Over in the comments section of another Indiana focused blog, I notice that Indianapolis based anti-tax activist Melyssa Donaghy is defending herself from accusations of anti-semitism. At the root of the controversy, Melyssa posted a link to a cartoon on another website (The cartoon is still at the top of the page). The cartoon depicted an angry bear charging at Georgia, with the "o" of Georgia depicted as a Star of David. Several fighter planes emblazoned with the words "BP" and Stars of David hovered over Georgia, next to an American stealth bomber, ostensibly defending a large oil pipeline. Given the political bent of the website and the fact that less than 1% of Georgia's population is composed of Jews, the message of the cartoon was clear: "Jewish" interests were controlling the Saakashvili government in an effort to secure oil interests and perpetrate, in the words of another
unreadable screed article on the website, a "US-Israeli-Muslim genocide of Russian Christians" in northern Georgia.
Most people would recognize the cartoon pretty straight away as repugnant anti-Semitism, but Melyssa responded to criticism from an interlocutor named "Lord Peter" that her boyfriend was "as jewish as they get" and that the website in question was not anti-Semitic, but only anti-Zionist. Read my thoughts on this claim, after the jump.
I'm very well aware that it is perceived as anti-semetic and I often share what I read with my jewish friends. They aren't anti-semetic, the site is anti-zionist. There is a difference.
There is, of course, a difference. An anti-Zionist is someone who is opposed to Zionism and an anti-Semite is someone who hates, broadly, Semites, but usually, narrowly, Jews. Jews are a people defined by a shared religion, culture, and, sometimes, ethnicity, while Zionism is an ideology that argues that Israel should be the home to a Jewish nation. Not all Jews are Zionists, nor are all Zionists Jews. I am, in general, anti-Zionist, but am not an anti-Semite.
It's also important that Melyssa bring up this distinction. Anti-Zionism is frequently rhetorically wrongly conflated with anti-Semitism. Indeed, even milquetoast criticism of the state of Israel, regardless of the speaker's thoughts about Zionism, sometimes is portrayed as anti-Semitism. So, it's good to remind folks that there is a difference. Criticisms of Israel are not, in and of themselves, criticisms of Jews.
The complicating factor here is the tendency of some folks to appropriate the phrase "anti-Zionism" and attach it to a larger set of issues -- issues unassociated with the already complex nature and existence of the state of Israel. That's to say, people who are concerned with an "International Zionist Conspiracy" like to fashion themselves as "anti-Zionist" when in fact their concerns have precious little to do with Israel and mostly to do with a non-existent cabal of Jewish Bankers that is manipulating world events for their own financial benefit. This variety of "anti-Zionism" is not actually anti-Zionism and, in fact, distracts and confuses people away from genuine anti-Zionism -- a set of beliefs that keeps close to its heart the lives and well-being of all citizens of Israel -- Jewish and Palestinian -- and is intimately tied to the ethical precepts set forward in the Torah. Put another way, this variety of "anti-Zionism" is not "anti-Zionism" but paranoid nonsense that if it is not explicitly anti-Semitic, though it usually is, at the very least trades on a variety of vile anti-Semitic cliches and stereotypes.
I have no personal knowledge of whether or not Melyssa is an anti-Semite and I'll take her at her word when she says she is not. That said, the website is clearly anti-Semitic, not just anti-Zionist.
It conflates anti-Zionism with opposition to some sort of "Zionist New World Order." It doesn't promote the idea that Israel should be a pluralist multi-ethnic state, nor does it advance policies that would help actualize that ideal. Instead it promotes the NWO nonsense -- textbook anti-Semitism direct from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion -- and spreads the outrageous slur that a Jewish cabal of bankers is manipulating world affairs for its own financial profit. Even a basic understanding of the history of anti-Semitism reveals it as vile, indefensible trash.
But why even bother to go that deep. Just read an excerpt from an article on the website titled, "The Judeo Masonic Roots of Modern Culture":
Mankind is being subverted by its political and cultural leaders, beholden to international bankers and their allies, who often are practising Luciferians. They use Judaism (incl. Zionism) and Freemasonry as instruments of organization and control.
Ummmm... yeah. "Judaism" is a tool of Luciferians? No, no, nothing anti-Semitic about that...
So, Melyssa, what does the quoted article have to do with anti-Zionism? How is it not pretty straightforward anti-Semitic bile? Consider me curious to hear your answer.