Antisemitism is not Antizionism

Karl H Christ
3 min readMar 18, 2024

I have made the point before that antizionism is not synonymous with antisemitism. It’s not. Protesting the actions of a government, or aspects of an ideology inherent to those actions or its founding, is not equivalent to expressing false and hateful prejudices against a people or acting violently against them. The inverse is also not true: antisemitism is not synonymous with antizionism. Expressing or acting upon animosity towards Jewish people because of their perceived connection to the nation of Israel, perhaps in the belief that doing so is an act of opposition against Israel, is disgusting, idiotic, and completely unacceptable.

The disparate Jewish community is not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government and military. Many citizens of Israel are hardly responsible for the actions of their government and military.

This is the problem (one of many) with nationalist ideologies, of tying whole peoples without their consent to the beliefs and actions of state powers: people who have little to nothing to do with them end up being targeted because of real or perceived connections to those state powers. In the case of Jewish people and Israel, the majority are not citizens of Israel, many have never been there, and many do not agree with its ideologies, its policies, or actions. Many of them heroically protest those ideologies, policies, and actions.

Imagine if all Americans were held directly responsible and attacked as a result of the actions of the American government and military. Would you want to bear the blame for every murder, theft, or atrocity the United States government and military are guilty of committing? Would you think it’s justified? Americans would hardly be welcome anywhere in the world, able to travel to many countries without fear of reprisal by proxy. What about being held responsible for crimes committed by groups belonging to your race, ethnicity, culture, or religion? Whites and Christians would have a lot to answer for and be on the receiving end of a lot of resulting violence.

In general, attacking any civilian shouldn’t happen. Anyone who attacks civilians in the belief that doing so will send a cogent message, whether of protest or support to any cause, is a sick and delusional asshole. Yet anytime state or non-state actors commit some villainous act, or are simply vilified in political media, innocent civilians are targeted because of their perceived connection to those actors. Muslims (and Sikhs mistaken for muslims) are victimized because of the actions of extremist militant groups claiming Islam as their motivation or the banner for their cause. Asian and Asian-American (of Chinese descent and otherwise) people are victimized because of fear-mongering rhetoric by US politicians and general persistent fears in the US government of China surpassing us economically and perhaps (one day) militarily. Jewish people are victimized because of their perceived connection to Israel.

I have expressed the theory that, because of Israel’s actions, and the emphasis by its and the US’s governments that Israel is the de facto representative of all Jewish people, linking Zionism and Judaism, promotes antisemitism. This is not meant to merely blame Israel, but to emphasize the point of differentiating the two, the state from the people, and to stress that engaging in one is not equivalent to engaging in the other. Just as criticizing Zionism, and the actions taken in the name of the ideology, is not by its nature antisemitic, it has to be acknowledged that there are those who may engage in antizionist rhetoric or actions with antisemitic motivations. That is unacceptable. Antisemitism has no place in the antizionist movement. Anyone who engages in any form of antisemitism is despicable. Anyone who engages in antisemitism while claiming support for antizionism must be corrected, or expelled, and potentially punished. There must be a respected differentiation between the state of Israel and Jewish people as a whole, and antisemitic rhetoric or actions with regards to either is always and completely unacceptable.