The False Argument on Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg saw “fascist instincts” at work earlier this year when the US Department of Homeland Security separated children from adult illegal immigrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border. I too found the family separation policy heartless, though I am not sure that Goldberg’s application of the pejorative “fascist” helped.
Italy’s Mussolini, the godfather of fascism, threw political enemies into concentration camps — but without first separating children from their parents. On the other hand, relentless Nazi death trains full of Jewish children with their parents occupied their own unique universe of horror far beyond America’s border separations.
Now, in a peculiar footnote to the notorious 1975 UN Resolution that “Zionism equals racism,” Goldberg has reentered the terminological wars with a column assuring readers, many of them Jews, that “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”
As a historian, I must remind Goldberg that the Times later had to blush in embarrassment for a Christmas-time 1924 story assuring readers that “Heir Hitler,” released from Landsberg Prison, was “tamed” and no longer a threat to Jews or anybody else.
Maybe that mistake was an innocent aberration — but not so the systematic Times coverage by Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty during the 1930s, in which the paper airbrushed Stalin’s man-made Ukrainian famine. This doesn’t even begin to mention the journalistic shame of 1933-1945, documented by Laurel Leff’s Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper. As Holocaust scholar Dr. Michael Berenbaum put it about the Times’ coverage, “as the death toll grows, the headlines shrink.”
In 1946, the Times provided a fawning interview with SS-allied war criminal Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, allowing him to vent his anti-Zionist venom. Then, in 1947, the Times editorially supported the UN’s 1947 Palestine Partition Resolution, but apparently only to shore up shaky American support for the fledgling UN. Finally, the Times refused to endorse Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, preferring not to name the new state of “Israel” in its columns.
Current-day Israel, with millions of Muslim and Christian citizens, somehow fails to live up to Goldberg’s standard for membership in good standing in the club of “multiethnic pluralist” democracies. So be it. Although one wonders how many Eastern or Western nations fully do. The truth, unfortunately, is that real or feigned ignorance of “The Final Solution” and virulent hostility towards Jews and Israel are not only kissing cousins, but twins. And anti-Zionism is just a 21st century disguise of antisemitism.
Alas, the argument “anti-Zionism is not antisemitism” has moved from a provocative talking point to a sacred text in the mind of born-again anti-Zionist ideologue Peter Beinart. Beinart scolded President Obama for saying a few years ago in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic that the twin evils of antisemitism and anti-Zionism must both be combated. In Obama’s words, “If … you acknowledge the justness of the Jewish homeland, you acknowledge the active presence of anti-Semitism — that it’s not just something in the past, but it is current — if you acknowledge that there are people and nations that, if convenient, would do the Jewish people harm because of a warped ideology.”
A newly-elected anti-Zionist Democratic “sisters’ caucus” in the US — comprised of Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, and New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who emphasizes her Sephardic ancestry to criticize the Jewish state) — may be in the making. Will these women become known, not only as anti-Clinton, but also anti-Obama Democrats for their troubling anti-Zionism that is gathering traction on American college campuses, as well as worldwide?
Perhaps we now need to add to this sisters’ chorus Michelle Goldberg.
Today, as to Israel, one cannot say regarding The New York Times that “the Emperor has no clothes.” She is all dressed up in the lies of antisemitic anti-Zionism.
Dr. Brackman is a long-time consultant on global antisemitism and racism for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.