A protester holds a sign reading "Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism"

A protester holds a sign reading "Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism" during a November 4, 2023 demonstration in Berlin.

(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

US House to Vote on Declaring 'Anti-Zionism Is Antisemitism'

"The fact that Congress has to pass a resolution saying that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are the same thing means that people's efforts to end the conflation of the two are getting somewhere," argued one critic.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week—possibly as soon as Monday evening—on a resolution declaring that "anti-Zionism is antisemitism," a measure that Jewish peace campaigners called "deeply antisemitic."

House Resolution 894—introduced by a pair of Jewish Republicans, Reps. David Kustoff (Tenn.) and Max Miller (Ohio)—embraces the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) controversial working definition of antisemitism, which, while not explicitly mentioning anti-Zionism, includes "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination" and "claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor."

Kustoff said in a statement last Tuesday, when the measure was introduced, that "since October 7, we have seen an alarming rise in antisemitic incidents, attacks, harassment, and discrimination both in the United States and across the globe."

"Such hate has no place in our national discourse, and it is imperative leaders voice their strong opposition to these horrifying acts of violence and discrimination," he added.

"This is a cynical effort to conflate criticism of the government of Israel with antisemitism."

Many Jewish American critics, however, bristled at the conflation of hatred of Jews with opposition to Israel, a settler-colonial apartheid state with codified Jewish primacy illegally occupying and oppressing Palestine while waging what many call a genocidal war on Gaza.

"This is a cynical effort to conflate criticism of the government of Israel with antisemitism," Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the progressive political action group Indivisible, said on social media. "It's not about protecting Jews. It's about shutting down dissent. And in doing so it makes all of us less safe."

The new resolution—which details numerous recent instances of antisemitism while completely ignoring concurrently rising and sometimes violent Islamophobia sweeping the United States—resolves that the House:

  • Strongly condemns and denounces all instances of antisemitism occurring in the United States and globally;
  • Reaffirms and reiterates its strong support for the Jewish community at home and abroad;
  • Calls on elected officials and world leaders to condemn and fight all forms of domestic and global antisemitism;
  • Clearly and firmly states that anti-Zionism is antisemitism; and
  • Rejects all forms of terror, hate, discrimination, and harassment of members of the Jewish community.

Referencing the trope that anti-Zionists are antisemites and Jewish people who oppose Israel are "self-hating," the Bay Area chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace asked on social media, "So what, we're all self-hating Jews?"

The IHRA definition of antisemitism has been rejected by the scholars and other experts—many of them Jewish—behind the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, which states that while anti-Israel sentiment "could be an expression of an antisemitic animus," it could also be "a reaction to a human rights violation, or it could be the emotion that a Palestinian person feels on account of their experience at the hands of the [Israeli] state."

The modern state of Israel was established largely by ethnically cleansing over 750,000 Arabs from Palestine 75 years ago. In the decades since, Israel illegally occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, whose 2.3 million people endure periodic wars that have claimed nearly 20,000 lives—most of them in the past two months—while living and dying in what human rights defenders call the "world's largest open-air prison."

The House resolution comes as Israel intensifies its retaliatory war on Gaza, where officials say that more than 60,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israeli attacks.

Jewish Americans—from progressive left-wing activists to the Orthodox Torah Judaism movement—have been at the forefront of opposition to both Israel's war and U.S. support for it.

"Zionism is the greatest source of real antisemitism today," Jewish American filmmaker Dan Cohen said in a Monday social media post condemning "Israel's genocide of Palestinians."

"The Israel lobby and the elected representatives it controls are responsible," he added.

Dr. Eric Reinhart, a Harvard scholar, asserted that "not only is anti-Zionism not antisemitism, but a strong argument can be made that Zionism is in fact antisemitic."

"It is used to license Zionist violence against Jews who refuse to back it," he added, including "the Israeli government's recent attacks on their own anti-Zionist Jewish citizens."

Richard Beck, a senior writer at n+1, called the resolution "very dark."

"But," he added, "the fact that Congress has to pass a resolution saying that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are the same thing means that people's efforts to end the conflation of the two are getting somewhere."

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