Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Causes of Anti-Semitism: Jewish Nationalism

It took me long enough but I am now getting around to writing the final installment of the causes of anti-Semitism, according to Prager and Telushkin's "Why the Jews?" I feel like it is important to finish the process since anti-Zionists on the HP often demand that Jews confront the reasons for anti-Semitism, implying that it must be due to Jewish wrongdoing. Well here are the answers: Don't be surprised if you don't like what you hear.

Having covered the Jewish God and Jewish law, we are now on to Jewish nationalism. Zionism has long been the target of the current generation of anti-Semites (and anti-Zionists) so it is now the "cause" that overshadows the rest in the 21st century. I know that I have already discussed many of the myths and misinformation surrounding Zionism, and I don't want to repeat myself too much.

According to Prager and Telushkin, part of the problem that outsiders have with Zionism is that one usually associated national groups with land and a state. Jews do have their connection to the land of Israel but it is one that is not immediately apparent to outsiders. So of course the anti-Zionists do their best to undermine the Jewish connection to the land to attack Israel's legitimacy. We also see this when people deny the Jews their nationhood by claiming that "Jews are a religion." Apparently they are not familiar with the right of self-determination; it isn't up to the HPers to decide what the Jews are. If the Jews declare they are a nation, they are. No one challenges the Palestinian right of self-determination, it should be the same with the Jews.

But the truth is that the nationalism of Judaism is irreversibly tied to the Jewish people, and as much as it might be confusing to others, it remains. There was an attempt to destroy the nationalism of the Jews, but that's a story for another time (I promise). In the modern era people have followed the creed of, "Everything should be granted to the Jews as individuals, but nothing should be granted to them as a nation." We certainly see that among the one-staters: Jews should live in peace and freedom (as much as they can guarantee it) but should not be allowed to live in a truly Jewish state. To refuse to give the Jewish nation the same rights that is freely granted to other nations, including the Arab nations, is a form of anti-Semitism. It may not be such a blatant, in-your-face form of anti-Semitism, but it is anti-Semitism none the less. Prager and Telushkin have a great paragraph. Here it is:
"But the major difference between antisemites throughout Jewish history and today's anti-Zionists is only which component of Judaism each has found most intolerable. For example, medieval Christian antisemites found the Jews' religious beliefs intolerable, and today's anti-Zionists loath the Jews' national commitment." 
Even among those anti-Zionists who are not anti-Semites we still see a desire to destroy Israel and end the Jews' national dream. They often claim they have good reasons: Israel is built on stolen land, a Jewish state will be racist by it's very design, and so forth. Of course these arguments all fail in the end, because those who are objective know that the Jewish desire to have a state of their own is not any different from the Arab, English or French desire to have a state of their own. It just took a little longer for the Jews to get there. And for that the anti-Zionists seek to deny the Jews (and only the Jews) their rights of self-determination and statehood by any means necessary. If that is not anti-Semitism, intentional or otherwise, I don't know what is.


  1. Is there such a thing as a non-anti-Semitic anti-Zionist?

    It seems to me that denying the Jews, and only the Jews, despite the Holocaust, self-determination and self-defense is anti-Semitic on its face.

  2. There are NO non-anti-Semtic Anti-Zionists. I have to disagree with Zach. If you loathe the Jewish State, you hate all Jews, period. Anything else is sophistry and Zach here should know better - unless he was being ironic about those who hate Israel.

  3. There are reasons for someone to be anti-Zionist that don't single out the Jews. For instance, there are people who believe in a transglobal society and don't think *any* state should exist, including the Jewish one. In that sense they are not singling out Israel, so it's not antisemitic. But these examples are not common.

    Norm, I agree that "loathing" the Jewish state is probably a sign of having a problem with Jews. Don't imply I said otherwise.

  4. Its possible such a principled, rare bird exists. I don't think there is one on HP who thinks all forms of nationalism are equally wrong. Then of course, it wouldn't be anti-Semitism. That's not what I implied and on HP they do attack Zionism because the Jews have sovereign power. Nothing so much disturbs some people as the notion Jews should be anything other than a minority. It never occurs to them any one else should be a minority in someone else's country. In short, majority rule is taken for granted with every other people on earth except the Jews - and the Arabs and their leftist fellow travelers have been trying to reverse it ever since.

  5. Actually, we challenge the Palestinian right to self-determination all the time.

    Well, maybe not the right itself, but the basis on which their claim to self-determination is made. It really can't be argued that the "Palestinian nation" is a modern invention, created in the early 60s. We shouldn't stay silent about the fraudulent origins of Palestinian nationalism out of some sense of politeness. The Arabs hate Israel so much they *invented a nationality* just to spite the Jews. The Palestinian narrative needs to be continuously reviewed and its hypocrisies must be pointed out as often as possible.

    The Jews have 3000+ years of history in Eretz Yisrael, and the world equates their self-determination with an invented people who were created by Arab League mandate 50 years ago? Sorry, not buying it.

  6. REad the book and in fact am using it as an indespensible source in my book on antisemitism. This is the first time I commented and I have enjoyed reading this blog for a while now. Keep up the good work.

    P.S.-I would love to hear from you guys. Email me: