The Electronic Intifada / October 6, 2021
It is time to set the record straight.
In this new mini-documentary from The Electronic Intifada, I explain the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
A clear and simple way to define anti-Semitism is bigotry or discrimination against Jews just for being Jews. Palestinians have always clearly spoken out against anti-Jewish bigotry.
But I break down how supporters of Zionism are trying to contort and redefine what anti-Semitism is in order to shield Israel from accountability for its crimes against Palestinians.
Nowadays, Zionists are trying to soften their image by rebranding their ideology as a feel-good personal identity which deserves to be protected and even celebrated.
But I explain how Zionism is Israel’s state ideology, predicated on the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland solely because they are not Jewish.
Zionism was conceived by anti-Semitic European Protestants even before it was adopted by secular Jewish nationalists who aimed to establish “a rampart” of European colonialism in Southwest Asia.
At every step – to the present day – the Zionist movement could not fulfill its goals without the violent dispossession, dehumanization and subjugation of Palestinians.
To mask this reality, Israel and its lobbies are pushing hard for legislation and policies to enshrine their definition of anti-Semitism all over the world.
The main vehicle for this is the so-called IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
It overtly conflates criticism of Israel and Zionism, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other.
It is being used to silence and repress Palestine solidarity campaigners in many countries by smearing them as the racists.
But the movement in support of Palestinian rights is growing, despite political and legal pressure.
I hope this video will be a useful tool for anyone new to the issue or curious about the ways in which students, activists and anti-racist movements are fighting the smear campaigns.
Produced, directed and edited by Tala Kaddoura.
Sound design by Ahmed K.
Written by Tala Kaddoura, Nora Barrows-Friedman and Ali Abunimah.
Production assistance from Tamara Nassar and Asa Winstanley.
For further reading on these issues, here is a list of useful resources:
- “Distorted Definition: Redefining anti-Semitism to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights” – Palestine Legal’s extensive resource on the Israel lobby’s attempts to redefine anti-Jewish bigotry
- The Israel Lobby: USA – Watch the film the Israel lobby didn’t want you to see, a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaign in the United States
- “Professor David Miller fired after Israel lobby smear campaign” – UK professor sacked after the Israel lobby orchestrated a campaign falsely accusing him of anti-Semitism over his criticism of Israel
- “Israel lobby urges Biden to ramp up attacks on college activists” – how Israel lobby groups are smearing anti-racist college students with the charge of anti-Semitism
- “France to criminalize anti-Zionism” – An example of how European countries are implementing Israel’s agenda under the guise of fighting bigotry
- “Anti-Semitism vs. anti-colonialism” – Palestinian intellectual and historian Joseph Massad explains how anti-Semitism smears are used to suppress resistance to racism and colonialism
- “Palestine and the anxiety of existence” – Steven Salaita on confronting and dismantling the myths of Zionism
- “IHRA definition of anti-Semitism silences solidarity” – Rowan Gaudet’s sharp analysis on the weaponization of anti-Semitism to silence Israel’s critics
- “Approach new definition of anti-Semitism with caution, Palestinians say” – on a new definition of anti-Semitism that rebukes the IHRA but omits crucial Palestinian perspectives
- “Trump appeases Israel lobby with executive order” – Background on Trump’s formal adoption of the IHRA definition
- “UK universities reject Israel lobby’s anti-Semitism definition” – How the government is threatening UK institutions to adopt the IHRA definition
- “Neo-Nazis push bogus anti-Semitism definition at EU” – Why EU leaders are joining with the far-right to promote the IHRA
- “Criminalizing Israel isn’t anti-Semitic, say 80 percent of Canadians” – Despite heavy pressure from Israel lobbies in Canada, most people don’t buy the propaganda tying support of Palestinian rights to anti-Jewish bigotry
Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014)