I have. I have condemned policies of Israel. Policies are not people. I have criticized the philosophy of Zionism. Philosophies are not people - and criticism is not hate.
Further, let us for the sake of argument say that the story was true. Only an anti-Semite would use the religion of a criminal to attack Jews as a people. When a (Catholic Christian) policeman was recently arrested in my own state for unnecessary violence against a (presumable Christian) citizen, did I go to the Wikipedia entry on Christianity and use this as an example of a legitimate NPOV opinion against Christians? Of course not. Did anyone else? No. Only a bigoted Christian-hater would do such a thing. So what worries me is that you propose that such actions are acceptable towards Jews, yet it is obvious that no one here would allow such an unfair action to be used on Wikipedia to slander Christians, Muslims, atheists or Hindus. This in of itself is the problem. What about this is so confusing? RK
I have not attacked Jews as a people, therefore your argument evaporates. I have not used it as an example of opinion against Jews. I used it as - as you requested - an example of conflict between anti-Zionist Israelis and Zionist Israelis - both Jews, who happen to be on different sides of a political movement. That is all. I do not use the Catholic priest scandals to say that Catholics are bad (for one thing, my grandmother would kill me) or that priests are bad. I use it to say pedophilia is bad. In the case cited above, I would say "police brutality is bad", whether it happens in the US, Israel, Egypt, or Outer West Neverwhere. I only picked ut up to dispell the idea that "anti-Neverwhere-Imperialism" equates with "anti-Neverwhoism".
Face it, RK. It's possible for someone to dislike the US government's policies without hating WASPs. I do. It's possible to hate Egypt's government's policies without hatinig Arabs. I do. It's possible to hate Israel's government's policies without hating Jews. I do. I don't like a lot of government policies. That does not make me a racist. It makes me an activist. Trying to smear my activism with the wholly unearned label of racism does not, I believe, make me or my activism look bad to any rational person. I don't believe it casts your own stance in a very good light, but I also believe that you are so emotionally involved with the subject that you're not seeing the difference clearly, clear though I try to make them. That is, that this is not malice on your part, but rather sheer anger - understandable, given the history of this conflict, which has generated overwhelming anger in many parties. I hope you'll be able to overcome that to read my writing carefully, and that I will be able to express myself with sufficient clarity to show why I say: I am not anti-Semetic, I do not support or condone anti-Semitism, and that my position as an activist is perfectly congruent with those facts. -- April

(SLRubenstein made some excellent points "bridging the gap" between the two sides, here reproduced in hopes of encouraging understanding and amity on all sides! -- April)

The following remarks are in response to the discussion now on Archive2, but I offer them in the hopes of clarifying some of the terms of the discussion. 1) For most Jews and most Zionists, "Zionism" means nothing more than the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland.


a) It does not necessarily mean a committment to the state of Israel, although I think in effect for almost all Jews and virtually all Zionists, it does mean a committment to a Jewish State.

b) There has been much debate among Zionists as to what the character of that state should be. For some (I think a small minority) it might be something approaching a theocracy. For others, it might be a modern liberal democratic state in which non-Jews are citizens who enjoy the full protection of the law and equal rights with all other (e.g. Jewish) citizens (in other words, something like the kind of state GrahamN has advocated -- yes, some Zionists advocate the same thing as Zionists).

i) what would be important for them (advocates of a liberal state) is first that this state would still guarantee Jews protection from anti-semitism that has often been missing in other modern liberal democratic societies like France (Herzl founded modern Zionism in response to the Dreyfus case; this was the original paradigmatic example of anti-semitism that motivated Zionism, not the Holocaust), and

ii) that this country would be a center of Jewish culture -- just as France is a center for the creation of French literature (even though people who speak read and write other languages should be able to live in France and enjoy the full rights of citizens), for example 2) A person can be a Zionist and be opposed to the occupation of the West Bank, the building of settlements in the occupied territories, the often arbitrary seizure of Arab land, the denial of Arab citizens of Israel of full legal rights, and so on. Indeed, there have been many Zionists who have opposed these Israeli policies. Conversely, one can be utterly opposed to these policies and not be anti-Zionist. I for example am ashamed of the history of slavery and genocide against Indians in the US, and plenty of other things my government has done that would depress me too much to list right now. But I am not opposed to the existence of "America." I also know that although America does not define itself as a national "homeland" (most settler-states do not), "America" inevitably has a political culture that is exclusionary (meaning, to get by in America you at least have to accept not only the legitimacy of the Constitution and the government, but certain legal principals and values that are by no means universal. Also, it really helps if you speak English). Still and all, I love my country.

3) Most Jews really do see anti-Zionism as a form of racism.


a) in part because it would deny Jews something that many othe cultures have (sovereignty), or something that a lot of people belive other cultures (the Kurds, the Palestinians) should have.

b) in part because the land of Israel has been of profound importance (emotional and spiritual, not just material and political) for ALL Jews for over two-thousand years.

c) in part because many people who are anti-Zionists in addition to their anti-zionism express anti-semetic statements.

(and on another's comment, equating Zionism to Naziism:) ...if you sincerely believe you are not an anti-semite, as a Jew I ask you to please think for just a moment how deliberately and personally hurtful a comment equating Zionism and Naziism is. Put aside your cold logic for just a minute and try to be a sensitive human being. It is not just a matter of (form of racism a) is similar to (form of racism b) -- these words do not mean the same things to all people; they have very potent meanings for Jews and if you ignore that, it seems like you are simply trying to be as hurtful as possible.

Criticize the policies of the Israeli government all you want -- many Jewish Israelis and non Israeli Jews will agree with you.

Criticize "Zionism" if you are still opposed to any form of nationalism -- I will disagree with you, and may even think you naive, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt when you say you are not an anti-semite.

But equate Zionism with Naziism and you are employing hate speech.

(End excerpt of SLR comments.)


In the real world there are no such thing as "views" in of themselves: the only thing that physically exists are human beings, who themselves have views. Why would anyone love, or hate, another person? Because of what they are physically? Because of their hair color, eye color, skin color, or size? No, people are only loved (or hated) for who and what they actually are; and what they are is the sum of their views and practices. When you say that you hate the views of almost every Jew in the world, this means that you hate the Jews, period. I beg of you to reconsider your apparently proclaimed hatred of almost all Jews (or in your teminology, the beliefs and practice of almost all Jews, which is functionally the same). RK

Does this mean that in order to avoid hatred, then people can never disagree? Not, not at all. The solution is to separate disagreement from hatred. A person can disagree with someone else's views (i.e. disagree with that person himself) without hating that person. You may think that someone is very wrong about a particular religious or political issue - and there is no problem in that. Human beings are entitled to disagree. In fact, it is only healthy disagreement that leads to progress. But if one holds the position that it is allright to hate views, then they would effectively hate the people holding such views. Knowing where hating "views" often leads to among human beings, I affirm that this stance would not only be wrong, it would be dangerous. RK

Also, "Semitism" is not an ethnicity. In fact, there is no such word as "semitism", and I can't begin to imagine what it would mean. There certainly is no such thing as a "semitic" people or ethnic group. The adjective 'semitic' refers to a linguistic group, and that's all. When you say that someone isn't an anti-Semite, your claim means nothing because its clear that you don't know what the word means; I don't mean this to disparage you, but I mean it in the literal sense. You literally are using the word in the wrong way. The word "anti-Semitism" was coined in the 1870s to mean the hatred of Jewish people, Jewish views, Jewish philosophy, etc. So when someone admits to hating Jewish views, that is the definition of anti-Semitism. Now do you understand why so many Jewish people are so hurt by what they see here on Wikipedia? RK

  • Response at meta link Anti-Semitism vs Anti-Zionism. -- April

While respecting April's desire that we should desist from this argument I will resopnd here, and offer a partial apology.
Firstly, RK, I did not say anybody was evil, as you well know. I used the word rhetorically. I am an atheist. I don't believe in evil. People do bad things, usually for reasons they believe to be good. And yes I hate racism and I hate all racist ideologies, including Zionism. (Can you honestly say that you don?t ??hate?? Nazism? I know I sure do.) But maybe I was getting overexcited when I said I hate Zionists. I hate the ideology they subscribe to, but I suppose I don't hate them as individuals. They do terrible things for reasons they honestly believe to be good. I?m sorry I said I hated Zionists. That was wrong. Now, RK, it is deeply offensive to a scrupulously anti-racist, vegetarian pacifist like me to be called the names you have been calling me, and I won't sit by passively and allow your accusations to go unchallenged. I am not and anti-Semite. I am not violent. Let's try to patch this thing up. If you apologise to me for your insults and stop repeating them, I will apologise to you for the offence I have evidently caused to you. Then perhaps we can get on and discuss the issues that divide us, with the goal of constructing a genuinely neutral article. Now it is nearly 2:30 in the morning here, so I must go to bed. GrahamN 18:11 Sep 4, 2002 (PDT)

I am not sure whether GrahamN is anti-Semetic or not; racism takes many forms, some of which are unconscious or unintentional (in other words, I believe GrahamN's sincerity when he denies being an anti-semite or racist, but that does not mean that the things he says do not reflect anti-semetic assumptions or are hurtful -- I am making a general point that for as many people who are falsely accused of being racist, their are many well-intentioned people who do not realize how others may see them). I do, however, think that he has failed to make some important distinctions, and is a little confused over the relationship between Zionism and Jews/Judaism. I think --April may be too but I admit I did not read her remarks as closely as I should have. The following remarks are in response to the discussion now on Archive2, but I offer them in the hopes of clarifying some of the terms of the discussion.

1) For most Jews and most Zionists, "Zionism" means nothing more than the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland.

a) It does not necessarily mean a committment to the state of Israel, although I think in effect for almost all Jews and virtually all Zionists, it does mean a committment to a Jewish State.
b) There has been much debate among Zionists as to what the character of that state should be. For some (I think a small minority) it might be something approaching a theocracy. For others, it might be a modern liberal democratic state in which non-Jews are citizens who enjoy the full protection of the law and equal rights with all other (e.g. Jewish) citizens (in other words, something like the kind of state GrahamN has advocated -- yes, some Zionists advocate the same thing as Zionists).
i) what would be important for them (advocates of a liberal state) is first that this state would still guarantee Jews protection from anti-semitism that has often been missing in other modern liberal democratic societies like France (Herzl founded modern Zionism in response to the Dreyfus case; this was the original paradigmatic example of anti-semitism that motivated Zionism, not the Holocaust), and
ii) that this country would be a center of Jewish culture -- just as France is a center for the creation of French literature (even though people who speak read and write other languages should be able to live in France and enjoy the full rights of citizens), for example

2) A person can be a Zionist and be opposed to the occupation of the West Bank, the building of settlements in the occupied territories, the often arbitrary seizure of Arab land, the denial of Arab citizens of Israel of full legal rights, and so on. Indeed, there have been many Zionists who have opposed these Israeli policies. Conversely, one can be utterly opposed to these policies and not be anti-Zionist. I for example am ashamed of the history of slavery and genocide against Indians in the US, and plenty of other things my government has done that would depress me too much to list right now. But I am not opposed to the existence of "America." I also know that although America does not define itself as a national "homeland" (most settler-states do not), "America" inevitably has a political culture that is exclusionary (meaning, to get by in America you at least have to accept not only the legitimacy of the Constitution and the government, but certain legal principals and values that are by no means universal. Also, it really helps if you speak English). Still and all, I love my country.

3) Most Jews really do see anti-Zionism as a form of racism.

a) in part because it would deny Jews something that many othe cultures have (sovereignty), or something that a lot of people belive other cultures (the Kurds, the Palestinians) should have.
b) in part because the land of Israel has been of profound importance (emotional and spiritual, not just material and political) for ALL Jews for over two-thousand years.
c) in part because many people who are anti-Zionists in addition to their anti-zionism express anti-semetic statements.

Now, a note for GrahamN: if you sincerely believe you are not an anti-semite, as a Jew I ask you to please think for just a moment how deliberately and personally hurtful a comment equating Zionism and Naziism is. Put aside your cold logic for just a minute and try to be a sensitive human being. It is not just a matter of (form of racism a) is similar to (form of racism b) -- these words do not mean the same things to all people; they have very potent meanings for Jews and if you ignore that, it seems like you are simply trying to be as hurtful as possible.

Criticize the policies of the Israeli government all you want -- many Jewish Israelis and non Israeli Jews will agree with you.

Criticize "Zionism" if you are still opposed to any form of nationalism -- I will disagree with you, and may even think you naive, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt when you say you are not an anti-semite.

But equate Zionism with Naziism and you are employing hate speech.

I myself struggle with racism and sexism, and I am lucky to have friends (women and members of minority groups) who know that I acted out of ignorance or carelessness. I am glad that they told me how hurtful I was being to a group of people I claimed not to want to hurt. I hope you can accept what I have written in the same spirit. GrahamN, I do appreciate the distinction you make above between hating Zionism and hating Zionists; I really appreciate it and the accompanying apology. That is the reason I hope you will accept what I have just written as I intended it. Slrubenstein

This seems to be an attempt to be a calming influence, but I'm afraid you have just made things worse by accusing me of equating Zionism with Nazism. I did no such thing, as you know.
No, I do not really think you believe Zionism and Naziism are the same, and I apologize for characterizing your comments too crudely. My intention was not to accuse you of "equating" Zionism and Naziism," and I am sorry I used that word. What I intended to do was remark on the way that you used "Naziism" in an analogy to make a point about your position concerning Zionism -- and I am trying to explain to you why Jews would find this hurtful, even if that was not your conscious intention.

RK said that one shouldn't hate an idea. I was simply pointing out what nonsense that was. And I am certain that you realise that that is what I meant. You were deliberately twisting my words.

No. If I misunderstood you, or misrepresented you, I apologize. I stick by my main point, though, which is that when talking to Jews about any particular Jewish belief or practice, including Zionism, a comparison with or analogy to Naziis will be especially hurtful.

And now you are saying I can be an anti-Semite even though I don't hate Jews, because some absurdly hyper-sensitive souls may think that I do!

No, I am saying that people who do not consider themselves racist (or sexist) often think, speak, and act in unconsciously racist (or sexist) ways. This is a simple but important point. If the whole "anti-semitism" context is too personal to you for you to get the point, I suggest you look at bel hooks' Feminist Theory -- the first chapter or two talks about racism in the feminist movement and provides a great example of how ideologies of domination such as racism and sexism, being cultural practices and not merely personal vices, often operate in unintended or unacknowledged ways.

Well if there really are such people, which I doubt, then that is entirely their problem, not mine. GrahamN 09:18 Sep 5, 2002 (PDT)

of course, when you hurt someone it is only the problem of the person you hurt. Unless you wish to be a non-hurtful person, in which case you make it your problem. Slrubenstein

Apologies to April for replying here - but I can't see any way to "Watch" the meta-page, and so I would see changes even more seldom than I see changes to this page. Anyway, if I may copy-and-paste a statement from the Talk:Anti-Semitism/archive2 page, so that I can respond to Sirubenstein properly: Jacob

Hmmmm - I'm not talking about "racism" as such, but about the equation of ethnicity with nationality - and stating that denying that equation in general does not equate to anti-semitism when applying that principle to Israel. Jacob

I think that this more concise presentation of your view is reasonable, except you must explain that by "nationality" you mean solely in the sense of citizenship, because really many people do not mean it that way. Nevertheless, your view raises certain questions. On this basis, would you deny the Palestinians a state "of their own?" (I realize that we would still have to argue about whether Arab citizens of Israel are equal under the law, whether Palestinians living in Israel could enjoy all the rights of citizenship.) Were you opposed to the division of Czechoslovakia? Are you opposed to French law, whereby people born in France (even to parents who were born in France) may not be French citizens? Are you opposed to Germany's law of return? Are you equally a critic of the lack of democracy in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia? Do you believe that those four countries should (even as a condition for membership in the UN) adopt modern liberal constitutions (whereby anyone can be a citizen and all citizens are equal before the law; there is a strict separation of church and state; and strong laws against discrimination of minority ethnic groups)? I ask these questions in part out of sincere curiosity -- but also to suggest why many Zionists see a double-standard in current political opinion. Slrubenstein
The general usage, and primary meaning, of "nationality" is the sense I gave, rather than ethnicity (the OED gives the primary meaning of "Nation" as "a community of people of mainly common descent, history, language, etc., forming a state or inhabiting a territory", for instance [my emphasis]). It is for this reason that we talk of the "nationalist aspirations" of, eg, Basques, Palestinians, Czechs, etc, rather than generally referring to groups of ethnically-related people as "nations".
As to the examples you give - with respect, each is entirely irrelevant. Criticism of Israel's right of return law would necessitate criticism of the same laws in other countries (including Germany), and I am critical of all such bizarre legislation. Democratic rule, or the lack of it, in various countries is also not material to the "is anti-Zionism the same as anti-Semitism?" argument - it's not clear to me why you would think it should be relevant.
There is a basic, fundamental difference between Zionism as formulated and other forms of nationalistic aspiration (as, for example, in the former Czechoslovakia), and that was touched upon in your 1(a) above. if Zionism were formulated as an aspiration for a Jewish homeland in an uninhabited area then I would raise no objection to it. However, it is not: Zionism, as formulated and as actually put into practice, takes as a pre-condition for its success the removal of a native people from the land which they already inhabited and replacing them with a different group of people, purely on the basis of their ethnicity.
It is for that reason that I consider Zionism to be racist, in precisely the same way in which I considered the lebensraum and apartheid policies to be racist.
As for the argument that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Zionists and therefore to be anti-Zionist means being anti-Jewish (i.e. anti-Semitic), I consider that argument to be absurd - if the overwhelming majority of Japanese were in favour of invading Vietnam and I was against invading Vietnam, would that make me anti-Japanese? Of course not - it would simply make me against that policy regardless of who is in favour of it. To draw a more striking hypothetical: Consider a situation where the majority of Jews decided to take an anti-Zionist stance (as was the case in the late 19th century). According to the "majority" argument promulgated by RK, I would suddenly switch from being "anti-Semitic" to being supportive of Jews ("pro-Semitic"?) without changing my position in the slightest. Jacob


You misunderstand or mischaracterize my "argument" when you write,

As for the argument that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Zionists and therefore to be anti-Zionist means being anti-Jewish (i.e. anti-Semitic),

This is not my argument.

The above does seem to be RK's major argument on this subject. Jacob

As for your other remarks, you are wrong on one point, and partially wrong on another. You are wrong to define nation and nationalism so rigidly (or rather, to believe that a rigid definition, however useful it may be in most instances, is always useful or appropriate). Different "nations" have different histories and conditions of life that determine their national consciousness. The OED definition is a reasonable, abstract, starting point. But as with any definition, it must be modified on a case-by-case basis. If your interest in "nation" extends beyond looking up words in the dictionary, I recommend Eley and Suny's edited volume, Becoming National.

You are correct that Zionism had/has to confront the fact that Palestine was and continues to be occupied (in the colloquial sense, I don't mean to be making some subtle political point) by other people. You are mistaken to think that this distinguishes Zionism from most other nationalist movements. Nationalism in almost every country (including France and Germany) has required a redefinition of identity and the exclusion of some. I am not defending this, or trying to excuse any particular Israeli policy -- I am simply pointing out that Zionism is far from unique in this regard. You are also mistaken to think that Zionism necessarily requires the removal of people from their land. It is true that many Zionists believe this, and it is true that some Zionists even believe in forcable removal. I am as opposed to this as you are. But Zionism does not necessarily require the removal of people from their land. Pre-1948, Zionists bought the land that they came to occupy. I agree that during and after 1948 the Israeli government sometimes forced or terrorized people off their land, or have used unscrupulous means to take land from others, and like you I am opposed to this. Slrubenstein

I am sure you do not realize this, and it is unintentional, but this is patronizing, Ed.
I'd tend to agree with April and Ed, by the way, that this discussion is perhaps more broadly ranged than might be needed here. However, perhaps if the argument is thrashed out here then this page and the Zionism and Apartheid pages might be improved? Anyway...
The problem may be (another) one of definition - I define Zionism according to the way in which it has been put into practice, which most certainly has been as a colonial movement (taking as its preconditions the removal of a native people from the land on which they were living, confiscating that land and giving it to an ethnically-defined group for that second group's use). You seem to define Zionism as the philosophy that Jews should have a Jewish State somewhere (not necessarily in the location where Israel is now).
Now, I am willing to grant that any nationalist movement is "racist" in the sense that it includes some and excludes others, on the basis of shared culture, religion or race. I'm also willing to grant that, had the Jewish State been established in a previously-uninhabited region (such as purchasing a few islands in the Atlantic/Pacific) or with the consent of the previous inhabitants (eg purchasing an uninhabited tract of Australia or an uninhabited portion of a US state with the agreement of the government involved that the purchased territory was to become an independent state afterwards) - that, if that were the case, that I would not care that Zionism is racist in nature. That becomes relevant only when an innocent third party is harmed.
I do have a question for you, though - it's the one GrahamN raised earlier, though hopefully I can raise it a little less abrasively: If Zionism was not motivated by religion then why was the Jewish State positioned where it was, rather than in an uninhabited region? Jacob
You have raised the question entirely un-abrasively (and I thank you). Palestine is the place where Jewish collective identity developed and grew. It is the place in which the core of its culture was created. Moreover, it is a place that has figured powerfully as a central referent in cultural productions and activities that occured outside of Palestine.
the character "God" is as central in the cultural imagination (as it were) for Jews as the land of Israel (for a contemporary example, see Joseph Heller's novel about Kind David, in which God is a central character -- and I do not think Heller is an especially religious person). Obviously many Jews believe in God, and for them the idea of God is crucial in their accounts of why they care about the land of Israel. But I believe that objectively, the Jewish people and their culture and sense of identity developed historically in Israel, and it just happened that at that time "God" was the most convenient and compelling way for Jews to explain things like "history." today we can explain history without "God." But the history itself, which we wish to explain, is the same.
Today, largely because of capitalism, most people live in a world where labor must be highly mobile and attachments to a place do not make much sense. I think it is hard for a person fully invested in the capitalist culture to appreciate how deeply important a sense of place is to others. But the fact is, it IS deeply important to many cultures -- Native Americans, and Australian Aborigenes, for example. I do not realy believe that some Native American group ssprung out of the ground in a particular place -- or whatever account they have to explain why they care so much about a place. But I do nonetheless respect their attachment to a place. And I feel the same way about Jews and Israel. Slrubenstein
However, the effect of that attachment was to have Israel established in an already-inhabited area, which brings me back to the objections to Zionism which I raised earlier (and which, as I've made clear, lead me to the statement that anti-Zionism is not identical to anti-Semitism). As a personal aside, I find that equation personally offensive. Jacob

There's been a lot of bickering here. Wesley seems to be trying to cool things down; but GrahamN is provoking people (unintentionally, I assume).

Sorry to have been patronizing, but I insist on setting some...

Ground rules for discussion[edit]

Please try to focus on our mutual goal, i.e., creating a good encyclopedia article about anti-Semitism. If I have to ban someone for a day, just to cool things down, I will (after a warning, of course). --Ed Poor, sysop

Suggestions for disposition of views[edit]

If there's a group of people (like [[Arab]s, I suppose) who think that Zionism is intrinsically racist, then the fact that they think so should be placed in the encyclopedia somewhere clearly attributed to that group. I seem to recall a "Zionism = racism" resolution in the UN several years back.

Inconsistency[edit]

If there is a principle that is inconsistently applied, we should give the reader enough information to determine that for themselves. Or, quote a prominent person who says that there is an inconsistency.

Take, for example, the desire to have a homeland or state dominated by (or focused on) a particular religion. Muslims and [[Jew]s alike have expressed a desire to live in societies where their particular religion thrives or predominates. We sometimes speak of "Islamic states", and I think at least one country is the "Islamic Republic of something-or-other".

If it is "racist" from some advocate's POV to have a religious-dominated or -focused society, by all means let us quote that advocate: Ann Atheist of the Atheists for a Just World says that religious domination is bad or whatever.


I probably shouldn't ask this right now, but:

Theological anti-Semitism blames the entire Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ,

Is the Unification Church's position on Jesus Christ, the crucifixion and the Jewish people considered "theological anti-Semitism"? If so, how much of this is due to advocates misunderstanding Unificationist doctrine? Is anyone familiar enough with UC doctrine to answer this? (I know a lot of UC doctrine, or I should after 25 years in the church, but I'm not clear on what constitutes a anti-Semitic doctrine.)

"Anti-Semitism is hostility or violence toward people because of their Jewish ancestry" (first sentence of this article). If a group or individual believes that one should be hostile to Jews because they are Jews then that is anti-Semitism. More subtley, if the belief is that one should be "opposed" to Jews because of some stereotype (e.g. "all Jews are rich bankers", "all Jews were slave traders", etc) then that, too, is anti-semitic, in my view, as the primary focus is "Jews", not hostility to "rich bankers" or "slave traders" per se. Does that help? Jacob

In response to the above question, I don't think that the teachings of the Unification Church are anti-Semitic. All forms of Christianity (by definition) say that Judaism is wrong. But all practically religions hold that they are right, and that others are wrong. There is nothing hateful about that as such; Christians say that they are right, Jews say that they are right, Buddhists say that they are right, etc. So what would be an anti-Semitic view? Classical Christianity has blamed the entire Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ, and for willfully and deliberately refusing to believe in the New Testament, despite the fact that all Jews "know" that Christianity is the one true faith. This is what many Jews define as anti-Semitic. Another problem, in the Jewish view, was the New Testament's replacement theology, which taught that with the coming of Jesus a new covenant has rendered obsolete the role of Jews. In this view, God has judged and collectively punished all the Jews, and rewarded some new group; members of this newer group often view the entire Jewish people collectively as obstinate people who choose to reject God. This view offends most (probably all) Jews. RK

As the entry points out, "disagreement with the religion of Judaism, as such, does not constitute anti-Semitism....However, teaching that Jews murdered God, or that that they literally choose to follow a faith that they actually know is false (as many Christian preachers have claimed) constitutes the oldest and perhaps most widely spread form of anti-Semitism."


I would be interested in responses to the following hypothesis: To the majority of people in the world, the lesson to be drawn from the horrors of Nazi Germany is that we are all capable of monstrous inhumanity to others, and that we must all consciously guard against any tendency towards such an eventuality. However, many Jewish people only draw a much narrower conclusion: that non-Jews are capable of terrible inhumanity towards Jews, and that we must guard against anti-Semitism. GrahamN 13:44 Sep 5, 2002 (PDT)

  • Eh, I personally think that's an oversimplification. For one thing, people are perfectly capable of believing both that the inhumanity must never again occur, and that Jews are historically more vulnerable or more often targeted for such atrocities. This isn't unique, however - gays have occasionally noted their particular vulnerability with reference to their treatment under the Nazis. (Thus the whole "pink triangle" symbolism.) Dunno what the Romany in general say on the matter, but I imagine, given the amount of discrimination they often receive, they might have some strong feelings in the matter. -- April
Not being psychic or omniscient, it's not for me to speculate on what lessons other people may or may not have learned from past events, and I don't see any good reason to speculate that some specific group of people feel differently about an event than everyone else, and it certainly has no place in an encyclopedia, which is supposed to be about scholarship, not psychological theories pulled from thin air. --LDC

I remember having discussions very similar to this some time ago with RK. Seems people are arguing about the same things again. I am trying to resist the temptation to join in, but I'll just give my opinion:

  • People have widely differing, and often very emotional views about things--arguing about it is unlikely to lead anywhere
  • What Ed Poor has said is a very good idea, that people should just write "So and so says such and such." I might add that we should also avoid giving their claims or arguments in detail, since the inevitable temptation then is to incorporate the other sides response in detail, and then someone else has to incorporate their sides response to the response, and next thing we no longer have an article but a huge debate about some controversial issue.
  • More particularly, say something like (to make something up) "The Palestinian Authority has claimed that Israel discriminates against Palestinian trade unions in wage bargaining negotiations." But don't then go on to give a detailed account of how, and all the occasions on which they have done it, and why the Palestinians say that is discriminatory, and why the Israelis say it is justified, and so on. The most we should add is maybe something like "Israel admits that the Palestinians trade unions are disadvantaged in labour negotiations, but argues that this is justified because the Palestinian trade unions refuse to register with the Israeli Ministry of Labour". But then we don't need to add why the Palestinians won't register, and why they say they shouldn't need to, or how Israel says the Palestinian argument that they shouldn't have to register is flawed, or so on.
  • In summary: Give brief, general allegation of one side -- give brief, general response/counter-allegation of the other -- people who want to know more can easily find whole books full of it (probably propaganda of one side or another, but so be it)
  • Assume the best of other people--maybe they really are an evil antisemite, or a Zionist fanatic, or whatever, out to insult your people / justify oppression / steal Palestinian land / commit anti-semitic atrocities. But you don't know that for sure, so just assume they are nice, reasonable people, maybe people with mistaken views, but not evil people acting out of racism / malice / irrational hatred / whatever.

Of course, I will readily admit I have been guilty of at least some of the above in the past -- and since its hard to avoid arguing, especially about issues you feel passionate about, I may well be guilty of it again in the future. But it is what we should all aspire to. -- SJK 6 Sep 2002 1207 AEST / 0207 UTC.


I noticed that the Talk:Anti-Semitism page on Wikipedia is now a protected page. Under the present set of circumstances, such measures seem to be both necessary and appropriate; I applaud the discretion and restraint of the sysops who have been placed in the very awkward position of trying to moderate this polemic.

As someone who is trained in the adversarial process and (not-so-coincidentally) is frequently accused of playing the Devil's Advocate, I found the heated (and often defamatory) exchange quite intriguing. One of the most intriguing aspects of this exchange was the fact that virtually everyone who attempted to mediate between the two principal combatants found themselves under attack. On this note, please be advised that I am not interested in taking sides.

On the one hand, we have a person attempting to convince everyone that so-and-so has expressed offensive political views which should be denounced by all Wikipedians; on the other hand, we have the person who stands accused of expressing these views trying to claim victim status. Amongst all the accusations, defensive posturing, and counter-accusations, two thing seems very clear: First, the person who made the original accusations has steadfastly stood by the assertion that anyone who is not in sympathy with him should be censured and silenced; second, the person who stands accused of holding offensive political views does in fact have views that are offensive to the person making the accusations against him. Accordingly, there can be no resolution of the conflict between these two parties.

In sum, the issue here is whether a political viewpoint which is highly offensive to one Wikipedian should be denounced by all Wikipedians. The general consensus seems to be no, and some people have a very hard time accepting this. And while I'm not big on rules, situations like this are very likely to recur, so perhaps this is a situation where a general rule should be proposed and discussed in the abstract.--NetEsq 7:59pm Sep 5, 2002


There are two issues for me that are present here: one is what is a neutral point of view. I want to make it clear that the definition for anti-Semitism being discussed is NOT neutral. I also want to respond to the idea that I am anti-Semitic. They are both tied together. Sorry. Here it goes:

The argument is over what words mean – not what we want them to mean. There is the view that anyone who opposes a Jewish state is anti-Semitic. This would include all anarchists and anyone who opposed all theocracies. The meaning being proposed for anti-Semitism is that Jews are a special people with special privileges and rights beyond all other peoples. Those who do not recognize these inherent rights are racists.

For me, personally, I don’t believe that Jews have a right to a home land. I don’t believe that Palistinians have a right to a home land. I don’t believe *anyone* has a right to a home land. All such statements, to me, imply oppression of those who do not fit the label. Am I an anti-Semite? The answer is only yes, if anti-Semitism relates to the superiority or special status of the Jewish people. The meaning of words change over time, and there has been a concerted effort among some Zionists to use this word dishonestly, changing the meaning of this word. This type of dishonest political thought can be seen when George Bush says You are either for us or against us, implying that if you do not support George Bush and the United States, you support Al-Quada (sp?) and terrorism.

It is not possible to use anti-Semitism in the form being proposed in a neutral manner. It is, by definition not neutral.

Regarding All forms of Christianity (by definition) say that Judaism is wrong – this is factually incorrect. Technically, The Religious Society of Friends believe that the bible is the word of God as interpreted by man. Universelist Quakers would probably be horrified by the thought that they thought Judaism was “wrong”. Do not assume that some branches of Quakers are the only Christians who hold this type of view. Looking at things from a really strange angle, it appears that some of the support for the state of Israel in the bible belt USA is based on the idea that they are hurrying the end of the world along, ie Revelations. It would not surprise me in the least to hear that there were anti-Semites (in the original meaning of the word) who actively support the state of Israel. – Karl