Tactics in the fight over “Zionism”

War of words in the war for justice
War of words in the war for justice

There is a fight over “Zionism”, over the meaning of the word “Zionism”.

Words are important because social opinion and attitude mobbing has a strong influence on domestic and foreign politics. There is a constant war of words, which plays on the concepts of taboo, decency, social acceptance, identity, pathology, and so forth.

One such war that is in full furry at present is the war over the meaning of “Zionism”. It is playing out in the elite media, in the parliaments of nations, and in the criminal courts.

At one extreme, “Zionism” is the benign truism that “Israel has a right to exist”, where the later phrase simply means that it would be immoral, indecent, illegal… to unilaterally dissolve the state of Israel and to drive away all occupants from indigenous territory taken by Israel using force and intimidation.

The benign definition of “Zionism” is defended by Israel itself and by the Israel lobbies in Western countries including the USA, Canada, France, UK, Australia… These special-interest networks and Israel argue that the definition of “Zionism” has been perverted and that the term has evolved into a code word as part a growing “new antisemitism”.

As such, the loaded weapon of “The Holocaust” (the Nazi holocaust) is being brought to bear in order to incapacitate the “anti-Zionist” or “pro-Palestinian rights” movement. The Holocaust is home base because the impact of the accusation of antisemitism derives from the maintained mental image of the Nazi holocaust, just as the impact of the accusation of racism derives from the USA crime against humanity that was Black slavery and from the Euro-holocausts in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

At the other extreme, “Zionism” means Israel’s actual state practice and policy of “cleansing”, of annexing territory by war, occupation, apartheid, displacements, settlement, “mowing the grass”… in order to establish a religious state on an increasing and cleansed territory. The false pretext for the on-going “cleansing” is twofold: (1) the Jewish people have a right to a religious state, and (2) that state cannot otherwise be viable and able to protect itself in a world that would annihilate it from within and without.

Because of Israel’s apparent viciousness, the latter extreme meaning of “Zionism” has become a rallying call to impede or reverse Israel’s practice of systematic human rights violations; from the violence of everyday occupation and apartheid, and forced collaboration, to indiscriminate murder, imprisoning rock-throwing children, home demolitions, and military massacres.

In that sense, therefore, the Israel lobbies are correct in ascertaining that the word “Zionism” has acquired a powerful contextual meaning. The Israeli response has been to attack the word, to attempt to tar it with antisemitism, which in turn is buoyed by Holocaust imagery, which is referred to as “memory”.

The attack has been a formidable campaign, aimed at the elite managers: the parliamentarians, the judges, the mainstream media leaders, the university professors, the professional classes… The campaign includes publicized witch hunts against targeted public intellectuals and propagandized “hate crime” criminal prosecutions against insignificant bloggers. It includes every manner of editorial comment and bogus parliamentary commission, and on and on.

All this is anchored in more Holocaust museums, holocaust pilgrimages, and “friendship trips” to Israel than you can shake a stick at. The methods of the lobbies have been meticulously spelled out in Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s landmark book “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering”.

As a result of the combined effects of the Israeli campaign and the frequent use of the word by Palestinian rights advocates, Israel has largely won the battle in the professional and managerial circles. “Zionism” is starting to have a negative ring to it in the mouths of human rights activists.

I propose a solution, a tactic of circumvention. Rather than defend the chosen extreme meaning of “Zionism” and engage in the war of words, activists could simply admit that “Zionism” contains both meanings and choose to be more specific by using the term “Zionist terrorism”.

In analogy with Israel’s adoption of the term “Islamic terrorism” [1], “Zionist terrorism” should be defined as:

Zionist terrorism is defined as any state or non-state terrorist act, set of acts or campaign committed by Israel or groups or individuals protected by Israel who profess nationalistic or Jewish motivations or goals. Zionist terrorists justify their violent tactics through interpreting the Torah or Israeli nationalism according to their own goals and intentions.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_terrorism, accessed on 2017-03-04.


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