Monday, April 1, 2024

Zionism: the root of the crisis in Israel-Palestine


Zionism antisemitism hatred hostility prejudice discrimination Israel Palestine settler colonialism British Empire

Canadians have been given a false picture of reality in Israel-Palestine, in which the Zionist settlers are portrayed as victims of an intransigent Palestinian opposition. In reality, the situation there bears strong resemblance to the circumstances here in Canada, where settler colonists have seized the land and treat the Indigenous people who have been ethnically cleansed and subjected to oppression with disdain.

In order to understand the basis for the misplaced sympathy that Israel enjoys and to situate what is happening today in Gaza, I want to provide some background on the subjects of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

Antisemitism is hatred, hostility, prejudice or discrimination against Jews because they are Jews. It is a form of racism, akin to Islamophobia and hatred of people of Asian, African or LatinX descent.

The use of the word “Semite” in the phrase antisemitism gives the false impression that it is directed against Semitic peoples. When he coined the term in 1879, however, the German journalist and white supremacist Wilhelm Marr intended it to be a scientific-sounding term he could use to legitimize his hatred of Jews. The expression has been used this way ever since.

Anti-Jewish prejudice had its origins in the conflict between Christianity and Judaism, when the Church blamed Jews for the killing of Jesus. Since its inception, antisemitism has manifested itself in different ways, ranging from expressions of hatred or discrimination against individual Jews to organized pogroms by mobs, the police, or military forces against entire Jewish communities.

Antisemitism often flares up in times of social and economic crisis, when Jews are scapegoated as being responsible for society’s prevailing troubles.

Major instances of anti-Jewish violence and persecution include the Rhineland massacres that preceded the First Crusade in 1096, the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, the 1348–1351 persecution of Jews during the Black Death, the massacres of Spanish Jews in 1391, the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, Cossack massacres in Ukraine from 1648 to 1657, anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the Dreyfus affair in France, and the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War.

Antisemitism is a societal ill that should be combatted by progressive activists for the same reason that they resist all forms of racism and discrimination.  (more...)

Zionism: the root of the crisis in Israel-Palestine

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