Refuting the Israel Lobby’s Conflation of Judaism with Zionism: Part 2

Since the 1980s the Israel lobby has been desperately trying to confuse anti-Semitism with opposition to or criticism of Israel. This is the definition that Jackie Walker fell foul of when the Jewish Labour Movement smeared her as an ant-Semite when she objected to it during their workshop on commemorating the Holocaust on Holocaust Memorial Day. As have other leading activists against racism and anti-Semitism, like Ken Livingstone, Tony Walker and so many, many others.

As I’ve pointed out, anti-Semitism, as defined by Wilhelm Marr, the ghastly 19th century German anti-Jewish ideologue and activist who invented the term, means hatred of Jews as Jews, regardless of religious or ideological beliefs. Which excludes anti-Zionism from the definition.

And within Jewry itself, there has always been considerable differences of opinion over the nature of Judaism, and opposition to or indifference to Zionism. I have read Jewish authors, who have proudly seen their people as particularly suited to democratic debate, because of their historical disputatiousness and independence of opinion. The Talmud, the Jewish holy book that interprets the Bible and draws further rules for the conduct of Jewish life, contains the records of the debates between the great Jewish sages of antiquity. Even minority opinions are preserved. And I gather that there’s an old Jewish saying, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’.

This debate extends to the nature of Judaism, and who is to be considered a Jew. This is discussed by Carl S. Ehrlich, a Professor at the Hochschule fuer Judische Studien at Heidelberg in Germany, in his article, ‘Jew’ in the Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan eds., (Oxford: OUP 1993), p. 368.

The question of how to define a Jew, put more simply as “who is a Jew” has engendered much discussion through the ages. Are the Jews to be understood as a social, religious, national or ethnic community… A strict definition is therefore impossible to reach.

Tony Greenstein, that indefatiguible foe of all forms of racism and Fascism, has posted up on his blog extensive quotes from Samuel Montague’s letter to Lord Balfour giving his objections to the Balfour Declaration supporting the creation of a Jewish state. Montague was the only Jewish member of Balfour’s cabinet, and made it clear that he was afraid that the Declaration would increase anti-Semitism by making Jews members of a foreign country instead of fellow English people. He made it very clear that he, and the vast majority of the British Jewish establishment at the time, regarded themselves not as a separate ethnic group, but as English people. They regarded Judaism as a religion, and regarded this as the only difference between themselves and the rest of the English nation.

Other Jewish communities elsewhere in Europe also had similar views. When Hungary won its independence from Austria, their was a wave of patriotism amongst Hungarian Jews. Many changed their names to Hungarian forms. And I can remember reading in a history of the Jews I read a long time ago, that by and large Hungarian Jewry regarded themselves as ‘Magyars of the Israelitish religion’ – a position exactly the same as Montague’s, with the obvious difference that they were Hungarians instead of English.

It is therefore grossly ahistorical and simply plain wrong for the Israel lobby to define Judaism in terms of Zionism and support for Israel. Not only have they smeared decent gentiles as anti-Semites for their opposition to Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, but they’ve done the same to proud, self-respecting Jews. They’ve been libelled as ‘self-hating’, even when they have acted out of liberal teachings they have believed to be at the very core of Jewish morality. Those libelled include people, who have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and persecution, and even the children of Holocaust survivors.

Yet these frauds go on trying to deny and cover up history, and gratuitously libel and smear those revealing its truth, both gentile and Jewish. It’s about time this was stopped, and the libellers and deniers of history brought to account instead.

3 Responses to “Refuting the Israel Lobby’s Conflation of Judaism with Zionism: Part 2”

  1. Martin Odoni Says:

    They also call dissenting Jews ‘Kapos’, which is a particularly malicious slur.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Martin. And yes, I can well appreciate what a disgusting slur ‘kapo’ is. They were the leaders of the Warsaw ghetto charged with selecting which of their community were to be sent to the extermination camps in order to save the rest from extermination by the SS. It shows how nasty and malicious those making the smears are towards their Jewish opponents.

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