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Opinion | Debates Over Words Amid War: ‘Antisemitism,’ ‘Anti-Zionism,’ ‘Apartheid’

Admin By Admin Nov25,2023

To the Editor:

Re “The Question of Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism,” by Charles M. Blow (column, Nov. 16):

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, adopted by dozens of countries around the world, indeed does define anti-Zionism as antisemitism. It cites as an example of antisemitism: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

That the Jewish people deserve the right of self-determination, after the Holocaust and the persecution throughout Arab lands for centuries, was resolved in 1948. To debate Zionism is precisely the problem facing the Jews today and most especially Israelis who live in an absurd world in which the nature of their birthright is called into question, as every single Israeli is born of Zionism.

How ironic that in this day and age in the United States, where every minority is protected and words matter more than ever, it is somehow acceptable to define oneself as anti-Zionist, even if Jewish. It is offensive, absurd and deeply antisemitic.

As an American Israeli, I cannot stress enough how toxic this concept is to Israelis and how it does nothing to help the cause of peace today.

Rebecca Rose
Saugerties, N.Y.
The writer is the director of North American affairs for the Combat Antisemitism Movement.

To the Editor:

Charles Blow quoted the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, as saying, “Zionism is fundamental to Judaism.” Respectfully, I must disagree.

Judaism’s core strength is its portability, which has allowed it to survive, against punishing odds, for more than 2,500 years. It is tied to faith and peoplehood, not real estate.

That belief doesn’t make me an anti-Zionist, but it does make me a non-Zionist. My faith may have been created on land within the borders of the state of Israel, but it has been shaped by many forces and people around the globe over the years. And my cultural roots as a Jew lie in Eastern Europe, where all my great-grandparents were born.

(Rabbi) Ellen Jaffe-Gill
Virginia Beach

To the Editor:

Charles Blow mentions that Amnesty International calls Israel’s government an “apartheid regime.” Under South African apartheid, Black people were not citizens of South Africa and, as such, could not vote in elections or serve in its Parliament, could not be treated in hospitals that were reserved for white people, and could not attend the same schools and universities as white people. These are just a few of the indignities suffered by Black people in apartheid South Africa.

None of these harsh discriminatory practices apply to Palestinian Arabs in Israel, where Palestinians make up about 20 percent of Israel’s citizens. They can vote in the country’s elections and have representatives they have elected to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, can attend Israel’s fine universities, and can work in or be treated in Israel’s hospitals.

Mr. Blow owes it to his readers to correct Amnesty International’s false labeling of Israel as an apartheid state instead of spreading its calumny.

Steven L. Weiss
Princeton, N.J.

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