Steve Apfel
Steve ApfelCourtesy

It took a cataclysmic event to blow the cover on anti-Zionism. The planetary outcry, “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” is no rallying call for the defense or liberation of home and country. Trafalgar Square in London was not jam-packed with compatriots of Gaza. No Palestinian Arabs are exiled in Cape Town.

“From the river to the sea” is a battle cry, not to liberate ‘Palestine’ but to conquer Israel. Maddened by the mantra ‘Genocide’ the mass hysteria and ferocity make no bones about the sought-after conquest. A member of the United Nations must not be defeated but vanquished, and six million Jews (that number again) purged from the region. Such a thing can be accomplished no other way than by dispersion and elimination. Hence the unrelenting clamor is to work people and nations up into a Holocaust-committing fury.

Surely though, not every anti-Zionist aspires to a Holocaust. What of the non-violent, non-chanting dreamy element in favor of a melting pot country of every religion under the sun. “Don’t Equate Anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitismsays the title of that brave idea. True enough the subtitle conveys not the ghost of a hint that the Jewish author has genocide in mind. “It is not anti-Semitic to want equal rights for all in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, in Gaza, in Ramallah.

“Critics of Israel” for their part can throw a more difficult curveball than anti-Zionists can. What makes the critics less clear cut is the daylight they make between disliking Israel and disliking the policies Israel adopts. Here are two critics, involved Jews, and the one a foremost academic in America. Asks the first critic, and responds to his own question:

“Is it inherently antisemitic to criticise Israel? It may depend on who you ask”

The arguments made seem quite genuine.

“Critics rightly argue the Israeli government should be held accountable for its policies and decisions. This tension has fuelled debate over what constitutes antisemitism. In particular, when and if criticism of Israel crosses the line into antisemitism, how can you tell if it has or hasn’t, and how can it be negotiated in public discourse without descending into kneejerk responses and self-censorship.”

Many a rule of thumb has proven to be a thumb suck. But the rule of thumb that a panel of experts debating an issue will shed more darkness than light on it is quite virtually a law of nature.

Gender guru, Professor Judith Butler, our next brave critic, long ago wrote an essay addressing the question posed by the first critic. Indeed the two of them might as well have sat on a panel together. Her work is simply titled no-it-s-not-anti-semitic. Celebrated for her verbosity and academic ‘speak’, Butler will have to tolerate my paring down and paraphrasing her incisive opening summation.

The President of Harvard, Larry Summer, declared that to criticise Israel and call on colleges to divest from it are “actions that are antisemitic in their effect if not their intent”. He thereby created two sorts of antisemitism. One is unintentional and the other intentional. Making this distinction deals a blow against academic freedom. Although he insisted that he’s in favour of Israeli policy being ‘debated freely and civilly’, his words freeze political discourse. Among the actions he regards as ‘unintentionally’ antisemitic’ are: (1) European boycotts of Israel. (2) Rallies at which Israel is criticised. (3) Fund-raising efforts for anti-Israel organisations, and (4) Divestment petitions drafted by MIT and Harvard faculty that oppose Israeli occupation and treatment of Palestinians. Though he claimed that Israel’s foreign and defence policy should be vigorously challenged, he was unclear how that would be done without being construed as anti-Israel.

Calling for divestment is not, he thinks, a legitimate type of ‘vigorous challenge’. The problem is that we are not given criteria by which to adjudicate between a vigorous challenge that can be articulated and one that can’t be because it is antisemitic even though maybe unintentionally so

Hence my prognosis on expert panellists: the audience departs more uncertain than when it arrived.

So far we don’t know what is and what is not antisemitic. The next title looks promising in that regard. Again The Atlantic showcases one of its Jewish writers. His title is, “How to Be Anti-Semitic and Get Away With It” Here’s an article that should bring a smile to the face because the photo montage saves the reader the chore of reading another damn thing. .2/

The first anti-Semites in the photo are the two ‘white nationalists’ the Left loves to hate. If Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson really are Jew-haters then Jews have nothing to worry about. https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/372166 . Bringing up the antisemitic rear are Turkey’s President Erdoğan and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khomeini. My My.

There is not one Ivy League president. Black Kanye West is missing. So is Muslim Louis Farrakhan. Jewish globalist George Soros is nowhere in that photo which also contains none of the American elect: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib. In fact the far Left as a whole escapes unscathed.

In short the article is revealed to be a propaganda stunt by a vacuous retro-progressive. But don’t write him off entirely; he has crystallized what it is that allows antisemites to get away with murder: who is one and who is not depends on the jaundiced eye of the beholder.

Fortunately a small minority of professors have kept their intellects intact. Among them is David Bernstein Professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. If only he were as patient as he is candid Bernstein would have led us to the terminal truth about antisemites. As it is he jumped off the bus too soon.

Critics of Israel have wondered why the professor of law did not engage with them over Israeli policies. He explains why:

“Debates over specific Israeli policies are a sideshow. Israel's harshest critics simply want Israel to cease to exist. (Such a) goal could be achieved only through genocide, so I chose to focus my attention on that. I was being paranoid, they argued. The vast majority of critics of Israel, even the harshest, they claimed, want a two-state solution, not to eliminate Israel.”

At this point Bernstein all but gets to the truth about antisemites:

“Critics of Israeli policy would agree on one thing: Hamas must be deposed one way or another. There is no plausible two-state solution with Hamas in power. Yet, ever since Oct 7 when it became clear that Israel was not going to capitulate, critics of Israeli policy have been near unanimous in calling for Israel to essentially surrender to Hamas ("immediate ceasefire"). They have almost to a person not called on Hamas to surrender and abdicate. I have to admit that I underestimated the mendacity of these people. As much as I knew they hated Israel much more than they were concerned with the well-being of Palestinians, but I did not imagine they would be willing to interfere for, and even outright support, Hamas – certainly not after it put its brutality and genocidal intentions on display for all to see. I would have expected something more like "immediate ceasefire, but the world has to work on replacing Hamas with something else."

“If you ask prominent folks on X, people who are complaining the loudest about civilian suffering in Gaza, "Would you prefer the war go on, or that Hamas releases the hostages and surrender," basically no one is willing to say publicly that they would prefer Hamas to surrender. Israel losing is more important to them than ending civilian suffering in Gaza, or releasing the hostages.”

One station further and Professor Bernstein would have arrived at the truth. Instead he jumped off the bus – prematurely because we are not mind-readers. Motives or intentions remain speculative. We can judge people only by the inescapable consequence of their actions. Why A threw B into a shark tank can never be fully known. A took B’s life, and this is the be all and end all of guilt.

Whoever demands immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza is throwing Jews into a shark tank. Hamas will survive to keep the vow it made to commit Oct 7 again and again. An emboldened Hezbollah will attack the surrendered Israel and, to cap it all, Iran will enter the jamboree by firing a nuclear warhead. Game over.

Whether it be the UN Secretary General or the Rabbi of your particular temple or the EU President, or Joe Biden on his campaign trail, or BDS, or Amnesty International: it matters not. Whosoever tells Israel to stop fighting expects and anticipates Jews to be killed. That is sufficient in and of itself to declare the person or the entity antisemitic. Dead Jews make antisemitic dreams come true.

Author’s note

For my earlier works on the subject go to:

1.“Hadrian’s Echo”. (Now only on Kindle) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007PIVM6G/

2. https://enemiesofzion.wordpress.com/2023/06/15/for-countering-anti-semitism-the-gold-standard-is-dead-long-live-the-impossible-standard/

3. “Making antisemitism complex has failed to fight it.” https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/382338

Steve Apfel is an authority on anti-Zionism and a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction. His blog, ‘Balaam’s curse,’ is followed in 15 countries on 5 continents