Zionism as Racism?

Many Palestinians and Arabs speak of Zionism as synonymous with racism. Very few people aside from Jews know the history of the word. Zionism is the effort of Jews seeking to return to their homeland. In the Christian and Jewish bibles and the Islamic Qur’an, Abraham is the father of both the Jews and Islam, and so the land historically belongs to all three religions.

In 70 AD, Jews dispersed to the diaspora (literally, “the scattering”) when they were actively driven from the home where they had lived for over a millennium. In every land that the Jews tried to inhabit, for thousands of years, Jews have been persecuted, forcibly removed, and eradicated through brutality and mass murder. For thousands of years, Jews had no country for Jews. Zionism is the effort of Jews seeking a place where they cannot be removed by a host country. It is not based on racism, but on a desire for peace.

For Jews, all too familiar chants and actions are now taking place across Europe, especially in Germany and France. They include “Death to the Jews” at anti-Israeli demonstrations, bombing of synagogues, attacks on the street, hate mail, and anti-Semitic graffiti. In France, pro-Palestinian demonstrations over three consecutive weeks have led to an increase in such attacks across the country.

According to the World Jewish Congress, occurrences are coming not only from the neo-Nazis and leftists, who had previously been the chief offenders. Attacks are coming from ordinary people who are in the political center. According to the president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, Roger Cukierman, this is the worst violence seen in the past 15 years. He called it “a new wave” of anti-Semitism. In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, presidential candidate, has equated Israeli defense with aggression tantamount to that of Adolf Hitler.

For many Jews who live in Israel, this is a painful reminder of the past. For Jews, the birth of Israel is equated with a place for safety. It was three full years after the decimation of two-thirds of the Jews in Europe (6 million out of 9 million) that Israel was established as a Jewish homeland. Jews cultivated an uninhabitable land and fostered the growth of roses in the desert, learning to conserve water in a way that is imitated worldwide. Israel is now a land of innovation in medicine, science, and technology, which is globally revered.

The accusation that Zionism equals racism is a simplistic accusation in response to a complex historical situation. Indeed, there is prejudice on both sides: Israel and Palestine. Nevertheless, just as Muslim militant extremists do not speak for the peaceful majority of Muslims, those who are prejudiced are not the majority of Israelis. Most importantly, racism is not a concept of Zionism. There are many countries where peoples reside as second class citizens, which is a human rights issue of the strongest proportion. However, Israel exists as the only Jewish nation in the world, amidst 20 Arab nations that seek to nullify its existence. That, too, must be taken into consideration in the equation.

An important question revolves around the support of strong and wealthy Arab nations aiding the Palestinians who live in Gaza. To some, it appears that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, among others, have forsaken their own people. Their Arab allies seem absent. They have the capacity to build Palestinians an anti-missile deterrent device. They could convince Hamas to sign a ceasefire agreement. It begs the question of who holds responsibility for bombing in Gaza. What one nation calls Israel’s self-defense, others label as acts of terrorism. Anti-Jewish sentiment is pervasive. It creates double standards where Jews are expected not to defend themselves against attack.

At the same time, police and military brutality also raise important questions. The harm of others in the name of nationalism or religion has equal negative weight across the globe. Those families who have lost loved ones need the empathy of the world. Whenever one group has more power than another there is the risk of acts of cruelty. But this does not mean that the concept of Zionism is racist in its core. Just as Islam is peaceful in its core, so too is the principal of Jews needing a safe haven in the world.

Opinion by Fern Remedi-Brown

Previous articles by the author on anti-Semitism:
Hungary Post-Election Woes and Rising Fascism
Holocaust Repeated in Ukraine?
Ukraine Jews Flee?
Anti-Semitism Rise of Terror

Previous articles by the author on the Holocaust:
Palestinian Empathy for Holocaust Victims Is Called Treason
Holocaust Denied Can Be Repeated
Part 1: Holocaust Survived 1944
Part 2: Holocaust Survived Through a Door in the Woods
Part 3: Holocaust Sole Survivor
Part 4: Holocaust Survivor Displaced
Part 5: Holocaust Survivor Beats Odds
Holocaust Lessons About Human Morality

Jewish Virtual Library
USA Today
World Jewish Congress

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Kristi Cereska, Leigh Haugh, and Isis Stevens.

11 Responses to "Zionism as Racism?"

  1. Sara   November 26, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Yes, Jews have the right to live in peace and without being discriminated against, but what they don’t have the right to do is kill and displace millions of Palestinians. What’s bad is bad, even if you have “peaceful” intentions.

  2. 101   September 9, 2014 at 6:01 am

    You’re wrong in saying that no one cares. Many decent people do care Anon and you should too if you are aware of history.

  3. BNG   September 9, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Why would no one care about a nation that has been displaced for thousands of years? Why would it be wrong to need your own land when you were displaced from it by force by Hadrian back in 135 AD? Do people not bother to read further back in history than the 20th century?

  4. Fern Remedi-Brown   August 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Anon, I have these words for you from Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a prominent Protestant pastor:

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  5. Fern Remedi-Brown   August 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Ed, Africa harbored former Nazis and their collaborators. Did you know that the Afrikaner white population developed the apartheid system in 1948 in part as an outgrowth of the ideology of Nazi Germany? Greyshirts or Gryshemde is the common short-form name given to the South African Gentile National Socialist Movement, a South African Nazi movement that existed during the 1930s and 1940s.
    Just because every news organization writes against a minority group doesn’t make them right. That is a very common, old trick to sideline an already marginalized group.

  6. Martin Emil Scott   August 18, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Too much rhetoric, not enough reason, except in the article. No discussions are possible when emotion replaces logic. Words betray feelings and should be selected thoughtfully. Hate is hate and cannot lead to peace.

  7. Fern Remedi-Brown   August 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Anon, you are hiding behind your anonymous identity, but should be ashamed for those cowardly, hateful words.

  8. Fern Remedi-Brown   August 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Edouard Degarilhe, you are writing from France, where your country has modeled Nationalism Socialism after the famous little Austrian moustached leader you refer to. Shame on you for blaming Jews when the French are acting this way. You should remember history. Do not threaten others with your words. The world is watching you now, as well.

    • ed   August 17, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Fern Remedi- Brown , I actually moved from France to South Africa 6 years ago . Here I saw the trauma caused by an apartheid regime. How dare you to use the good old ” shame on you ” . You see Fern , you are actually the one threatening me right now and distort my words . I expect you next move is to call me anti- semite .Go check any altenative medias ( not FOX or CNN) like infowars ,amtv,dahboo7,freeradiorevolution,TheRealNewsNetwork , and see who they vouching for . I am not hiding my name neither insluting you , i am open to discussion

  9. ed   August 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I think eveyone knows the difference between ultra nationalism and being proud of where you come from . Zionism is ultra nationalism , not so far from the Nazional Siocialism of one famous little austrian moustached leader . , noone cares about how you call it . it is still wrong and the whole world is watching you now

  10. Anon   August 13, 2014 at 3:50 am

    No one cares Juden


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