A response to Michelle Goldberg, on Israel

By Steven S. Drachman

Generally, these days, I try to devote my energies to my historical fantasy/science fiction trilogy (the final book is coming out in September), but at one time I wrote for a webzine devoted to ideas that might solve the problems in Israel and Palestine. I spent a lot of time talking to Israelis and Palestinians, and I came up with what I thought was a smashing idea that would fix everything once and for all.

Needless to say (or anyway, it should be needless to say) that this strange bug called “anti-Zionism” didn’t really have a place in the peace plan. Because I am not sure how one negotiates peace if the party on the other side of the table opposes your continued existence.

Every time Ilhan Omar opens her mouth to utter “words,” the world at large debates whether these “words” are actually anti-Semitic, or merely anti-Zionist, a pointless and destructive waste of time for my political party.

Michelle Goldberg, New York Times columnist, now argues that Omar “needs to stop giving ammunition to those who want to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.”

Goldberg, however, doesn’t explain how one might define anti-Zionism in a way that doesn’t “conflate” it with anti-Semitism. Zionism, after all, was once a school of thought that believed that the Jews might settle, and enjoy the right of self-determination, in their ancestral homeland. Today Zionism is a belief in the right of the Jews to continue to live in that homeland. Anti-Zionism, by definition, means opposition to Zionism, and thus opposition to Jewish-Israeli self-determination in a sovereign nation recognized for the last seventy years.

“Anti-Zionist” is sometimes mistaken for the not-unreasonable belief that one might criticize some policy of the state of Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism, but that is not the case. “Anti-Zionists” believe in Palestinian self-determination in all of historic Palestine, but do not believe in the right of Israeli self-determination in any part of the Jewish homeland.

Anti-Zionists might proudly point out that they have Jewish friends, or even that there is such a thing as a Jewish anti-Zionist, the way a white racist might insist on his great fondness for his black servants; like the anti-Zionists who wish to banish the Jews from Israel, white racists who have great fondness for black people simply do not believe they should live in the same neighborhoods as whites.

Anti-Zionists have chosen as their one and only geo-political goal to deny the Jews self-determination within a homeland in which their families have lived for the better part of a century, and in which some of them have lived for thousands of years. How in the world can anyone argue that this is not anti-Semitic?