Some Thoughts About Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

PRESENTATION

On February 20, 2019, in a speech delivered to Jewish leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would be introducing a new law that defines anti-Zionism as “a form of anti-Semitism” and that makes anti-Zionism punishable by law. In addition, denial of the State of Israel’s right to exist would be made a “crime offense.”

Netanyahi and Macron

Netanyahu and Macron

The latter formulation would target all proponents of a one-State solution in Palestine — that is, a solution that calls for the dismantling of the Apartheid, theocratic Jewish State and its replacement with a Democratic and Secular Palestine, where peoples of all religious and ethnic origins can live together with equal rights, without any form of discrimination.

[For more information about (1) the history and aims of the Zionist movement since its inception in 1901, and (2) the origin and scope of the call for a Democratic and Secular Palestine, go to Ralph Schoenman’s “Hidden History of Zionism”: http://takingaimnow.com/hhz/index.htm.]

Macron’s statement became a topic of heated debate across France at a time when there has been a surge of anti-Semitic attacks, including the desecration of nearly 100 graves with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France.

Daniel Gluckstein, editor of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID), wrote the commentary below in the February 27 issue of their newsweekly.

Tribune des Travailleurs, which has been an outspoken critic of the growing rightwing attacks against workers and youth of Muslim origin across France, published a statement by the national secretaries of the POID one day prior to Macron’s speech that reads as follows:

jewish graves

Graves at Jewish cemetery in Quatzheim, in Eastern France, desecrated by swastikas

The workers’ movement has always condemned and fought against anti-Semitism, just as it has combatted all speech and all actions aimed at discriminating, ostracizing, repressing or persecuting individuals or groups on the basis of their religion, origin, nationality, skin color, sexual orientation, or lifestyle.

“In keeping with this tradition, the Democratic Independent Workers Party condemns the anti-Semitic acts that have increased in recent weeks; they are part and parcel of a dangerous trend that threatens democracy in all its aspects.” (Montreuil, February 19, 2019)

Following is the statement by Daniel Gluckstein regarding Macron’s new proposed law equating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

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Some Thoughts About Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

By Daniel Gluckstein

(The following article is reprinted from Issue No. 178 — Feb. 27, 2019 — of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune. The translation is by The Organizer Newspaper.)

The political project called “Zionism” was born at the end of the 19th century. Anti-Zionism is almost as old. As early as 1901, the Bund — the Jewish Social Democratic Party, which was the majority current among the Jewish masses oppressed by the czarist empire — “became anti-Zionist,” to the point of declaring: “Whether in economic organizations (mutual aid societies) or political organizations (Bundist sections), Zionists must not be admitted” [1].

Up until the mass extermination of the Jews by the Nazis, Zionism constituted a minority current within the Jewish working class of Eastern Europe. Anti-Zionism dominated overwhelmingly; the majority Bund and communist organizations aimed to ensure that the Jewish masses’ aspirations for equality and political and social emancipation should prevail where they lived [2].

Bund 1926 poster

“There where you live, there is your country,” proclaims a 1926 electoral poster of the Jewish Bund (in Yiddish).

This is the historical reality: Born among the Jewish populations of Eastern Europe and their workers’ organizations, anti-Zionism can hardly be accused of anti-Semitism. Need we recall that the vast majority of these Jewish communities in Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania were exterminated by the Nazis!

After the Second World War, it was by a joint decision of Stalin and the British, U.S. and French imperialist powers that the State of Israel was created, not primarily as a response to the extermination of the Jews, but first and foremost as an instrument of imperialism’s policy in the region. Since its creation, this State has pursued the logic of Zionism, expelling Palestinians from their lands and depriving them of all their rights, starting with the right of return.

For decades, Zionists have spoken about the escalation of anti-Semitism (real or supposed, depending on the case) in an attempt to convince Jews around the world to return to their so-called homeland. Here lies the obvious failure of Zionism: Despite the propaganda deployed, and whatever their sympathy for the State of Israel, the fact is that the vast majority of Jews and people of Jewish origin throughout the world have chosen to remain in the countries where they lived, and not to migrate to Israel.

Mainly Jewish in its origin, anti-Zionism has been, since 1947, the rallying point of the Palestinian people, who are confronted with injustice, discrimination, and persecution. It has been the rallying cry of all who identify throughout the world with the Palestinian cause.

Some people hide their anti-Semitism under an alleged anti-Zionism out of fear of falling under the blows of the Gayssot Law [3]. There is nothing new about such a stance. Any expression of anti-Semitism, whatever its camouflage, must be fought and condemned [4].

This, however, cannot justify the speech delivered by President Emmanuel Macron [5] on February 20 in which he dared to declare: “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism.” Those who would deny Israel’s right to exist, Macron continued, are simply exhibiting “the most basic hatred of Jews.” By announcing a law punishing anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism, Macron is guilty of historical revisionism, totalitarian drift and incitement to anti-Semitism.

He is guilty of historical revisionism for the reasons indicated above: Born among the Jewish masses in reaction to Zionism, anti-Zionism cannot be equated with anti-Semitism. Totalitarian drift: the Republic recognizes the freedom of thought of all its citizens, a freedom seriously undermined by the prohibition to say that the State of Israel is a discriminatory project (restriction of freedoms that goes hand in hand with police repression against demonstrators, including the new law restricting the right to demonstrate).

It is also a de-facto incitement to anti-Semitism. If this bill were to pass, the French people of Jewish origin would be forced to show solidarity with the State of Israel, since their fate would be inseparable from it! With all due respect to Mr. Macron, many of our fellow citizens, whether of Jewish or non-Jewish origin, reject any solidarity with a State based on discrimination; they demand, in Palestine as in France, equal rights for all, regardless of origin, religion or language. Many of them also demand, together with the Palestinian people, the right to the land and to the nation from which the Palestinians have been driven; they are demanding the right of return.

Dr. Rony Brauman, former president of Médecins sans frontières [Doctors Without Borders], speaking “as a Jew and a French citizen,” stated the following on February 22: “The two populations live de-facto in a single state, under the same authority, but one has all the rights, the other has none. I think that the dismantling of this Apartheid system is on the agenda.

Whether Mr. Macron and others like it or not, it is the right of everyone, whether or not of Jewish origin, to fight for “the dismantling of this Apartheid system. It is a call for freedom, equality, justice and peace among all peoples.

Endnotes

[1] Henri Minczeles, General History of the Bund: A Jewish Revolutionary Movement, 1995.

[2] “Where we live, where our country is” proclaims an election poster of the Bund in 1926.

[3] This shows in passing the limits of the attempt to prohibit racism or anti-Semitism by law. … But that’s another debate.

[4] See the POID press release published in the previous issue of La Tribune des travailleurs.

[5] Speech delivered by Macron at the Crif dinner on February 20.

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