The Definition of Zionism

Have you ever wondered why so many people have been saying so many hateful things about Zionism?

This hatred has to come from somewhere, it has to take root in someone’s mind somehow. People aren’t born hating someone. There’s probably a lot of people out there who hate Jews because they have been raised to hate Zionism, what 99% of Jews regard as the ideology that brought them national self determination.

The MP Naz Shah is a rare example of someone who wanted to understand what the offence she caused was and get to grips with the antisemitism of sharing hateful memes, slogans and rhetoric about Zionists and therefore about almost all Jews.

There are more than a few clues out there as to what’s going on.

Take the words of an organiser of 2016’s al Quds Day parade through London:

“Murdering and killing children…just like last time, that’s their hobby, that’s what they’re about. Zionism stands for killing and brutality: that is the definition of Zionism. That is why. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been joined by the true Jews, the true Jews, you can see, are the rabbis in the front of the procession. They are the true representatives of Judaism. They are the true humanitarians. Zionists are basically a plague. They are a fascist ideology who have nothing to do with the peaceful religion of Judaism. The Zionists – you can see them – some of them have been following us and tracking us along the procession, trying to provoke. That is what they enjoy doing, that is part of their DNA: to kill, to murder, to create chaos and havoc. But this is our message: we are black, white, Indian, Jewish, Christian, Sikh and we’ve got one message, and our message is: In our thousands in our millions we are all Palestinians”

You can watch the video here if you like:

If you have anything to do with the Islamic Human Right Commission (IHRC) who organise the annual al Quds Day the chances are you’re going to be taught their description of Zionism.

It’s not simply the IHRC however. The more mainstream Palestine Solidarity Campaign insists on the right not just to be anti Zionist but also to define what Zionism actually is. In their submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry they have said the following:

Many pro-Israel advocates follow the formulation used by Chief Rabbi Mirvis, where Zionism is defined as merely the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. PSC believes that this definition must be challenged…


PSC views anti-Zionism as a means to oppose racist state policies and to stand against the privileging of the rights of one group of people over the rights of another.

Well this is rather silly. There are plenty of Zionists, as in 99% of them, who would absolutely oppose racist state policies and would never privilege the rights of Jews over anyone else. They go on…

More than 50 Israeli laws discriminate on the basis of religion, a process continued by the current Israeli government

Unusually for the PSC they actually provide a source for this assertion, Adalah, an NGO that describes itself thus:

Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. Established in November 1996, it works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, 1.2 million people, or 20% of the population, as well as Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

The link to Adalah’s website goes to a list of Israeli laws they argue are discriminatory, this assertion doesn’t stand up to even the most cursory examination. Examples of supposedly discriminatory laws are such laws as the Law to Strip Payments from a Current or Former Member of Knesset due to a Crime, Israel’s equivalent of the GI bill which allows for discharged soldiers to gain free university courses, even a law that deals with vaccinations for children. Their list of “discriminatory” laws falls flat at the slightest investigation. If you check the source, but no one does.

As long as people are being educated that Zionism is not what Zionism actually is, as long as there are people dictating to Jews what they believe, what their ideology is and what they support or don’t support instead of asking them, antisemitic attacks are going to go up and down depending on whatever is going on in the Middle East. You would hope that people who consider themselves to be serious campaigners would know better.

The Chief Rabbi spoke for all Jews and all Zionists when he said:

But to those people who have nevertheless sought to redefine Zionism, who vilify and delegitimize it, I say: Be under no illusions – you are deeply insulting not only the Jewish community but countless others who instinctively reject the politics of distortion and demonisation. To those who so eagerly reach for a vicious Holocaust reference in order to exact the maximum amount of pain and offence upon “Zionists”, I say: You are spreading that ancient and insidious virus of anti-Semitism.

According to the PSC of course it doesn’t matter, he’s only the chief rabbi of the UK, he doesn’t know what Zionism really is, only the PSC know…

What Naz Shah has shown is that people who are being antisemitic through their anti-Zionism probably have a clouded understanding of what the word Zionism means. There’s hope there that those who are willing to ask Jews rather than tell them what their ideology is can enter into a far healthier, more positive discourse.

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