The Battle Surrounding "Anti-Zionism" And "Anti-Semitism"

There is a so called “anti-Semitic problem” in Britain’s Labour party, and through it, greater British politics has brought with it the agenda of stifling any debate concerning Zionism. Michael Levy, a Labour heavyweight, has even suggested that using the “Zionist” word is at present another kind of anti-Semitism, and it must not be tolerated.

Joining Levy is Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi in the United Kingdom. In a media interview, he said that Jewish students studying in British universities have suffered massive anti-Zionism, which they feel to be hatred towards Jews. Many students have complained that they were harassed in being referred to as “Zios,” an ugly, derogatory name for Jewish students and also from outside the student fraternity. There is one problem however: no proof exists of such vitriolic Jew hatred. When questioned, Mirvis said that Jews know and feel the problem. It is to be noted that many among the Jewish intelligentsia believe that there are agendas which stifle debate concerning Zionism. These attempts to forbid the word “Zionism” as it supposedly encloses anti-Semitic feelings and thoughts, makes it extremely difficult to discuss the term's political aspect from Judaism. This threatens to restrict impact upon any discussion that concerns Israel, Zionism and Judaism in the future. The result will take the form of inability to discern elements and stepping on the proverbial eggshells while doing so. A number of British Jews have already sent a response to Rabbi Mirvis’ comments through a letter to the editor of a prominent British daily. They wrote that the Rabbi has joined sensationalist allegations concerning antisemitism present in Labour party, alleging that the loud decibel level of protest is inversely proportional to the supporting evidence. They said that the Rabbi attacked the British Labour party by defending Zionism. These actions transform it from an ordinary political ideology to a religion. To many, religion is something which is beyond the question. As British Jews, they categorically rejected such an opinion.

Rabbi Mirvis has systematically attacked those who separated Zionism and Judaism. However, the fact remains that a large proportion of the Jews who perished during the holocaust were neither Zionists and nor attracted to the ideology. These line of thinking can be clearly seen in the pre-World War municipal elections in Poland, where Polish Jews stamped their votes to the secular and anti-Zionist socialists while the Zionist party got a pittance of the votes.