Is it possible to criticize “Zionism” without being accused of anti-Semitism?

Respected human rights lawyer and professor of Law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto Faisal Bhabha (top left) has come under attack by B’nai Brith Canada for alleged “anti-Semitic” statements made in a recent debate on how to fight anti-Semitism. The reason? He openly challenged “Zionism”. Read more…

B’nai Brith Canada is circulating a petition to York University President Rhonda Lenton demanding that law professor Dr. Faisal Bhabha be banned from teaching human-rights courses at the university on the grounds of his “anti-Semitism”.

It is a surprising and very aggressive charge against a Canadian law professor who is a recognized expert in human rights. Dr. Bhabha has researched and published in the areas of constitutional law, disability rights, multiculturalism, legal ethics, national security, and access to justice.

From 2008 to 2011, he served as Vice-Chair with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, where he adjudicated and mediated hundreds of cases. Since 2011, Faisal has been a full-time professor at Osgoode Hall Law School where he teaches in the areas of constitutional law, international law, and legal ethics.

Bhabha crossed what many Canadian Jews feel is a “Red Line”

What exactly did Bhabha do or say, that has so enraged B’nai Brith?

On June 10, Bhabha told viewers of an online debate on anti-Semitism “that “Zionism isn’t about self-determination, it’s about Jewish supremacy.”

Faisal Bhabha

By directly challenging the foundational notion of Zionism, to which most Canadian Jews hold dear, Bhabha crossed a hidden “red line” that few dare to challenge in Canada.

Critics of Israel know that it is easier (and safer) to criticize many of Israel’s actions than to challenge the Zionist rationale that underlies it.

After all, many Liberal Zionist organizations including Canadian Friends of Peace Now, J-Space Canada, and New Israel Foundation Canada, openly and strongly oppose the annexation of parts of the West Bank, the occupation and the settlements for example. Courageous Canadian politicians like Alexandre Boulerice or Elizabeth May dare to criticize the Netanyahu government. Church leaders and retired Canadian diplomats have spoken up about about opposing the annexation of further Palestinian lands by the Israeli government.

But they limit themselves to specific actions or policies of the Israeli government and usually accept (or avoid addressing) the basic Zionist notion of Israel as a Jewish State.

In fact, even the much debated IHRA definition of anti-Semitism accepts that criticism of Israel “per se” is not necessarily anti-Semitic, but it draws a red line at criticism of Zionism.

Excerpt from June 10 debate:

Richard Marceau (Vice President, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, (CIJA): “and you know what, here you’re crossing a red line”.

Sheryl Nestel (Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV-C)): “Who makes the line? Does CIJA make the line?

Bhabha, a Canadian citizen of mixed French Canadian and South African Indian parentage, knows a bit about the ugly menace of white supremacy. He has also lived for several years in Israel/Palestine, where he got to see Zionism in practice.

CTIP asked Bhabha why he focuses on Zionism for critique – after all most Canadians have patriotic feelings – so what’s wrong with feeling pride in Israel?

“Zionism is a political ideology that calls for the creation of a Jewish state and encourages Jews to move there from wherever they are in the world. Critiquing Zionism is no different than critiquing Communism, Fascism or Wahhabism. Just because you do it doesn’t make you a bigot (though bigots, like anyone else, may too engage in critique),” carefully observes Bhabha.

“The establishment and maintenance of a Jewish-dominant state in Palestine could only be achieved at the unjust expense of the Palestinians. This may have made sense to the European colonial mindset of a century ago, but to my mind it has no moral merit and cannot stand today,” he continues.

For most Canadian Jews, (and apparently even for Prime Minister Trudeau) anti Zionism and anti-Semitism go hand in hand. In fact a recent survey of Canadian Jews undertaken by Environics and co-authored by York’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Rhonda Lenton, (coincidentally Bhabha’s “boss”) found that most Canadian Jews identify very closely with the Zionist idea of a Jewish State.

However, its not unanimous among Jews. A significant intellectual tradition among Jews has questioned Zionism from the beginning, notes researcher Dafna Levit in her most recent book “Wrestling with Zionism” a compendium of discussions on the topic.

Is Zionism really about “Jewish Supremacy”?

There is no such thing as “Jewish supremacy” in Canada. It does not exist. Jews do not run Canada, nor do they have special rights. Jewish Canadians have the same rights in law, in theory and in practice as any other Canadian citizens.

But Israel is not Canada. The basic theory of political Zionism today holds that Jews need and deserve a state of their own on the land that has been known in the west since the time of the crusades as Palestine. It arose in the 19th century as a defensive movement arising out of the horrible oppression of Jews in Christian Europe over several centuries, culminating in the appalling events of the Holocaust in which European Jews were nearly annihilated.

With the creation of the State of Israel on Palestinian lands starting in 1947, the defensive creed of Zionism became an aggressive one which justified creating a Jewish state at the expense of the local inhabitants. The Zionist ideology in practice today supports and justifies a political structure in Israel which keeps Jews on top and keeps the Palestinians down… and (in the case of the refugees) out.

This was brought out in stark relief with the passing of Israel’s “Nation State law“, which was adopted in 2018 and which FORMALIZED the notion that the Jewish majority in Israel has special status, rights and protection. In short, “Jewish supremacy”.

To Palestinians under the control of the Israeli military, Zionism appears to be very similar to Donald Trump’s aggressive (and racist) “Make America Great Again” ideology.

Dr. Bhabha is a courageous man. Anyone who questions Zionism in Canada risks being attacked as anti-Semitic. But he stands on firm ground, both theoretically and empirically. Dr. Bhabha and his right to openly challenge Zionism are being been supported by the Osgoode Hall Faculty Association.

The Bnai Brith petition is politically motivated. It confuses myth with objective clarity. Those who disagree with Bhabha’s claim that “Zionism is Jewish supremacy” should bring forth their own arguments, rather than making an ad hominem attack based on supposed “anti-Semitism”. Zionism should be discussable.

____________________________________________________________________________

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is a weekly newsletter edited by  Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the emotional and complex Israel/Palestine issue. 

Want to learn more about OFIP? Go to: http://www.ottawaforumip.org

Or contact us at: ofip.chair@gmail.com.

57 comments

  1. Obviously, Faisal Bhabha, like Steven Salaita, is not that well respected. Criticizing Israeli policy and government action, as long as antisemitic trope is not used, is not inherently antisemitic.

    Criticizing Zionism, the national movement of the Jews, is antisemitic. Salaita made antisemitic remarks and suggested genocide. He is no longer an academic in good standing. Suggesting that Israel is a Jewish supremacist state is an antisemitic comment. Anti-Zionists who are Jewish are practicing some form of the religion without the belief that the Jews are a people. As antisemitism is not hatred of Judaism, but hatred of Jews as a people, it is clear that there are Jewish antisemites. Oh well.

    1. Hey Jack, I think Dr. Bhabha is aiming at Zionism “as it is really practiced” in Israel today. In Israel Jews have rights that non-Jews don’t enjoy. Saying that isn’t anti-Semitic. Why do you think so, apart from just repeating the same thing over and over?

      1. Then Dr Bhabha was totally wrong. Indigenous Canadians have rights that ordinary Canadians do not Enjoy, yet saying that is not anti-Canadian. Saying the truth repeatedly should not bother you.

      2. Hey Jack, What rights do Indigenous Canadians have that “ordinary Canadians” do not enjoy? Please don’t include contractual entitlements that have been given in exchange for land cession. If I lease my car to you, that gives you a right that “other americans” dont enjoy. But that is a contractual arrangement. The privileges reserved for Jews in Israel are totally different. Thank you.
        PS – I remind you that I continue to accept comments from you (even if I disagree) as long as they are serious and substantial. I will continue to delete comments that are merely sarcastic, abusive or basically ad hominem.

      3. Really? You have made statement here that Jewish Israelis have rights that non-Jewish Israelis are denied. Given that a quarter of the Israeli population is not Jewish, could you please ennumerate EXACTLY what you see as the rights Israeli Jews have versus Israeli Non-Jews?

      4. Hey Mara,
        I am not clear on whether you are genuinely interested in this, or you are just making an argument. I will assume the former. Anybody who is really information can find lots and lots of information available on Israel’s discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens. (I’m talking about legal and administrative discrimination.)

        But those who would prefer not to see it, can look the other way….

        If you are interested, I suggest you check out Mossawa http://www.mossawa.org/eng/, or to Adalah https://www.adalah.org/en/ Both of these organizations deal with the situation of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

        But let me give you one simple, clear example. As was the case in the USA under JIm Crow, Palestinian citizens of Israel land Jewish citizens go to separate schools. They don’t mix (except in a very few rare cases.) And the Jewish school system, which is taught in Hebrew is much, much better funded than the “Arab” schools in Israel.

        So while ALL citizens of Israel have the right to FREE education to the end of high school, its Jewish citizens have the right to FREE HIGH QUALITY education, while most of ts Palestinian citizens get second rate education. This is reflected in the drop out rates and in university admission rates.

    2. Hi Jack,

      The question that headed this article was: Is it possible to criticize “Zionism” without being accused of anti-semitism?
      You started your answer with an ad-hominem statements, not with an argument – these people are not well respected.
      You then move on into saying that “Criticizing Zionism… is antisemitism”. But this was the question at hand – is it or isn’t it. You cannot reply to a question by repeating the statement. You need to explain WHY you think the way you think. You write as if you hold an objective truth, an axiom. There are mathematical axioms that we can use in a mathematical proof, but stating that “Criticizing Zionism… is antisemitism” doesn’t turn it into a valid argument or a truth. All it says is that you are a very devoted Zionist and you are confident that there is nothing reasonable or non-antisemitic, that can be said about Zionism…
      Since you have no real arguments, you resort to smearing people – ” Salaita made antisemitic remarks and suggested genocide. He is no longer an academic in good standing”. Can you quote a remark that suggests genocide?
      “Suggesting that Israel is a Jewish supremacist state is an antisemitic comment”.
      Really? Can you give me a real explanation of why this statement is true, or will you just claim, as you have already implied in your reply, that I, just by daring to ask the question, am (automatically) an antisemite?
      I am not a zionist and I agree with Dr. Bhabha; if you think that I am wrong, please enlighten me with real arguments.

    3. Mr. Sigman,

      Referring to Zionism as “the national movement of the Jews” ignores the many Jews who do not support Zionism.

      1. The beauty of free speech is that people are allowed, no matter how ignorant, to voice their opinion. There are many who practice Judaism who do not believe the Jews are a people. So what? Of course, it does allow organizations like IJV, JVP, and INN to hold antisemitic opinions while still trying to shield themselves from the accusation. IJV just tried to do that by identifying a supporter of Bhabha as a Jewish white woman. Clearly she identifies as Jewish but does not identify as a Jew.

      2. Mr. Sigman,

        It might raise this discussion to a useful level if you were to provide the definitions of the terms that you compare and contrast. None of the dictionaries I have consulted in trying to decode your message support the distinctions that you appear to be making. I am thinking of “Jew”, “Jewish”, “Judaism”, and “a people”. Freedom of Speech allows you to follow Humpty Dumpty who said, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean— neither more nor less ” but it would help us to understand your message if you told us what you choose those words to mean.

      3. Of course it is tedious and of course you wish to discard my posts as the truth hurts your cause. You categorically cannot recognize your own antisemitism so you also cannot recognize it in the pronouncements of JVP, IVP, and INN. Even when JVP states that Israel has committed genocide.

      4. Hey Jack,
        Perhaps you can help us here. Can you define what you mean by “Zionism” please. Then I can make sure that I know what you are defending. thank you.

      5. From the ADL website:

        Zionism is the Jewish national movement of self-determination in the land of Israel — the historical birthplace and biblical homeland of the Jewish people.

        While there was a continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel over the millennia, the yearning to return to Zion, the biblical term for both the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, has been the cornerstone of Jewish religious life since the Jewish exile from the land two thousand years ago, and is embedded in Jewish prayer, ritual, literature and culture.

        Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in response to the violent persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe and widespread societal anti-Semitism in Western Europe. Modern Zionism fused the ancient Jewish biblical and historical ties to the ancestral homeland with the modern concept of nationalism into a vision of establishing a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel.

        The “father” of modern Zionism, Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl, consolidated various strands of Zionist thought into an organized political movement, advocating for international recognition of a “Jewish state” and encouraging Jewish immigration to build the land.

        Today, decades after the actual founding of the Jewish state, Zionism continues to be the guiding nationalist movement of the majority of Jews around the world who believe in, support and identify with the State of Israel. While some have sought to politicize Zionism, at its core Zionism is not affiliated with a particular political perspective or with particular Israeli policies. Zionists, those who support Zionism, are represented on the right, left and center, hold disparate political views, but are unified in their fundamental support for a Jewish national state.

      6. Mr. Sigman,

        Only the first two lines of the ADL statement can be considered the definition of Zionism that Peter Larson asked for. The remainder is a somewhat slanted summary of the history of the Zionist movement.

        Those two lines contain two words that I consider out of place. The first is the unnecessary word “national”. Jews do not form a nation in the dictionary sense. The standard definition of that word is “a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory”. Jews are found all over the world, are of many different descents with a wide variety of cultures; they speak many different languages. Many do not speak the official language of Israel (Hebrew) and only a fraction of those that don’t speak it can even “read” it phonetically without much understanding.

        More important is the word “self-determination”, a concept that I do not recall seeing in Herzl’s book “Der Judenstaat”. The most common goal of today’s Zionists is very different from self-determination. The supporters of the “Jewish” state don’t just want Jews to determine the fate of Jews; they want to control the fate of all people who live within the ever expanding borders of the state that they want. While there was a continuous Jewish presence in Palestine over the millennia, that area was always shared with non-Jews. Our bible is full of stories that mention those other people; it even describes Jewish leaders and heroes taking non-Jewish wives. Even Abraham, considered the “father” of the Jewish religion had non-Jewish wives and descendants.

        It is the idea that Jews should have complete self-determination, implying that others who have long history in the land should not have self-determination, that many people, including many Jews, oppose. That opposition to Zionism is not anti-semitism; it is insistence that all people living in historical Palestine should have equal rights.

      7. Actually, Abraham had a non-Jewish Concubine, and the Kohane responsibiiities devolved to Moses’ brother, Aaron, because Moses’ wife was a Midianite.

      8. Ms. Cohen,

        The crteria for distinguishing between concubine and wife is a worthy linguistic debate but it is not relevant to this discussion. The point is that the area where Abraham lived has long been shared between Jews and other groups and they interacted a lot.

    4. Both these professors, as did the restaurant owner made clear that they were criticizing Zionism aa practised in Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and not Jews or Judaism. Therefore calling them antisemites is potential defamation which is also hate speech against which they might have legal recourse. It is simply part of a systematic well documented Israel lobby policy practised by both Israel and its lobby to threaten imply accuse and condemn selective targets as antisemites .Jews in this category are treated worse by being called self hating traitors or non Jews and ostracized sometimes fom the Jewish community. Just ask the various Jewish peace organizations who totally reject any antisemitism. This type of propaganda inviolving the weaponization of antisemitism needs to be called out as underhanded propaganda that is desiggned to constrain criticism and discussion of Israrl Palestine. Contrary to restricting antisemitism it can even spur its expansion. Ultimately, the whole world is virtually antisemitic if you include every organization or person that has ever criticized Israel or Zonism. I know whereof I speak having been calked an antisemite on social media.

    5. Mr. Sigman: Please compare these sentences:

      Criticizing Zionism, the national movement of the Jews, is antisemitic.

      Criticizing Nazi fascism, which was promoted by Nazi leaders as the national movement of the Aryans, is anti-Aryan.

      For me, neither sentence can stand up to critical analysis. Neither one is reasonable.

      1. There is no comparison. However, soliciting comparisons of the Jewish state to the Nazi, when done by IJV, INN, JVP, supports of BDS, and other such antisemitic movements could be considered intent to make antisemitic remarks.

      2. Hey Mr. Sigman, I have no reason to believe that IJV, INN, JVP or BDS are anti semitic movements. I know that this charge is sometimes made against them, but I think it is without basis.

    6. Zionism is the movement for self determination of the Jewish people on Jewish ancestral land, and trotting out the court Jews and non Jews from groups like IJV and Jspace doesn’t change that.

      Jews do have rights on Jewish ancestral lands that others should not have just as Native Canadians have indigenous rights on our lands. Israel is not Jewish supremacist in fact non Jews have more rights in Israel than they do in any country run by the muslims. this is fact. how many churches and synagogues have been built in the entire middle east over the past 20 years?

      1. Hey Ryan,
        Thanks for your comments.

        I agree that the Palestinians who succeeded in staying in Israel and avoided expulsion in 1947/48 are the best off of all the Palestinians. Israel had to give citizenship to the ones it wasn’t able to expel. As a result, they generally have more rights (and a better standard of living) than many Arabs in the adjoining Arab countries – (Saudi, Jordan, Egypt, etc.).
        Of course most of those are undemocratic dictatorships supported by the USA and who seem to get along pretty well with Israel. If your defense of Israeli democracy is based on the fact that Israel is “better” than those dictatorships – I agree. But that sets the bar pretty low, don’t you think? Try comparing Israel to Canada or any European country, and it doesn’t look so good.

  2. Thanks for this Peter . I agree with your basic argument that some criticize Israel in Canada but few take on Zionism and that we have to support those who do. i have a small quibble . Zionism was never a” defensive creed” in regards to Palestine and Palestinians ..I think you would agree that it was always a European settler colonial project ,racist , segregationist, with the intention of expelling Palestinians (transfer) and this way before 1947.Thus in relation to local inhabitants it was no better or worse than other settler colonial projects in North America, Africa etc.Most Canadians understand that European Jews were the victims of severe oppression in Europe but don’t understand that some Jews , the Zionists , were the oppressors, not the victims , in Palestine. Thus the confusion.

    1. Hey Paul, I don’t disagree. However, if I had been a Jew in Austria in 1890, facing rising anti-Semitism, and with world wide talk about national self determination, I think I would have seen Zionism as a reasonable way to defend myself. At the very first, it was not clear where to go and it remained somewhat theoretical.

      However, as soon as the Zionists decided on Palestine as they place they wanted to take over, and as soon as they realized they would have to expel people who already lived there, then I think the nature of Zionism changed.

      1. In 1890, it was very clear that the Ottoman Palestinian region was the place to go. As the first choice was not available, other locations were scouted but were ultimately unsuitable as there was no way to rally Jews to go anywhere but their homeland, Eretz Israel.

      2. Hi Peter : If you had been an Austrian or German Jew in 1890 and had become a Zionist , you would have been a relatively small minority ,particularly if you were on the left…most leftists were socialists or communists. The idea of national self determination on some else’s land was always a European colonial vision

      3. Zionism has never been a colonial project, despite the romantic literature advertising it as such. It was always a return to the ancestral homeland and building a state.

      4. Peter,

        There is a brief section of Theodor Herzl’s 1896 book, “Der Judenstaat” (The Jewish State) that states that two places could be considered for the future state, Argentina and Palestine. He suggests that Argentina had the advantage of offering more resources while Palestine had a kind of PR value because, as the historical home of the religion, it would attract more colonists. In comparing the two, it is obvious that the wishes of the local population were irrelevant in his eyes. His discussion recognizes that there would be local resistance and proposes that a deal could be made with the present rulers (in the case of Palestine that was Turkey) and they would rely on protection from the” European Powers”. He seemed to regard the future Jewish State as a European colony – something that today’s Israel sometimes vehemently denies. He gives the impression that the myth of Palestine as a “promised land” was not really important to him except in that it could be used to attract immigrants to move there.

    2. Thanks for the reminder Paul Tetrault ! Indeed, there was never really anything “somewhat theoretical” about Jabotinsky’s 1923 Iron Wall essay (unless revisionist Zionism is here excluded from Zionism), and there was quite some aggressiveness in the Biltmore Conference of 1942. As to being an Austrian Jew in the 1890s, I think it is helpful, besides reading Der Judenstaat, to delve into Herzl’s memoirs in order to discover the length he went in his schemings vis-à-vis the Ottomans in order to secure that state.

  3. Of course you can criticize zionism, without being antisemitic, as an integral part of Israel state policy that claims all of Palestine, leaves no room for Pal rights or Palestine, discriminates against Arab minority based Jewish nation state law and engages in endless occupation, control illegal annexation. The IHRA defn merely confuses matters by trying to equate zionism with the ex8stence of Jewish state of Israel, while avoiding its policies for which Jews are not responsible.

    It was clear from the recent debate at Ryrson that the attempt to conflate anti Israel and pro Palestine activities and actions by the pro Israel lobby was an atrempt to limit and control the discussion on Israel Palestine and to discredit those opposing Israel policy with the smear of antisemitism.

    The current efforts by Bnai brith to discredit the Toronto professor and the owner of Benders restaurant for their alleged criticism of zionism as being antisemitic falks into this category of despicable propaganda just as their tirades against diplomats and officials that oppose annexation demonstrated their outright support for the most extreme forms of Israeli zionism..Bnaibrith has bern sued for defamation ( which is also hate speech) in the past for its smear strategy and may meet the same reaction this time with damages as it is trying to both restrict free speech and damage these individuals financially and reputationally.

    1. No. You cannot criticize Zionism without entering with antisemitic trope. Again, criticizing Israeli policy, just as you criticize Russian policy, is quite legitimate. As the Toronto professor and the owner of Benders restaurant are spouting despicable anti-Zionist propaganda, they are being justly criticized and condemned.

      1. You just cannot accept that anti Israel anti Zionist pro Palestine Palestinian rhetoric is not Anti Jewish antisemitism.
        If it was virtually the whole world that has a critical opinion on the Israel Palestine question and a 2 state or other solution other than occupation and annexation is antisemitic. Maybe you really believe that or want to but it is totally depressing and false. By the ways Jews as a community are not responsiblefor Israeli transgressions or crimes against Palestinians regardless of their level of support for Israel.

      2. Pro-Palestinian Arab rhetoric, Pro-Palestinian Arab nationalism, and criticism of Israeli policy is not antisemitism. Anti-Zionism, which is pro-Jewish nationalism, is antisemitism. The whole world did nothing while Jews were being persecuted in Nazi Germany. So the opinion of the whole world is not a standard of what is right. It may be the standard of “not my concern.”

        So criticize Israeli policy all you would like, as long as you do not use antisemitic trope.

      3. Hey Jack,
        You say that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. You said it before. You just said it again. You keep saying it. But that doesn’t make it true. I am opposed to Zionism as it is practiced in the State of Israel. In Israel it means a set of policies that keep Jews up and Palestinians down.

        I am most definitely not anti-Semitic. Show me what I say or do that makes you think so. I don’t have ANY animus against Jews. But I do admit to being frustrated by those Jews who keep trying to claim I am anti-Semitic.

        What the world did (or didn’t do) during the Holocaust is a shame and a travesty. Jews deserved our protection. Today, Palestinians deserve our protection.

      4. Criticism of the reality of Zionism as practised and insisting on legal and ingerent rights of Palestinians is not anti semitism. Using the holocaust or the bible to justify this version of Zionism and its continuing occupation anbexation and denial of rights of the Palestinians is despicanble. What the world and UN sees as an acceptable solution needs to be followed or the end of democratic apartheid Jewish Israel in a 1,state democratic solution will become the new reakity. By the way Dershcowitz called Beinart a Nazi for suggesting a ,state binational solution that could retain Israrl as a Jewish atate but not having Netanyahu annexing & totally ruling 8 million Pals. Bee dareful what zionism you support and what solutions you reject. There are no antisemitic tropes deteacting from this discussion of Israel Palestine even if the Israel lobby is very auccessful in ahuttiing down opposition with antisemitism smears against all kinds ofcritics including liberal Zionist like Beinart, political critics like Chomsky and kabvalist Madonna most recently

      5. Again, criticizing Israeli policy is not antisemitism. Criticizing Zionism is antisemitism. The Holocaust reference deals with world opinion, not justification of Zionism. However, the Holocaust does justify Israel’s immigration policy.

        As for esteemed attorney Alan Derchowitz, he did not call Beinart a Nazi. That was a distortion promoted by a borderline antisemitic MondoWeiss. You really must read the article before you make these false accusations.

  4. I watched the debate. I didn’t think Faisal Bhabha was anti-Semitic (I stick to a fairly narrow definition) but I did find Bhabha’s rhetoric … unhelpful.

    Take for example the line you quote, Peter: “Zionism isn’t about self-determination, it’s about Jewish supremacy.” “Supremacy” is word that will inevitably offend. First, one could call pretty much every effort at self-determination “supremacist.” Aren’t Catalan or Scottish or Cree or Québécois or Palestinian calls for self-determination or independence or sovereignty an effort to create a jurisdiction in which the Catalan, Scottish, Cree, Québécois or Palestinians dominate?

    It might be fair to say that Israel has moved beyond self-determination for Jews and is now about ensuring Jewish supremacy. One could make that argument. But Bhabha has grander ambitions. He wants to say that Zionism is inherently supremacist and always was.

    Peter Beinart wrote recently, “It is time for liberal Zionists to abandon the goal of Jewish–Palestinian separation and embrace the goal of Jewish–Palestinian equality. This doesn’t require abandoning Zionism. It requires reviving an understanding of it that has largely been forgotten.”

    But according to Bhabha, Peter Beinart has to be a Jewish supremacist.

    Saying Israel is Apartheid and that Zionism is racism is not enough. We have to escalate the language further still, to offend even more people. I don’t know whether Bhabha is an extremist or not, but he uses extremist language. If you want to convince ordinary Jews that the pro-Palestinian movement is anti-Semitic, get them to watch Bhabha in this debate for five minutes. And frankly, I think defending him is a waste of time.

    1. I couldn’t write what Arthur Milner wrote as well as he did, but that’s exactly what I wanted to say

    2. It is Peter Beinart, a Jew, who is being called antisemitic by proposing a 1 state solution democratic equal state that would effectively destroy the democratic Jewish national nation state of Israel. But the same Israel lobby adopts Netanyahu’s position that a real equal 2 state solution of Israel and Palestine is not permissible because that is also an existental threat to the Jewish state of Israel, which requires even more illegal annexation, even though it maintains with atomic bombs advanced weaponry, multifarious intelligence and police operations and US support cimplete military security superiority. Therfore, Israel lobby can only support continuing occupation, annexation, biblical claims, political deadlock and effective denial of national rights and self determination to the Palestinian people. Defending this position is untenable for the Israel lobby so virtually the only knee jerk reaction they can mount against critics of all kinds including Jewiah peace groups themselves is the tried and true accusation of antisemitism or self hating Jews. It is a highly aggressive dishonest strategy that can at rimes be effective in silencing or demeaning critics since no one wants to be called an antisemitite or a racist. So I would say that it is possible that every and any critic of Israel and supporter could be falsely called antisermitic by the Israel lobby Bnaibrith without any sound basis or evidence.

      1. Beinart’s suggestion that Jews do not need their state as a refuge against antisemitism is ridiculous and rightly condemned by mainstream Jewish society. IJV, INN, and JVP are fringe elements on the outside of Jewish Civil Society.

        Beinart is not antisemitic, just willfully ignorant.

        As the Palestinian Arabs continue to refuse to come to the peace table, Israel has no realistic choice but to make unilateral decisions.

      2. Mr. Sigman,

        Israel has a choice; in fact, it has many choices. One good thing about Israel is that its leaders openly debate those choices.

        It is the Palestinians who have no good choices; they are sealed into closed areas by nearly impenetrable borders, have their commerce controlled by an enemy state that does not hesitate to withhold funds, and subject to arbitrary invasion and arrest by heavily armed forces.

        The “peace” offered them by Israel and its supporters is one that Israel would never consider if the situation were reversed. Israel appears to have forgotten Rabbi Hillel’s, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation.”

      3. Well that is because the Arabs and Arabicized people who call now call themselves “Palestinians” have, for over a hundred years of history been trying to kill Jews in an attempt to insure Israel does’t exist. That was the whole reason for inventing the “Palestinian” nationalist identity in 1964. And they get mass help from European acculturated Jew hate, transferred to the Jewish State. And basic Christian and Islamist Supremacism, so typical of global ideologies really do hate on those Particularist folks who don’t “join up”. And Jews living in their own State don’t tend to be vulnerable to being forced to convert as they were in the various diasporas that came about throught the nearly 6k years of their history. If the situations were reversed? There would be a hella lot of dead Jews littering Israeli soil today. That is a markedly silly thing to ask. If you speak/read Arabic, go to any nearly any Arab Website, and read all about how much they hate Jews and intend to kill them all. And this has been going on since the 7th Century. So seriouosly, take a look at MAAN Arab Language section, it is quite an education.

      4. Ms. Cohen,

        Hateful acts such as appropriation of land, destruction of villages, do engender hatred. That is inevitable. In spite of living under a hostile power, most of the non-Jewish Palestinians I know do not write hate articles. They are very busy trying to contribute to their society and lead constructive lives. Their lives are made more difficult and less secure by Israeli policies, but they keep trying to build a place where they and their families can lead a normal life.

      5. I think he got paid, or is seeking some sort of advancement by throwing his birth People under the bus. I am still amazed at his amazing turncoat stance. Maybe in the media he knows he will get paid for doing so. Won’t be the first. You should see the drivel Keith Weiss puts out in Mondoweiss.

      6. Hey Mara, that is an “ad hominem” attack. If you have substantive arguments, please make them. If not, please desist. he certainly has a lot of people worried.
        There have been some very interesting webinars put on by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. https://fmep.org/our-mission/.
        Check them out.
        Both Jews and Palestinians seriously talking about the future. You might find it helpful in reconsidering your views.

  5. The B’nai Brith charge is nonsense. My father’s history proves it. When my father realized that it would not be safe for Jews to remain in Austria, he wanted to go to Palestine. Since, at that time, Palestine was a British mandate, he went to the British Embassy and asked, “What do Palestinians need?” He wanted to make his living offering needed services to the people already living there. He was told that the Arab residents would welcome European trained medical doctors so he changed his plans and became a doctor. Circumstances changed and he was not allowed to go to Palestine so he escaped to North America instead. When he learned that his fellow Jews were driving Palestinians out of their land, he was angry. When I came home from Hebrew School with a JNF (Jewish National Fund) collection box for Israel, he made me take it back (empty of course). He refused to support what Israel was doing. He remained a practising Jew, went to Synegogue, often but was strongly opposed to Zionism. Nobody would consider him an anti-semite but was definitely anti-Zionism (as interpreted in Israel)

    However, I think that the “Jewish superiority” statement is an oversimplification. There are some for whom that explanation fits. They believe that they are entitled to the land and those who were living there before Israel was created are usurpers. They believe that G-d favours them and guarantees that they will keep the land they have and eventually get more of what they call historical Israel.The others who live in that area simply do not matter to them.

    Another group sees the non-Jewish inhabitants as primitive and inferior. They remind me of some White’s that I encountered in the US in my youth who regarded blacks (and sometimes Jews, Asiatics, and indigenous) as a separate species that should not mix with their own “civilized society. I’ve met some who cannot even talk about treating Palestinians as equals because, in their view, non-Jews are far from equal.

    However, there are many others who are simply afraid. Many of them have family memories of the “Pogroms” that Jews experienced in Europe and, of course, the Holocaust. Quite a few told me, “We would like to work with the Palestinians but they will kill us or drive us into the Sea”. They do not like the way things are; they know that the Palestinians have been treated unfairly, but they feel that they need a safe place and they see no other way to get that. They have heard angry words from some Palestinian leaders and they believe them. Some are deeply troubled by what their country is doing but remain supporters of Israel’s basic stance because they think there is no other way to survive.

    Zionism has the same effect on Palestinians as a Jewish Supremacy movement would have but the cause is much more complex.

    1. Anecdotal information is really not worth the effort of posting. What your father learned was propaganda that he, in now way, could determine to be true or not. Additionally, he did not seem to realize that the Arabs were pursuing a genocidal war. if he did, he may have contributed vast sums. But he did not.

      1. Mr. Sigman,
        An anecdote cannot be used to prove a general theorem, but it can provide a counterexample. My father’s story provides a counterexample to the claim that opposition to Zionism is antisemitic.

        I doubt that you knew my father. He knew from personal experience that groups like Jews (and many others) sometimes need a safe refuge. He was quite aware of what happened in Palestine during his lifetime and I cannot imagine his approving of Zionism today.

        Making statements that are not based on facts does not increase a contributor’s credibility.

      1. Mr. Sigman,

        As I have explained once before, anecdotes can be counterexamples to a claim and therefor can be used to prove that claim to be wrong.

  6. Parnas, prior to the Holocaust, there were many non-Zionists. After, few. anti-Zionists were typical antisemites. Jews who considered themselves anti-Zionist were ignorant or did not understand the label.

    1. Mr. Sigman,

      For your information, I was born during the Holocaust and, by the time I was old enough to discuss such things with my Dad, it was over. He had experienced the Holocaust first-hand (even watched Hitler’s parade into Vienna after the Anschluss) and lost many friends. What he opposed was not the idea of a Jew moving to Palestine but Israel’s treatment of the people who had been there before the Holocaust. He was a well-respected and intelligent man who fully understood “the label”. He did lack the Chutzpah to label a man he never knew as “ignorant” or lacking understanding. He simply believed “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Do you think that’s wrong?

      1. Mr. Parnas,

        Your father was wrong. He was not there. All he received were second hand reports that were or were not written in a manner to influence him. What he believed the enemies of the Jews, including the genocidally minded Arabs of the Palestinian region did not believe.

      2. You keep making statements about my father – asserting things that I never knew. How do you know them? Do you have sources or just a vivid imagination?

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