Letter to the Editor: Anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism

Smith: Smearing anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic is a long-standing tactic of Zionist propaganda.

The Nov. 12, 2015, issue of The Maneater has an article by Allyson Sherwin entitled “Anti-Semitic acts not new to MU.” The article describes abhorrent anti-Semitic acts, including drawing of a swastika in feces in Gateway Hall. But Sherwin also includes quotes from Thalia Sass, President of the Jewish Student Organization, and Avraham Lapine, rabbi of Chabad at MU (a student outreach organization of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Orthodox Judaism), implying that anti-Zionism is of a piece with the anti-Semitic acts she describes earlier. Smearing anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic is a long-standing tactic of Zionist propaganda, and Sherwin’s uncritical relaying of Sass’s and Lapine’s remarks illustrates that the tactic still sometimes works.

Anti-Zionism is a social justice movement patterned after the civil rights campaign in the U.S. and the anti-Apartheid campaign in South Africa. Its core demand is equal rights for all the people who are currently governed by the Jewish sectarian regime in Israel. Half of those people are Palestinian Arabs, who are subject to discriminatory Jewish ethnocratic rule in Israel; to ongoing dispossession and oppressive Israeli military rule in the occupied West Bank; and to a destructive economic siege and periodic bloody assaults in Gaza. Anti-Zionism’s signature tactic is the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel until it complies with international law, as called for in 2005 by 170 Palestinian civil society organizations. It totally rejects anti-Semitism and the expulsion of Israeli Jews from the homeland they share with Palestinian Arabs. It seeks to replace Jewish ethnocratic governance with a liberal democracy that guarantees equal rights for all citizens — not with Palestinian Arab ethnocratic governance. It does not threaten Jewish students at Mizzou or any other campus, though it seeks to persuade them to join its struggle for justice. A small but rapidly growing minority of Jews have already joined, including in leadership roles.

George P. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences,


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