Zionism is derived from the word Zion, referring to the Biblical Land of Israel. In the late 19th century, Zionism emerged as a political movement to reestablish a Jewish state in Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish People. Today, Zionism refers to support for the continued existence of Israel, in the face of regular calls for its destruction or dissolution. Anti-Zionism is opposition to Jews having a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland, and denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.  


The belief that the Jews, alone among the people of the world, do not have a right to self-determination — or that the Jewish people’s religious and historical connection to Israel is invalid — is inherently bigoted. When Jews are verbally or physically harassed or Jewish institutions and houses of worship are vandalized in response to actions of the State of Israel, it is antisemitism. When criticisms of Israel use antisemitic ideas about Jewish power or greed, utilize Holocaust denial or inversion (i.e. claims that Israelis are the “new Nazis”), or dabble in age-old xenophobic suspicion of the Jewish religion, otherwise legitimate critiques cross the line into antisemitism. Calling for a Palestinian nation-state, while simultaneously advocating for an end to the Jewish nation-state is hypocritical at best, and potentially antisemitic.


No. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism (“the IHRA Definition”) — employed by governments around the world — explicitly notes that legitimate criticism of Israel is not antisemitism: “Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” [1] When anti-Zionists call for the end of the Jewish state, however, that is no longer criticism of policy, but rather antisemitism. 


The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and leadership, including founder Omar Barghouti, call for the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. [2] The BDS Movement operates under the guise of social justice and Palestinian rights, but the end goal of the movement is to undermine and eliminate Jewish rights. In addition, BDS supports “anti-normalization” — which seeks to make taboo any cooperation between Israelis and Arabs. On college campuses, this extends to urging people who see themselves as allies of the Palestinian cause to marginalize Jewish students (unless those students preemptively disavow Zionism). This can also be a form of antisemitism because it renders collaboration impossible except on Palestinian terms, removing agency from individual Jews. It is important to note, however, that while the BDS movement has antisemitic motivations, supporters of the movement are not ipso facto antisemitic; many supporters are unaware of the movement’s antisemitic foundation and mistakenly believe that BDS is a way to express their sympathy for Palestinians.

  1.  https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism
  2.  https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/bds-in-their-own-words