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May 31, 2015 12:59 pm

President Obama and Pope Francis Both Admit That Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism

avatar by Adam Levick

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Pope Francis. Photo: Casa Rosada via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for “progressive” anti-Zionists.

First, Barack Obama, during his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg last week, clearly suggested that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitic.  More recently, it was reported that Pope Francis told Portuguese-Israeli journalist Henrique Cymerman that “anyone who does not recognize the Jewish people and the State of Israel — and their right to exist — is guilty of anti-Semitism.”

Of course, the comments by Obama and Pope Francis regarding the inherent racism of denying Israel’s right to exist are consistent with the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism and the U.S.State Department’s definition.

The U.K. media largely avoided reporting on Obama’s comments about anti-Semitism. So, it is likely that the same media outlets – who were so eager to selectively quote the pontiff’s highly disputed comments about Mahmoud Abbas being ‘an angel of peace’ – will similarly ignore Francis’s apparent agreement that you can’t simultaneously be an anti-racist and an anti-Zionist.

You may recall that, back in March, Marcia Freedman, in a J-Street panel discussion on Liberal Zionism, argued that the Jewish people should not have a state, and should instead live as a minority in an Arab Palestine. And Peter Beinart (who participated in the J Street panel with Freedman), in his latest column at Haaretz, expressed his disagreement with Obama’s equating of anti-Zionism with anti-Zionism.

The comments by Obama and Francis seem to demonstrate the increasing acceptance of the idea that the level of hostility towards Israel expressed by the likes of J Street and Beinart – and their ideological fellow travelers in the media – is, at the very least, anti-Semitic in effect.

Further, given the exceedingly high popular support for Israel among diaspora Jews, the fact that the “debate” on whether Israel should exist or not is still given a platform within mainstream ‘progressive’ publications shows how far elements of the ‘anti-racism’ movement have strayed from their original principles.

The fact is that you can’t align yourself squarely against the rights and moral aspirations of the overwhelming majority of actual Jews and claim to be shocked when you’re accused of anti-Semitism.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of UK Media Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Damien Anonymous

    They lost being able to use or call someone antisemitic after I went over that Jewish Talmud. You know that book that calls us none jews goys, gentles, pig’s, cattle, lower than dog’s, animals, etc. Yeah, I rest my case.

  • Anti-Zionist not Anti-Semite

    Being anti-Palestinian is being anti-Semite.

  • Joseph Feld

    U.K. Media Watch must be a job and a half, with the usual suspects — BBC, The Guardian, The Independent — and one eye on Haaretz and NY Times for good measure. Although H M Govt fully supports Israel’s right of self-defense against Hamas, the loony Left seem to infiltrate the media, ignoring thousands of rockets rained on Israel over many years, and commencing reporting only when Israel finally responds.

  • Mandrake

    Adam Levick: Good writing! You do not have to be perfect. Please ignore that guy Julian who thinks readers of Algemeiner are in kindergarten and wants to brainwash them in what he thinks is right. To be pretend to be so correct and critical it would be interesting to publish the background of such individual.

  • shloime

    at least one definition of anti-semitism is holding jews to an unreasonably high standard, which is not expected of others. i suggest that barack hussein obama, when he criticized the idf’s operations in gaza as “disproportionate”, was guilty of this.

    the united states would have reacted ferociously to even ONE missile fired at the continental united states, and would never have allowed any “allies” to bully them into a ceasefire short of an unconditional surrender. and i can’t imagine the united states army sending text messages and firing warning shots ahead of a bombing campaign, the way the idf does.

    as for the pope, despite a promising start, it is still difficult to understand how he could have signed a treaty recognizing mahmoud abbas, the professional holocaust denier and the prime cause behind the flight of christians from palestinian-controlled areas, yet he has not been able to bring himself, and the vatican, to sign a similar treaty recognizing israel, even though it has been in the works for years.

    holding israel to unreasonably higher standards is a more subtle form of anti-semitism, but it is anti-semitism.

  • semite means language aramaen is/ was proto Hebrew

    Aramaens predominately ” Arabs’;

    anti semite is anti arab

    Actually original wandering habiru / Hebrews were/ are syrians arabs

    original jews were ” yadavas” – Ashkenazi are rabbinical talmudism which became Pharisees

    now todays jews are Pharisees noteven ” semitic

    • Joseph Feld

      ‘Anti-Semitism’ is a word invented in 19th Century Austria and has nothing whatever to do with Arabs. It was a political party that blamed the world’s problems on ‘the Jews’.

  • Reform School

    At the risk of being accused of redundancy, few liberal, progressive, socialist minds—now drawn to ‘journalism’ like bears to honey—were trained to think critically. Dependent upon emotional attraction and prejudice, those trained WHAT to think—rather than HOW—usually lack the ability to weigh differing points of view, in order to gradually process them into independent mindsets. They are doomed to going through life essentially little more than socialized beasts, like schools of fish, herds of sheep, flocks of birds and swarms of insects.

    Schoolteachers and professors in faculty lounges gather to echo each other between ‘classes’ that brainwash and indoctrinate the impressionable minds of their helpless students. With such mutual support and influence over the masses, is it any wonder Journalism, Education and Political Science are the hottest courses on campus?

    With today’s selective, self-serving lamestream media ‘news coverage,’ should those who noticed early-on that most words emanating day-to-day from the lips of Barack Hussein Obama are simply throwaway tools, to pass off as brilliance the fertilizer collected from the bullshed, be blamed for believing the same is true for the Pope?

  • Anti-Semitism = No Jews Here. Anti-Zionism = No Jews There.
    Anti-Semitism + Anti-Zionism = No Jews Anywhere = final solution = Nazism.

  • Jacques Bertrand

    Racism is not the issue. Anti-Semitism IS the issue. Hatred for Jews is the issue.And that should be fought with all the tools at the disposal of decent people everywhere.

    Why would Israel NOT have the right to exist ? When the enemies of Israel make that claim, they are really telling us that they wish to annihilate the Jews of the middle east and probably elsewhere as well. They wish to kill all adherents to the Jewish religion – Ashkenazi Jews , Sephardic Jews , Ethiopian Jews – the racial origin is immaterial. They want to eliminate Jews. And so ,implicitly, do those in Europe and North America on the left who argue against the existence of Israel as a sovereign state. Recognize the problem clearly , recognize the enemy clearly and fight them until they are defeated.

    And remember, the Left is the enemy of decency everywhere. Whether National Socialist , Soviet Bolshevik , Maoist , Khmer Rouge, Islamofascist – call them what you will. They all promise a kind of violent change which destroys people and justice wherever these political movements gain power. Jews,if present in the population, are always among the victims sooner or later along with many others.

    If you support Israel, you support the only country in the Middle East that maintains a just and prosperous society holding to democratic values. Remember that as you read of the many attacks on Jews and Israel.

    And in case there are questions on the matter,I am not a Jew, but merely one who recognises the great contribution of Jews to all countries which count them among their citizens.All the best to my Jewish friends throughout the world.Vive Israel !

  • Glenn Altman

    I write as a Jewish-American, Pro-Israel Progressive. My Aunt and her brother are amazing stories of holocaust survival.
    I believe in the existence of a Jewish Homeland, specifically, Eretz Yisroel. I also have substantial family numbers living in Israel. I urge, and have always urged America to support Israel

    In my opinion, American Leaders who support Israel, but differ from Israeli leadership in tactical approaches to the problems facing both countries in the world are not necessarily either anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.
    Israel’s leaders, should look to Israel’s best interest in making policy. American leaders should look to America’s best interest when making policy.

    Although there are many ways in which America’s leaders can help and support Israel, all of those ways depend upon America remaining not just a consistent ally to Israel, but a strong and credible ally. A weakened America is a less valuable ally. I do not just use the terms “Weak” and/or “Strong” in a military sense.
    America’s credibility in World Politics is an important tool in the arsenal of Power.
    Many times, America has weakened itself in the blind support of leaders and countries who should have received little or no support. Usually, those leaders were despotic, and not, in any way, analogous to Israeli leaders past or present.
    A healthy debate over tactics and methods is not abandonment, neither is it anti-Semitic nor Anti-Israel. An ally who supports whatever their friend does and the way it is done, by a knee-jerk reaction is neither strong, nor a true friend.
    Of course, over what policy and or tactics we disagree is important, and the timing and method of disagreement is critical as well. But, the act of disagreement is not traitorous.
    I am reminded (by myself) of the televised PSA; “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.: i.e. a good friend does not let his friend do whatever they want just because they are friends.
    I actually trust Prime Minister Netanyahu to formulate policy he thinks is best for his country as its elected leader; equally, I trust President Obama to do the same for America.
    Agreement is not always the best tool for creating sound policy, sometimes the pumice stone of disagreement and discussion shapes the most effective decisions.
    I am not convinced that American bombing, war or aggression against Iran is best for Israel, and I am quite certain it is not best for America.
    Remember, please, one of the principal reason extremists control Iran and its policy toward Israel and America is the stupidity and incompetence of American leaders and policy toward Iran in the 1950’s in equating the best interests of America with the demands of American oil companies.
    By the same token, we, Jews, Americans, Israelis, Progressives and Conservatives should always remember that we are united by our common goals and values and not let a reasoned and reasonable discussion of specific policies and tactics divide us and devolve into name-calling.
    Of course, the continued existence of Israel as an independent Jewish State, and the continued close friendship of the two countries are not topics for honest or reasonable debate.

  • Lynne T

    Yes, the CBC hasn’t picked up on the Pope’s pronunciation, but then they only pick news up from major English language broadcasters who, in the case of the “Abbas an angel” debacle, and English speaking reporter who trusted AFP over La Stampa.

  • Julian Clovelley

    In journalistic terms this article is an outrage, as is its headline. In neither of the quoted items from President Obama or from Pope Francis do the words Zionism and anti-Zionism seem to appear

    The article appears to me to be extrapolation to the point of distortion aimed at propaganda purposes.

    One of the most important items in the Middle East situation is the need for scrupulously accurate reporting. This article does not meet that standard – avoiding President Obama’s own expressed reservations on Israeli Government policy.

    Adam if you have to distort to this extent to press your political agenda, how can we trust your reports on anything – from your attacks on the highly respected Guardian newspaper to the findings of your monitoring service?

    Frankly I am shocked that this article was constructed by you, or passed by Algemeiner’s editorial board. It seems to be part of a campaign that is also being carried into other Jewish sources – but perhaps a little more honestly – The Times of Israel’s version says “Implicitly equating anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, Obama says that if one acknowledges an anti-Semitism that isn’t “just something in the past, but it is current…” etc.

    The key word here is “implicitly” – it is an admitted extrapolation and therefore it is arguably a propagandist distortion. But at least the Times takes a shot at being non-distortive in its text if not its Zionist propagandist headline

    Your conclusion is perhaps the greatest propagandist distortion of them all. You say “The fact is that you can’t align yourself squarely against the rights and moral aspirations of the overwhelming majority of actual Jews and claim to be shocked when you’re accused of anti-Semitism.”

    Firstly I find the sentence threatening in tone. Secondly I do not find it accurate. Your concept of “actual Jews” makes one wonder what both words in you define – Firstly, bearing in mind the sheer numbers of assimilated Jews and their dependents and descendants and the similarity in Genetic inheritance between “Jews” and “non Jews” your use of the word “Jew” is open to the need for clarification. This is further indicated by your use of the word “actual” as an adjective modifying the word “Jew”. With your ongoing support for the West Bank Settlements, one would be forgiven for thinking that to you, Adam, an “actual Jew” must be a Zionist or he isn’t “actual” enough.

    The numbers of “actual Jews” depend upon definition. You are clearly using a restricted one in order to attack your opponents in what I find is a racist defined fashion. The antisemitism in your finding is the antisemitism you yourself insert into the equation. I remind you of the famous statement that “what you get out of a sewer is rather dependent on what you put into it”

    Bluntly this is not what Journalism of integrity is about. I suggest you are confusing political campaigning and propagandising with journalism.

    A friend making a similar extrapolation of a White House media statement many decades ago during the Vietnam War came very close to being sacked by Reuters News Agency. His opinion after the event was that the agency was totally in the right and he had been totally in the wrong

    I leave it to you and Algemeiner to perhaps reach a similar conclusion. This is not “opinion” it is inaccurate presentation of alleged facts. Sincerely Adam with articles like this it is hardly surprising to me that so many “Jewish” people are voting with their feet – as did many of my family ancestors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    An honest person can only put up with so much… Come off it mate!

    • shloime

      a bit long-winded, perhaps? this article apears under the category of “commentary>>opinion”, so perhaps your comment, if comments had categories, would be classed as “rants>>irrelevant”?

      • Julian Clovelley

        I wish comment on Levick articles were never necessary – The kind of opinion and attitude he expresses creates the frustration that underlies the attraction of the BDS Movement to many people

        I found the factual distortion in the present one went one step too far (and I don’t even support BDS myself)

        In my opinion the Board of Algemeiner should be having strong words with him or at the very least sub editing his articles properly. I can accept Levick’s views as eccentric opinion

        But I don’t take a similar view to failed sub editing and the frequent disappearance of posts on certain issues

        If Algemeiner seeks to be the organ of Extreme Zionist Settlers it should say so. if not then it should restore the balance somewhat

  • Markus Brajtman


    Why has Haaretz not been closed down. They are a treasonous nespaper.
    Imagine if they had been Arabs and wrote anti Arab letters, they would have been buried long ago as traitors.

  • Historian

    Very hard to believe that Obama actually said that.. It goes against everything we as Jews know about Pres Obama .. and frankly Pope Francis is probably trying to mend fences when he called Abbas head of the Palestinian lib Organization a true man of peace.. Which is a real joke.. and he knows is wrong!!

  • Mistake: Should be anti-Semitism at end:

    And Peter Beinart (who participated in the J Street panel with Freedman), in his latest column at Haaretz, expressed his disagreement with Obama’s equating of anti-Zionism with anti-Zionism.

    //Should be “with anti-Semitism”

  • Yes, Obama and pope are Anti-Israel-Yisrael / Anti-Zionism / Very Antiseitism!!

    Am Yisrael Chai FOREVERMORE!!

  • Shakeel Ahmad

    Jews and the people of the state of Israel have the right to exist. So , Obama and Pope both should settle these Jews in USA or somewhere in Europe. They do not have the right to accept their existence in a place occupied and snatched from Muslims. what a hypocrisy and dual standards?

    • shloime

      so what arabs “occupy and snatch away” is yours to keep forever, and what jews occupy isn’t? the last time i checked, you arabs started 4 major wars, and several minor ones, against israel, and lost every one.

      instead of parroting your excuses for failure, and asserting your imaginary “rights of superiority”, maybe you should give your head a shake, and take a closer look at your prejudices!

    • Jack Kuper

      Read your history, Shakeel: Were, Jesus and King David, who lived in the land of Israel , thousands of years ago, Moslems ? You and your kind should go back to where
      you came from: Syria , Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, etc. You are the invaders and pretenders.
      Wake up, face the truth and stop fantasizing a history that has no basis of existance

      • Julian Clovelley

        Historically speaking I am unconvinced of a strong genetic connection with ancient Judea that is stronger in one group than in anyone else’s. In fact to me it is as distorting as some of those “family trees” that appear on TV in Genealogical programmes, which view ancestry as direct lineage rather than recognise its reality as an interwoven web of great complexity, linking all of mankind at some point

        The level of dispersion long ago transcended ancient boundaries – indeed I don’t see the actual origin as stemming from anything more valid than an alliance of clans in the ancient Middle East that constructed a collection of edited myths, laws, and adjusted and tailored bardic pseudo history, on which to religiously focus their unity and territorial claims. Modern Jews are of similar diverse actual origin as the other inhabitants of local European and Mediterranean regions. The direct lineage to me is a religious belief in origin, with no real basis in fact

        It seems obvious that the entire Middle East was a melting point of various religious cultures – of which Judaism was but one – and its later offshoot Christianity a second. I see no evidence for any of the Torah’s supposed historical events.

        Thus to me the religious obsessions are little more than inspiring causes of hatred and conflict. I find all of their land claims dubious.

        It is the Partition Resolution that to me is the Foundation of the State of Israel – an attempt to resolve the causes of contemporary conflict by instituting separate Governments for Jews and Palestinian Arabs. That task was never completed.

        The world sees in Israel two groups, one a Zionist group that is determinedly wed to a validation of myth as fact, and is prepared to use that myth to justify Israeli imperialism.

        The other a more progressive faction that is less obsessed with origin and more concerned about Survival and Progress for “Jews” and Israelis in the modern world.

        I see the writer of this article as firmly in the Zionist camp, which he may choose to take as a compliment

        Not everyone gets to fly over the cuckoo’s nest of parental mores and beliefs

        But I did – and as such I offer a few words of advice

        ” A house of cards will always collapse in the end. It collapses in search of stability. To avoid collapse dismantle the weak structure and build a stronger one. Religion is such a house of cards. Its defects ultimately make it a liability, and the root cause of insecurity and hatred.”

  • Jonathan Ottenstein

    Call a spade a space
    A number of people have labeled anti-zionistm as anit-semitsm

    among them some surprises
    Martin Luther King
    The Yoel Satmar Rebbe( Even though he himself was anti-zionist for other reasons he recognized that nonjews used the word zionist as a code word for jews