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Anti-Zionism | Munk Debates

EPISODE #1

Anti-Zionism

Be it resolved, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

Guests
Bret Stephens
Peter Beinart

About this episode

Zionism - the Jewish right to self-determination in the land of Israel - has been the subject of heated debate since the country was first established in 1948. In recent years, opposition to Zionism has become a political lightning rod – embraced by the far left, opposed by the right. It’s a debate that is being fought on campuses, over dinner tables, and in the halls of congress. Many believe that the recent rise of anti-Zionism is used a cover for modern-day antisemitism. Critics disagree. They say that legitimate criticism of Israel and has nothing to do with discrimination against Jews.

Guests

Bret Stephens

"The overlap between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is nearly perfect."

Bret Stephens

"The overlap between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is nearly perfect."

Bret Stephens is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, a political analyst for MSNBC, a contributing columnist for Die Zeit, and a lecturer at the University of Chicago. He previously worked as the foreign-affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal and as editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.
 
Mr. Stephens is the author of America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder, released in November 2014. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including two honorary doctorates, the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, and the 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Peter Beinart

"Equating Palestinian politics with bigotry undermines the quest for peace."

Peter Beinart

"Equating Palestinian politics with bigotry undermines the quest for peace."

Peter Beinart is a Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York. He is also a Contributor to The Atlantic, a Senior Columnist at The Forward, a CNN Political Commentator and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. 
 
Beinart has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, the Atlantic, Newsweek, Slate, Reader’s Digest, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Polity: the Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Studies Association
 

Show Notes

Peter Beinart’s recent piece about anti-Zionism for The Forward

Bret Stephen’s column on this topic in The New York Times

Peter Beinart talks about Jews who are anti-Zionists. Specifically, the Satmar Hasidim, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that opposes the establishment of the state of Israel which they view as an anti-messianic act.

Jewish Voice for Peace, another anti-Zionist Jewish group, is a left-wing activist organization which seeks to change US policy towards Israel. Their goal is to eliminate US economic, political, and military aid to Israel, and stop the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Critics of JVA claim it is anti-Semitic and uses radical and questionable tactics to undermine public support for Israel. They have also been labelled as “self-hating Jews”
 
The PLO Charter, referenced by Peter Beinart, was established in 1964 and does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, or on the Gaza Strip.
 
Victor Orban, the far-right Prime Minister of Hungary, has been accused of promoting anti-Semitic tropes to promote his vision of Hungarian Nationalism. He is a public supporter Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu, and has worked to maintain a good relationship between the two countries.
 
Ilhan Omar is a U.S. freshman congresswoman who has made controversial statements about the political influence of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. In July 2019, she introduced a pro-BDS resolution in Congress, which was voted down by a margin of 398-17.
 
Peter references an Anti-Defamation League study on anti-Semitism. The 2015 poll of 19 countries found that Turkey scored the highest: 71% of its citizens hold anti-Semitic beliefs, followed closely by Greece and Iran. 10% of Americans were found to harbour anti-Jewish sentiments.
 
Both Peter and Bret spoke about the BDS movement. BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. It is a Palestinian-led campaign promoting various forms of boycotts against Israel until the country agrees to meet their demands regarding Palestinian land, self-determination and return to property. The movement is predicated on the notion that Israel is an apartheid state. Critics of BDS say Israel is not an apartheid state, and they accuse the protest movement of being anti-Semitic and promoting the delegitimization of Israel.
 
BDS advocates for a range of different types of boycotts against Israel, including business (ie/ pension funds excluding Israeli banks in their investment portfolios), academic (ie/ banning Israeli professors from participating in university conferences), and cultural (ie/ preventing Israeli plays from performing abroad).
 
A recent study from the Brookings Institution shows that the BDS movement has had little economic impact on Israel, yet there are concerns that is has altered liberal attitudes to be more critical of the Jewish state.
 
Peter Beinart references the American Jewish boycott of the Bolshoi ballet in the 1970’s, which was enacted to protest the Soviet refusal to allow Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union. The State Department opposed the boycott, believing that it would harm the already tense US relationship with the Soviet Union.