The rhetoric of anti-Zionists


March 26, 2021

(JNS) — Anti-Zionism, the rejection of self-determination for Jews in their ancestral homeland, has gained considerable ground in recent years, sparking debate about whether it is just another manifestation of anti-Semitism.

Anti-Zionists contend that anti-Zionism is a political position rooted in progressive values and principled advocacy for Palestinians whom they consider the rightful heirs to the Holy Land. Charges of anti-Semitism, they say, are just cynical smears meant to muzzle legitimate criticism of Israel, while real anti-Semitism is limited to far-right, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

It is instructive, therefore, to compare the language and rhetoric used by prominent anti-Zionist organizations, politicians, journalists and activists to the classic anti-Semitic tropes disseminated by Nazis in the prelude to and during the Holocaust.

Nazi propaganda was the first weapon employed by Hitler and his Nazi party in the battle to transform public opinion, vilify Jews and pave the way for the Holocaust. It incorporated classic anti-Jewish blood libels and medieval anti-Semitic fabrications of Jews being agents of the devil seeking supremacy over non-Jews. These were amplified with canards about Jewish racism, criminality, deviousness, greed, wealth, and corruption.

The same themes are used by current-day anti-Zionist activists. While Nazi propagandists demonized “Jews” as a collective, anti-Zionists substitute “Israel” or “Zionists” as the largest and most prominent, modern-day collective of Jews.

A recent CAMERA study compares language from Nazi propaganda sources to statements by prominent anti-Zionists across seven themes: 1) Jewish supremacy; 2) racism; 3) criminality and murder; 4) deviousness, lies and slander; 5) tumors and parasites; 6) money and influence; and 7) Zionism.

The trope of Jewish supremacy and conquest was a mainstay of Nazi indoctrination. The old anti-Semitic canard about Jews seeking to dominate and control the world’s non-Jews was popularized in the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion and was resurrected by the Nazis who promoted it as incontrovertible truth.

It was presented as the primary evil to be defeated. This trope has become the backbone of current anti-Zionist propaganda, most recently with the controversial position paper of the Israel-based NGO B’Tselem.

The notion of Aryan racial superiority and purity was central to Nazi ideology and lauded as its aspirational goal. At the same time, the Nazis projected the evil and immorality of their ideology onto the Jews, whom they falsely accused of harboring the same objectives. Modern-day anti-Zionists continue the pattern of projecting this immorality onto Israel and Zionism.

The theme of Jewish criminality and murder was used in Nazi Germany to frighten the non-Jewish populace and justify the eradication of Jews. A similar canard that replaces “the Jew” with “Israel” or “Zionists” is repeated by modern-day anti-Zionists.

The Nazis portrayed Jews as devious schemers who lulled their unsuspecting victims into a false sense of security, lied about their actions and slandered their opponents. The same themes permeate anti-Zionist rhetoric.

While Nazi propagandists characterized Jews as subhuman—rodents, vermin and particularly as parasites that take over and poison the bodies and lives of non-Jews, modern-day anti-Zionists translate parasites as cancer that invades and destroys its host.

The Nazis accused Jews of wielding money as a corrupting influence to gain power and control over non-Jews. Anti-Zionists use the theme to attack political contributions from Jewish philanthropists and supporters of Israel as a corrupting influence.

The Nazis cast Zionism as illegitimate, a subterfuge, and the Arabs as the rightful owners of the land. Anti-Zionists today do the same.

That some Jews engage in it — often offered as proof that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism — also finds precedent under the Nazi regime.  There were Jews on the fringes (for example, the Verband nationaldeutscher Juden, League of National German Jews) in pre-war Nazi Germany, who helped agitate against Jews, as well.

Nazis, ironically, projected their own sins onto the Jews: They aspired to Aryan racial purity, while accusing Jews of being the racists.  They were guilty of genocide and heinous crimes against humanity, while accusing Jews of being criminals and murderers.

They lied, slandered, incited and ensnared the Jews with deviousness, while accusing Jews of those behaviors. They acted as a malignancy that took over and extinguished Jewish life, while accusing Jews of infiltrating the body like parasites.

And, just as the Nazis projected their own brand of evil onto the Jews in order to demonize them, modern-day anti-Zionists often use Nazi analogies to describe Israel, following their lead yet again.

Ricki Hollander is a senior analyst at CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. 


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