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July 13, 2018


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Scott Pruitt Edndowed Chair in Enviconmental Justice

What happened to the center. You hit the nail on the head...Donald Trump doesn't look half bad when compared to the extreme Left and Louis Farrakhan. However, the Jews are stuck between this Left wing crap and the far Right wing neo Nazi militia crap. Both say exactly the same things....

Scott Pruitt Edndowed Chair in Enviconmental Justice

The extreme Right Wing calls it Zoglandia or the Zionist Occupied Government or march with their Tiki torches and chant "the Jews will not replace us." Not much different than the extreme Left Wing as depicted above.


The left relates to the term "Zionism" not only because it is easy to cloak Jew hate under it. It is also because it evokes a meme, used by leaders in Iran and in this country too. It is the notion that Israel is a "colonial" power. It is the notion that "Europeans" invaded Palestine, and displaced the native Arab population, using a horrible wave of violence. A recent leader in this country greatly admired the "anti colonial" meme in other contexts -- probably this one too.

Zionism, as putatively coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum, was indeed a political call "for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel." This is not colonialism.

However, this movement does suggest that there is "some" truth to the notion that there was a movement of "Europeans" to the land known as "Palestine" ... For progressives today, think of this as "refugees" seeking "asylum." (Yes, I just read the piece in the New Republic about the way that Israel is treating refugees, and, yes, I agree that the government should do better.)

These kernels of truth, about "Zionism," however, demonstrably have nothing to do with US politics, for example. When "Estrada attacked Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, telling him to “try keeping your party, your religion and your people in check.” (Bauman is an openly gay Orthodox Jew)" what had that to do with "Zionism"?

We have seen on this site examples of this sort of conflation.

In all, the gravitation of some thinking people on the Left to "anti Zionism" as a form of "anti colonialism" is perhaps understandable: less understandable, but perhaps in the same ballpark, is faulting or condemning supporters of any actions by current State of Israel.

Lumping condemnation of a person's religion under the cloak "anti Zionism," OTOH, is just Jew hate: and, too many on the left share that attitude, and I mean ESPECIALLY in legal academia, where "Do we really need another middle aged, white, male Jew?" is an acceptable form of thought and action.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

(For better and worse, this will be my only comment on this thread.)

Forty years on the Left (i.e., left of the Democratic Party) in this country (in California, although in communication with others elsewhere), and I have never encountered anyone who was at once anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I suspect it is, in fact, a fairly rare phenomenon. All the same, I welcome exposure of any instances of same, assuming in this instance that everything Steve says here is accurate.

As for Zionism itself, it has very much to do with colonialism, specifically settler colonialism, as well argued by the late and great Jewish French Marxist, historian, and sociologist (who lost his parents in the Holocaust), Maxime Rodinson,* in his classic study, Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? (Anchor Foundation/Pathfinder, 1973).** Some Jewish groups in this country remain ardently Zionist and, as recent political events in Jerusalem make painfully plain, “Christian Zionists” have had a disproportionately (i.e., relative to number of people who subscribe to their views) immense influence within the Trump administration. And the prevailing Zionist narrative (found in a couple of well-known films) as maintained more or less by leading figures in the Israeli state in conjunction with quite a number of its academic intellectuals, has likewise had an enormous impact on politics in the U.S. as it relates to foreign affairs and policies toward the Arab world the state of Israel. At the same time, of course, more than a few Jews (both religious and ‘secular’) on the Left, be it in the U.S. and Israel or elsewhere around the world, are anti- or post-Zionist (the latter term as explained by Ilan Pappe).

* For a brief introduction to Rodinson, please see my Religious Left Law post (cross-posted at Ratio Juris), “Maxime Rodinson: ‘independent Marxist’ & (pre-Saidian) French Orientalist,” November 19, 2015.

** A more recent and succinct summary is provided by Pappe (who reminds us that Zionism ‘was … a Christian project of colonization before it became a Jewish one.’):

“ … Zionism was a settler colonial movement, similar to the movements of Europeans who had colonized the two Americas, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Settler colonialism differs from classical colonialism in three respects. The first is that settler colonies rely only initially and temporarily on the empire for their survival. In fact, in many cases, as in Palestine and South Africa, the settlers do not belong to the same nation as the imperial power that initially supports them. More often than not they ceded from the empire, redefining themselves as a new nation, sometimes through a liberation struggle against the very empire that supported them (as happened during the American Revolution for instance). The second difference is that settler colonialism is motivated by a desire to take over land in a foreign country, while classical colonialism covets the natural resources in its new geographical possessions. The third difference concerns the way they treat the new destination of settlement. Unlike conventional colonial projects conducted in the service of an empire or mother country, settler colonialists were refugees of a kind seeking not just a home, but a homeland. The problem was that the new ‘homelands’ were already inhabited by other people. In response, the settler communities argued that the new land was theirs by divine or moral rights, even if, in cases other than Zionism, they did not claim to have lived there thousands of years ago. In many cases, the accepted method for overcoming such obstacles was the genocide of the indigenous locals.” — Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths about Israel (Verso, 2017): 41-42

[I have a handful of bibliographies at my Academia page with a sufficient number of titles for those sincerely interested in researching the politics and history of Zionism: (i)The Arab World: Modern & Post-Modern, (ii) The Bedouin, (iii) Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, (iv) Nonviolent Resistance in the Middle East (with an emphasis on the Palestinian struggle); and (v) Zionist Ideologies.]

Steve L.

I have no trouble the acknowledging the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and recognizing when anti-Zionists are not anti-Semitic.

Patrick O'Donnell, however, denies the complementary phenomenon: "I have never encountered anyone who was at once anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic."

I like and respect Patrick, but all I can say about that observation is that he obviously hasn't been keeping his eyes open.


It seems to me to be a valid question:

Is any condition of hate of "Zionism" in any particular person because of "Zionism," (as accurately defined) or is this antipathy because "the Jews" were "Zionists"? It is hard to tell, sometimes. Sometimes, as in the case cited above, perhaps not so much.

A quick look at the UN Resolutions, the attention that is paid, mainly by persons "on the left" to transgressions of Israel (and the number of people affected thereby) v. the transgressions of other countries (and the number of people affected thereby), and, indeed, as Steve suggests, impressions based on just living among the people of this country (mainly persons "on the left") and listening to what they often so casually say, and one might begin to understand how to gather information to answer this question.

A hatred of colonialism is, as stated above, perhaps understandable in most circumstances. It is equating the Jewish religion, and all of its adherents, with colonialism that is both logically and factually false in the main, though it certainly could be true as to a small fraction of Jews, long ago.

It is also false, in my view, to equate any support for the State of Israel, today, with "Zionism" though many accept this form of illogical tarring. If support for Israel in any respect is, per se, wrong because it is "Zionist", then one cannot accept the existence of the State of Israel.

As in other contexts, "liberals" are often so absolutist in their opinions that they can allow no possible "correctness" in their political enemies, and, because they are politically opposed to Israel, they become especially inflamed at "Jews" - who are presumed (or do) support the "Jewish State" in whole, or in part.

I'll never forget when an otherwise ever so proper senior partner in a major law firm, years ago, began speaking to me about "worldwide Jewry" (that's how it used to be said).

I thought: What an ignorant turd.

Steve L.

I have given some more thought to Patrick's assertion.

Given the ancient and enduring presence of anti-Semitism in Western culture, it is truly remarkable to claim that he has never met a single anti-Jewish person among left wing anti-Zionists. The inevitable implication would be that opponents of the Jewish state are somehow uniquely impervious to anti-Semitism, which has been otherwise present in virtually every Western political movement of the last centuries, both right and left (thus the phrase "the socialism of fools"). How can that be remotely possible, unless one is determined to overlook it?

A thought experiment shows the impossibility of Patrick's claim. It is possible to oppose affirmative action without being racist. But no one would believe the claim, paraphrasing Patrick, "I have never encountered anyone who was at once anti-affirmative action and anti-minority."

Likewise, it is possible to be in favor of retaining Confederate monuments without being racist, but it would to be believable to say "I have never encountered anyone who was at once pro-Confederate monuments and racist."

Or "I have never encountered anyone who was at once pro-life and sexist."

It's the insistence on "never" that discredits Patrick's contention.



one needs to do a little logic problem

A is anti-Zionist
Zionists are Jews
A is an anti-Jew

The last two propositions are false, right?

We could modify prop 2, to say "mostly" and then perhaps C would be true, but not always

A is anti-Zionist
Zionists believe that Jews should be in charge in Palestine
A is anti-Jew

Now, we are getting closer to anti-Semitism, but not there yet, right?

A is anti-Zionist
A believes that all Zionists are Jewish or Jew lovers
A is anti-Jew and Jew lovers


or this way

All Zionists are in favor of Israel
Israel is a racist state in favor of Jews
All Zionists are racists in favor of Jews

Bingo, no?

All Zionists are in favor of Israel for the Jews
Israel for the Jews is racist
All Zionists are racists for the Jews


Most Zionists are Jews
Zionism is racism
Most Zionists are Jewish racists


Most Jews are Zionists
Zionism is racism
Most Zionists are Jewish racists

I hate racism.
Jews are Zionists
Zionism is racism
I hate Jews.


I ask sincerely, as I haven't played with these syllogisms before today.


This one perhaps is better stated

Most Jews are Zionists
Zionism is racism
Most Jews are Zionist racists

Paul Horwitz

If Patrick is reading the comments, let me say that I appreciate his sincere and civil attempt to intervene once and intervene simply. (That's not directed at him in particular. Would that we all behaved in that way as commenters.) And I appreciate too that Steve expresses bewilderment with Patrick's statement bluntly but courteously. These are the kinds of subjects that give rise to much heat and little light and to repeated back-and-forths of diminishing value. I'm not sure I'm not guilty of that by contributing one more comment.

I can't speak to Patrick's own experience, of course, but I'm surprised by the statement too. Obviously it is possible to be anti-colonialist and to believe that this applies to Israel, or to object more specifically to Israel's policies, and quite possibly to Zionism more generally, without being anti-Semitic. (On the latter, one might at least have a general view against any "promised land"-type ideologies or policies, and/or policies of this sort that involve displacement or something of the sort, and include Zionism among them.)

On the other hand, we know at least two things about human nature and human history: 1) People are often motivated by racism, bigotry, or hatred. Sometimes that bigotry, racism, or hatred ends up contributing to these individuals developing or subscribing to an ideology or policy view. 2) People who strongly believe in some view, ideology, or policy (no matter how sound that view is and no matter how sincere and decent its beginnings), being human, are capable of developing strong emotions on this issue that spill over into something more and other than the view or motives with which they began and end up, at a minimum, taking on aspects of racism, bigotry, or hatred.

Given both these propositions, neither of which seem especially controversial to me, it would be surprising if one did *not* come across either anti-Semites who end up believing, perhaps sincerely, in something like anti-Zionism, but in which the anti-Zionism is affected, distorted, touched with, or curdled by anti-Semitism, or anti-Zionists or anti-colonialists whose strong, human emotions on the subject lead them down the path to anger, demonization, and ultimately anti-Semitism. So far as I know, academics or intellectuals are in no way immune from these common human tendencies, and of course there's a substantial literature on intellectuals who fell into one or the other tendency. (One could fill a good shelf on French intellectuals alone, and I don't think there's any reason to think the French are exceptional in this. One could fill another several shelves with American intellectual history.)

Again, I'm not questioning Patrick's experience. How could I? But it seems to me it must be a pretty exceptional one, and that this is true whether or not most of his social circle consists of academics or intellectuals.


"I have given some more thought to Patrick's assertion."

Steve, I'm glad you did do so, and think your second response to his assertion was spot-on.


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