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Anti-Zionism versus Anti-Semitism

  • Context (TH l AJ l IE ): The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favour of a Republican-sponsored resolution which, among other things, declared that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism”.
  • The resolution was framed as an effort to reject the “drastic rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world”.

What is Zionism?

  • Zion is the name of the hill on which the Temple of Jerusalem was located.
  • Zionism is a nationalist ideology that describes the late 19th-century Jewish political movement.
  • The movement aimed to unite the Jewish diaspora worldwide and settle them in Palestine.
  • The ideology contends that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination in historic Palestine, which Zionists view as their ancestral homeland.
  • Donations from wealthy Jews were sought, which helped the Holocaust survivors to migrate to Palestine and surrounding regions.
  • This movement led to the establishment of Israel in 1948.
  • Anti-Zionism is opposition to Jews having a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland and denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

Balfour Declaration

  • The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British Government in 1917 during the First World War.
  • It announced its support for establishing a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population.

UN Resolution 181(II) of 1947

  • The question of Palestine was first brought before the General Assembly in 1947.
  • By resolution 181 (II), the Assembly decided to partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with Jerusalem placed under a special international regime.

What is Anti-Semitism?

  • Semitic means a language group, not a race.
  • Anti-Semitism can linguistically be used to describe prejudice against speakers of the Semitic languages (including Arabs and Ethiopians), but it is commonly used specifically to pertain to Jews.
  • Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews.
  • This sentiment is a form of racism, and a person who practices it is called an antisemite.

History of Anti-Semitism

  • Modern anti-Semitism exists within the context of a historical prejudice against Jews by Christians.
  • According to Christian doctrine, Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus and thus deserved to be punished.
  • During the 1870s, this political and religious anti-Semitism was compounded by racial anti-Semitism, largely due to the works of Charles Darwin.
  • Darwin’s theory of evolution was interpreted to mean that race was inherent and unchangeable, anti-Semites argued that Jews were genetically inferior on an evolutionary scale.
  • This argument was also used to justify discrimination against colonial subjects and blacks in America.
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