The NYT is still not sure anti-Zionism is Jew-hatred
Elites in denial hold on to their Jewish Lost Cause myth
After a genuine pogrom happened just over two months ago, the New York Times is still debating whether anti-Zionism is a form of anti-semitism, or if it’s being used to squelch political speech. How rich the irony.
First of all, this entire debate, which the newspaper of record for America can’t seem to put away, reminds me of another debate that’s been going on for well over a century. I’m talking about the southern “Lost Cause” mythology. I mean, is it okay for Georgia to have a state park dedicated, by law, to the preservation of the story of the Confederacy? Is it okay for the largest bas-relief carving to be displayed on Stone Mountain, featuring Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, on horseback, in full Confederate regalia? I mean, it’t just art, and “heritage” of the south.
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Is it okay to keep debating the real cause of the Civil War? Despite the fact that the Confederate constitution was a near-copy of the U.S. Constitution, except for the permanent preservation of slavery, was the war about states’ rights? Despite the fact that Davis, Lee, and Jackson all resigned their U.S. Army posts, abandoning their oaths of office to fight against the United States, killing hundreds of thousands of U.S. Army troops, was the war about honor? Of course not.
It’s right to rename U.S. bases that honored Confederates and rabid slaveholders. Georgia should take a crate of dynamite to the side of Stone Mountain, but we lack the political will to do it. The reason for that is a few million white southerners who love to talk about their “heritage,” scream about General William Tecumseh Sherman, and wistfully pine for days of sweet tea on the verandah and mint juleps on the plantation. Those were not good ol’ days, were they? But many southerners can’t put it down, because they don’t want to admit something in themselves—that their forbears were on the wrong side of morality, and their history isn’t one of heritage to celebrate.
Now, back to the whole “anti-Zionism” versus “anti-semitism” thing. It’s all about definitions, I guess. If you define “Zionism” in its most extreme version, that the kindoms of David and Solomon should be revived, then discussion of “anti-Zionism” becomes about Israeli settlers in Areas B and C as defined by the Oslo Accords. If you stretch the definition to breaking, it becomes about Palestinian rights in the land they live in, whether administered by the Palestinian Authority, or Israel. But that’s not really Zionism.
Zionism simply means Jews living in the Holy Land, the land that Jews have lived in for 4,000 years, continuously. The land that, for 1,000 years, was mostly wasteland occupied by Bedouins except for a few pockets of cities too small to even qualify as political entities in the Ottoman Empire. The Holy Land, since the end of the Roman Empire, has only been important in a religious sense, sparking battles between Christian crusaders and Muslim conquerers during that thousand years.
Then Jews decided to move back in the mid-19th century. They purchased the land from Arab owners, who gladly accepted their money. Then, when these initial settlers were successful in irrigating the desert and reclaiming the swamp, the same Arabs who sold worthless land decided that too many Jews might return, and started paying Arabs to match Jewish immigration, person for person. Is that what Zionism was?
Jews did take to violence when the British decided their relationship with Arabs was more important than the Balfour Declaration, which proposed giving the Jewish people self-determination over the Holy Land. Jews did continue violence to establish their own State of Israel, which was approved by the United Nations, but not accepted by the Arab League, in 1947. This was in the context of 600,000 Jews still in concentration camps—death camps—across Europe at the end of World War II. The U.N. couldn’t figure out the “Jewish problem” and concluded the land could not sustain that number of immigrants. Now Israel sustains over 10 million people.
Is “anti-Zionism” anything but the repudiation of the State of Israel? No, it’s not.
The New York Times keeps taking up the myth, that somehow it’s okay to treat Israel differently than other nations on earth, and to treat Jews differently than other people groups who seek self-determination. They even play with the idea that it’s not anti-semitism to think that way. I am not kidding:
But Nexus pushes back sharply on some aspects of the I.H.R.A. definition, stating, “Paying disproportionate attention to Israel and treating Israel differently than other countries is not prima facie proof of antisemitism” and “Opposition to Zionism and/or Israel does not necessarily reflect specific anti-Jewish animus.”
“Not necessarily,” in the same way that advocating promotion and celebration of Civil War Confederate “heroes” does not necessarily reflect specific animus toward Black people. Maybe it doesn’t in individual people, but it does promote the myth that the Civil War wasn’t about people who believed Blacks were subhuman. And promoting a pretzeled definition of anti-Zionism as something other than propagation of long-held blood libels about Jews is exactly the same.
The NYT even goes so far as to suggest anti-Zionism may “squelch political—not hate—speech.” That’s the richly ironic part. The Times itself is guilty of what its own former editorial editor called “illiberal bias.” Axios quoted James Bennet, who was forced out when he greenlit an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (a Republican!).
"As preoccupied as it is with the question of why so many Americans have lost trust in it, the Times is failing to face up to one crucial reason: that it has lost faith in Americans, too," writes Bennet, who was the Times' Jerusalem bureau chief, White House correspondent and Detroit bureau chief before becoming editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, then returning to run Opinion at the Times.
The reporters and editors of the Times live in a bubble, a bubble where Harvard, MIT and U. Penn might be wrong, but are honorable in their intentions. A bubble where, if it were based in Richmond or Lexington, Virginia, might look smilingly upon Confederate honor, though the south lost the war. They don’t see past their own little world, where the Ivy League have kept Jews out since the founding of those schools, openly, and proudly, anti-Jew. They’re anti-Zionist fish swimming in anti-semitic water, unable to discern actual Jew-hatred from the myths they’ve breathed their whole lives.
And when actual Jews are mercilessly slaughtered in Israel, and Jews around the world fear for their safety because Jew-haters hold them responsible for Israel’s violent reaction to it, they pick up the old myths and play with them, stroke them, in order to salve their own consciences. Because to think otherwise would be to face their own institutional guilt. How’s that for a serving of DEI-laced identity politics?
Anti-Zionism is based in anti-semitism, or to be more accurate, Jew-hatred. Hamas hates Jews (it’s in their charter). There’s no contextual discussion of the events in Israel, nuanced definitions, or playing with myths that changes this fact.
I don’t expect the folks at the New York Times to get it, though. It would take a case of (intellectual, not real) dynamite to blast through their myths.