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Equating Zionism and Judaism hurts the Jewish people
The core of Zionism is a myth.
What happens to Jews around the globe as Israel escalates its attacks on Gaza? Israel kills thousands of innocents in Palestine, people across the world are furious, understandsbly so. But then a Jewish person in the West is killed or a synagogue in Tunisia is attacked. The cries of antisemitism go up, and thousands or millions of Jews, including myself, decry antisemitism as an invalid response to Israel’s atrocities. We cry that Zionism is not Judaism; please know this, we beg of the world. Palestinians rush to distance themselves from the antisemitic crime. Often many other Muslims and Arabs in the West feel compelled to distance themselves from these acts as well. People in the movement for a Free Palestine rush to condemn the latest instance of antisemitism. And then Zionists come in and work to bind the attack on a Jew, or Jewish institution, to their nation-state and the violence of their project yet again.
It is easy to denounce every antisemitic attack that has come in the wake of Israel’s relentless and genocidal attack on Gaza. I condemn them all. I want my family and friends to be safe – I want to be safe. And so I also condemn the decades-long Zionist effort to claim my entire religion and claim my entire people. Judaism is a religion, a culture, and in many ways an ethnicity. Zionism is a political and colonial project. In equating them, the state of Israel and Zionist propagandists tie my people to their violence. They link us to their atrocities in the minds of millions. And for them, that is just one of the acceptable prices worth paying in their efforts to get the world to side with their program of ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid.
People around the world are decrying Israel’s cutting off of communications in Gaza, relentless bombing of civilians, and ethnic cleansing. Polling and the growing chorus of unions, NGOs, and typically neutral organizations condemning Israel’s actions show that many liberals and moderates have had enough – they cannot stay silent amid the horror. Of course the powerful are a different story, but their vested interest in allying with Israel comes from a completely different set of motives than ordinary people who simply do not want to support these atrocities. In trying to enforce Jewish compliance with every action Israel takes, no matter how atrocious, Zionists are progressively pushing Jews who wholeheartedly support Israel into the arms of the only allies that will soon remain: the right. There are countless problems with this progression. Most notably, the actual, virulent antisemites on this planet are not to be found among lefties who believe in a free Palestine, and real justice and equality. They are to be found among the fascists who increasingly count Zionists among their bedfellows.
You see it happening now. Conservative Jews, non-Jewish Zionists, and right-wing talking heads all lining up to support Israel together. As the general population increasingly calls for a ceasefire, people like Marco Rubio and Vivik Ramaswamy and Ben Shapiro are using even more inflammatory rhetoric to support Israel’s genocidal campaign. This puts them in line with Netanyahu, the IDF, and the fascistic language and action of ethnic cleansing that we see coming from the Israeli government and much of its media right now. Not only is this harmful to Jews around the globe in the long term, because the Zionists among us are moving right and allying with people who do not actually care about our safety here, but it’s also bad for Israel.
Zionism, the occupation of Palestine, and the siege on Gaza have not made Israelis safer. October 7th is the clearest evidence of that, and the situation could get much worse. If Israel conducts a full ground invasion of Gaza, countless more Palestinians will die, and Israeli troops will also die. There is also talk of a ground invasion precipitating a larger conflict in the region. That would again lead to more death. But even if a bigger war does not come to pass, Netanyahu is already displaying how the warping effect that settler-colonialism and Zionism have had on many Jews is detrimental to our people. Israel’s airstrikes have reportedly killed 50 hostages, according to Hamas figures printed in the BBC and elsewhere. And they have only killed 13 Hamas leaders. The families of the hostages themselves are furious at Netanyahu, and they have begun protesting him and demanding a prisoner exchange. But he appears unmoved. He has stonewalled these families and even possibly trotted out a fake hostage family to support him, according to Haaretz.
Nothing shows how this is not about the safety of Israelis and Jews like the total willingness to bomb hostages held in Gaza. And it is not only Netanyahu who thinks this way. Zionist propagandists are backing him to the hilt, cheering on the carpet bombing of Gaza, no matter the cost. That cost includes thousands of Palestinians already, and maybe tens of thousands more. Plus hundreds of hostages, millions of Palestinians ethnically cleansed, and maybe thousands more Israeli lives, plus countless more in future years. It is clear that the increasingly fascist Zionist government has no long-term plan for peace. They want to drive out Palestinians from their land and have no consideration for the lives of anyone on either side. They also have no real consideration for Jews around the world.
I was taught, as so many of my friends and family were taught, that Israel is about ensuring the safety of Jews for perpetuity. We will have a nation, and the ability to defend ourselves. Even weeks ago my response was simply that the cost is not worth it. To slaughter thousands and commit ethnic cleansing is not worth it. Nothing can justify that. And I still feel that way. But now it goes further. Now I do not believe that our safety is really the priority of the Zionist government. They work overtime to tie my people, our entire religion to their violent project in the eyes of the world, no matter the harm and backlash this contributes to. They force Zionist Jews everywhere into the arms of the right, into the arms of people who couldn’t care less about us. And their endless cycle of violence, and status quo of daily, violent occupation and apartheid has not even kept Israelis safe. The whole world sees that right now. So we must disentangle ourselves. Jews everywhere must be clear that we are not Zionists, and we refuse to have our identity tied to the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians. We must cut off support and force our governments to do the same. Never Again means Never Again for anyone. And Never Again is now.
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