Zionism, The State of Israel & the Rise of Antisemitism
The topics of Israel, Zionism and antisemitism are extremely difficult to address due to the fact that people lump together a number of highly charged concepts which should be viewed and analyzed separately. The issue is further complicated by the dismal level of historical and geopolitical understanding that the average American possesses and by the fact that there are extremists elements on both sides which cannot tolerate even the most even handed and rational criticisms. It's impossible to debate the morality of Zionism or Israel's actions when people form their opinions on the topic based on mainstream propaganda, and it's impossible to widen a person's perspective or expose them to the facts when the issue has been reduced to an emotional knee jerk reaction.
We need to establish some basic premises here if we are going to have any sane discussion. First of all Zionism is an ideology, it is not an ethnicity or a race, or even a national identity. There are a very large number of non-Jewish Zionists, and there is a contingent of anti-Zionist Jews including the outspoken scholar Norman Finkelstein and the orthodox Jewish organization "NETUREI KARTA" which take a very strong stance against Zionism and the state of Israel. Whether you agree or disagree with their position, one thing should be very clear: Zionism is not Judaism, and it is not a position that all Jews agree with. This is a very very important distinction to make, because there are extremists on both sides of this debate which intentionally treat Zionism, Judaism and the Jewish people as one entity. Those who defend Zionism use this to then assert that anyone who speaks out against the ideology of Zionism and the actions of its adherents are anti-Semitic, and those who are truly anti-Semitic use the actions of the Zionists to justify their hatred of the Jewish people. The result of both of these false associations is hatred, and that hatred blinds people and makes them incapable of thinking and acting rationally.
Real antisemitism is beginning to grow and spread across the internet right now at an alarming rate. These elements are becoming bolder and more aggressive and are starting to openly use terms like "the Jewish problem" and the "Jewish conspiracy". I view this trend as extremely disturbing and problematic, and I condemn this kind of language whenever I encounter it, however it's important to understand that those who treat any critique of the Israeli government and its policies as antisemitism are adding fuel to this hatred. Calling any criticism of the Israeli government Anti-Semitic is the equivalent of calling any criticism of the U.S. government anti-Christian or anti-white. This is clearly a logic fallacy, and it is one that plays into the hands of racists and xenophobes.
Those who are using Anti-Semitic terms such as the "Jewish Problem" or the "Jewish Conspiracy" are not a single homogenous group. There are those who are outright neo-Nazis and who are proud to wear the name, there are others who are deeply angry because of the policies of the state of Israel and mistakenly assign the blame for those policies to the entire Jewish people, and then there are those who make these kinds of statements because they mistakenly assume that the crimes of a few high powered banker families such as the Rothchilds can be taken as a reflection of the entire Jewish people. Most people in these last two categories who don't think of themselves as neo-Nazis, and who don't want to be labeled as neo-Nazis, but the fact of the matter is that if you use this kind of overtly racist language that's exactly how the majority of the population is going to view you. Moreover speaking in these terms will instantly invalidate the rest of what you have to say for most people.
Now on the other hand Zionism itself presents it's own set of problems. If Zionism were merely a belief system it would hardly be worth the controversy which surrounds it, however Zionism is not just a belief system; it has been merged with political policy and has become one of the key driving forces behind events in the Middle East. Those who don't have a developed understanding of what is really happening in Palestine, and who have never been exposed to the war crimes which have been committed by self proclaimed Zionists may not understand the implications of attaching Zionism to the Jewish identity. If you haven't been exposed to this kind of information, then to hear it described by me would not convince you of anything, but if you really want to understand what is at stake here then I would encourage you to take some time to research the real history of the occupation of Palestine in detail. Research the Shatila massacre, research the expulsion of the Palestinians during the Israeli expansion, and research the bombardment of Gaza and the use of white phosphorous on civilians. Once you see the full picture of what has been done in the name of Zionism it should be clear that attaching such a contentious ideology to the ethnic identity of the Jewish people is a mistake, and it's a mistake that could have extremely negative consequences for all Jews, including Jews who aren't Zionists and who do not support the state of Israel at all.
Another thing that should also be clarified here is that it is unfair to focus on the actions of the state of Israel while ignoring the much larger crimes being committed by the United States and NATO all across the Middle East especially since it very likely that if the U.S. and NATO would change their stance on the region Israel would follow suit. The problem is not a specific nationality or an ethnic group, the problem is the lack of respect for basic human rights and the distorted world view that people acquire when their primary source of information is the mainstream media. Right now we live in an age where human rights are given lip service when it suits the politicians and ideologues, but these rights are divvied out selectively and in a manner that treats entire cultures as subhuman. The solution to this problem is not going to be found in condemnation but rather in education particularly in regards to the non-aggression principle, and that education will only be possible if people are willing to reevaluate their world view and adjust it to match the facts.