Anti-Zionism is usually accompanied by a refusal to consider there is such a thing as a Jewish people with the right to freely choose its destiny within the framework of a sovereign nation-state. Portraying Zionism in a negative light, such as by likening it to a type of racism (as illustrated in a 1975 United Nations General Assembly resolution that was later rescinded in 1991), constitutes an expression of anti-Zionism.
Anti-Zionism tends to target not so much Israel's actions as its very essence. It must therefore be distinguished from criticism, disapproval or condemnation of one or more of the policies implemented by the State of Israel. There is, moreover, no autonomous word used to designate specific criticism of one or other aspect of the policies implemented by other states in the world. Nor is anti-Zionism simply a matter of not supporting Zionism (if that were the case, we'd be talking about “a-Zionism”). As Meïr Waintrater, president of the French section of JCall, explains: “the anti-Zionist discourse is presented first and foremost as a systematic criticism of the State of Israel [...], the word 'Zionism' being supposed to sum up everything that makes Israel intrinsically hateful. Anti-Zionism conceived in this way is no more aimed at Zionism than anti-Semitism is aimed at Semites; in both cases it is a lexical operation designed to make an aggressive impulse seem like a defensive reflex.”
Before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, anti-Zionism initially consisted of an attitude of rejection of the Zionist project. A distinction can therefore be made between Jewish anti-Zionism, inspired by religion (mainly from Orthodox circles who believe that the “return to Zion” must be preceded by the coming of the Messiah) or politics (in both socialist and assimilationist versions), and anti-Zionism of a conspiratorial nature, which involved broadening historic antisemitic rhetoric to include new targets: the Zionist movement, and the State of Israel. Just a few months after the first Zionist Congress in Basel (1897), the Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal at the time steeped in antisemitism, projected classic, accusatory, anti-Jewish themes onto the nascent Zionist movement.
Far left antisemitism might sound like a contradiction but it is a reality that has been widely documented, including recently by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). A key finding is that this type of antisemitism closely links Israel and Zionism. Both are seen as a representation of Western colonialism and imperialism by a number of far left activists.
(Last updated on 12/14/2023)