March 6, 2019 — Mercer Island, WA
Professor Paul Burstein
“Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism, 2019 Update: New Developments and New Dangers.”
Professor Burstein showed that at the beginning of the modern Zionist movement, Zionism was a call for the creation of a state for the Jewish people. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, anti-Zionism means the destruction of that state and, inevitably, the killing of many of its inhabitants. With 40% of the world’s Jews living in Israel, anti-Zionism is necessarily antisemitism.
Today’s antisemitism is especially dangerous because all three types of contemporary antisemitism–right-wing, left-wing, and Muslim–are active at the same time, with supporters of left-wing and Muslim antisemitism working together in worldwide campaigns aimed at destroying Israel. They have had great success in promoting the claim that Zionism is racism, and they are winning support for the BDS movement by falsely claiming that its aim is nothing more than ending Israeli oppression of Palestinians, when its true goal is the destruction of Israel. More and more, Western media and intellectuals are promoting the notion that Jews and Israel are somehow responsible for many of the world’s ills.
Professor Burstein spoke of how contemporary antisemitism is coming to affect us all personally, as we become uncomfortable standing up for Israel, are accused of being racists, find ourselves abandoned by long-time political allies, and find the fear and expense associated with communal security undermining Jewish life. Support for “anti-Zionism” by some Jews exacerbates rifts in the Jewish community just as claims resurface that Jews who support Israel may not be loyal Americans.
Thank you to Northwest Yeshiva High School and Island Synagogue for hosting, and to AJC Seattle’s Antisemitism Task Force, and AJC Seattle Board Member Professor Paul Burstein for his hard work, dedication and personal commitment in relaying these important messages with perspective and context in hopes of calling attention to and combating antisemitism in our midst.