Zionism critiques and anti-Semitism

Doug Ireland, a first-rate thinker and one of PEEK's favorite bloggers, writes that: "Whenever one criticizes the apartheid policies of the Israeli government, or criticizes Zionism as a dangerous form of racial nationalism, one is taxed by the neo-cons, the unconditional Likudniks, and certain neo-liberal Jewish intellectuals with the knee-jerk response, 'That's anti-Semitism!'"

By way of supporting his thesis, he notes that Jewish intellectuals like Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein both critiqued Zionism, as discussed in depth by Scott Tucker in his zine Open Letter. Tucker notes, and Ireland quotes: "we would have to relegate Jewish intellectuals such as Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and Judah Magnes to the ranks of antisemites if we insist on making dogmatic judgments about their criticisms of political and state Zionism."

I'd like to add my two cents to this always tense debate.

Yes, blind supporters of Israel are far too quick to equate critiques of Israel with anti-Semitism, a dangerous dumbing down of a term that should retain it's precision and power.

But it's Ireland's framing of the debate that I must take issue with. Zionism, as even Tucker notes is, at this point in history, a fractured concept. He writes: "Historically, there have been many Zionisms."

So when Ireland is concerned over those who "[criticize] Zionism as a dangerous form of racial nationalism," it's deceptive to then invoke Arendt and Einstein because a. they're dead and b. these weren't the charges to which they spoke.

I, for one, would argue against the blunt analogy. It's about as imprecise as saying that Democracy causes Imperialism. Certainly, a dangerous form of nationalism exists in Israel, and certainly Zionism ought to be up for discussion and criticism free of casual and knee-jerk charges of anti-Semitism, but lumping all Zionism into one category and criticizing the founding principles of Israel in such a general way only blunts the very real and very worthy critique Ireland is making. (Direland)

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