Guardian op-ed defends the view that Israel has no right to exist.

Let's remember that Zionism is the simple recognition that Israel has a right to exist.  Anti-Zionism is the belief that Israel doesn't have a right to exist and shouldn't exist. It's not a theoretical discussion, but a radical campaign which seeks the destruction of an actually existing nation-state.  Further, anti-Zionists such as Khalidi don't say nation-states shouldn't exist.  They say that only the Jewish state shouldn't exist.

The headline of a Guardian op-ed by Ahmad Samih Khalidi (Siding with the Palestinian struggle is not antisemitic), extracted from text, is of course a straw man, as nobody claims that merely “siding with the Palestinians” is antisemitic.  Khalidi, a former adviser to both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, has a broader goal, to defend those who object to the continued existence of a Jewish state, based on the “profound injustice” at the root of Zionism.

In an effort to legitimise his anti-Zionism, Khalididi grossly misleads by claiming that “Jewish opposition to Zionism has a long and distinguished history”.  In fact, whilst there was a lively debate before Israel declared independence on the question of Zionism, today, Jewish opposition to the living, breathing state of Israel represents a minuscule, politically irrelevant fringe.

Khalidi further charges that the “insidious goal of the ‘anti-anti-Zionist’ campaign is to silence the Palestinians and their supporters”, which would only hold true if you characterise as “silencing” attempts to delegitimise extremists who wish to wipe the world’s only Jewish state off the map.

Following a brief moral throat clearing on the legitimacy of fighting ‘real’ antisemitism, Khalidi then suggests that Jews are only “pretending to be offended” by expressions of hostility towards Israel’s existence by Corbyn and his defenders.

In an attempt to justify his anti-Zionist stance, Khalidi then cites a laundry list of so-called Israeli ‘massacres’ since 1948. This includes an “Israeli massacre” in Lydda in 1948 that never in fact occurred, and an equally fictitious “massacre” of Egyptian prisoners during the Six Day War in 1967.  Likewise, Khalidi charges Israel with “shooting down a Libyan civilian aircraft in 1973”, without mentioning that the incident was widely understood to have been caused by Libyan pilot error and miscommunication, and that it actually elicited very little international criticism.

However, the broader problem with Khalidi’s allegations, as is the case with so many rhetorical assaults on Israel’s legitimacy in the Guardian, is that, in his condemnation of Israeli violence, he completely erases the context of Arab war, terror and rejectionism. In his myopic tale of Israeli villainy, it’s as if Arabs and Palestinians don’t exist at all, or at least not in any meaningful sense that would suggest they posses moral agency, and that the decisions they’ve made over the last 70 years have had a profound impact on their current predicament.   

Finally, let’s remember what exactly Zionism is, and what anti-Zionism is.

Zionism is the simple recognition that Israel has a right to exist.  Anti-Zionism is the belief that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist and shouldn’t exist. It’s not a theoretical discussion, but a radical campaign which seeks the destruction of an actually existing nation-state.  Anti-Zionists such as Khalidi don’t say nation-states shouldn’t exist.  They say that only the Jewish state shouldn’t exist.  Anti-Zionism also necessarily disregards and is hostile to the values and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of Jews in the UK and around the world.

Though, as Khalidi argues, siding with the Palestinian struggle is not inherently antisemitic, the struggle against the continued existence of the world’s only Jewish state most certainly is. 

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