I make no bones about it, being a bigot, whether it is in the form of racism or anti-Semitism is fundamentally wrong. There can be no exceptions to this. Ken Livingstone's foolish comments have led, rightly in my opinion, to his being suspended from the Labour Party. Inserting Hitler's name into his response was a grave error no matter the historical facts. Putting Hitler in the same sentence as Judaism is bound to raise eyebrows. Hitler, after all, sanctioned the holocaust. That said, I don't believe for a minute Ken Livingstone is any of the above. He is not racist nor anti-semitic. He may be anti-Zionist but then again so are a great many faithful Jews.
Undeniably, Livingstone has been appallingly stupid. Even if his comments were historically correct they nonetheless were ill-conceived. His comments deserve an unreserved apology from him. He has been doubly stupid in gifting the right and centre of politics with such insidious propaganda.
Some months ago a blog friend and I had a heated debate. He suggested disliking Jews was racism. I said it wasn't as being a Jew is of belonging to a faith and someone who dislikes Jews is, therefore, anti-Semitic. He insisted I was wrong.
I thought, and still do, that my blog friend was using a lazy, inaccurate insult. It was as if by calling someone racist he added weight to his argument. As far as I was concerned he wasn't. Being anti-Semitic is equally as bad as being racist.
I asked another friend, a Jewish man if he was of another race. Being white, born in Stepney, East London, he initially looked at me to see if I were joking. Seeing I wasn't his face altered.
"Are you being serious Russ? I'm just like you, white English. It is what I write on those silly forms they ask you to fill in regarding your ethnicity when you request a passport. I'm a cockney. My parents were cockneys. Both were white. My forebears were European Jews, Yiddish. You were brought up Christian. I was brought up a Jew. It is my religion, my faith. Don't be a meshugana."
I was grateful for his clarity but chose to research a little more on the subject. I found it confounding that I could dislike Zionism yet like Jews. You see, in my mind, being anti-Zionist is not being anti-semitic. It actually isn't and there is sufficient evidence to prove it.
So then what is Zionism?
Theodor Herzl (a European Jew) founded the movement in 1896. His aim was the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael. The fabled homeland of Jews - Zion by another name. Zion is the hill upon which the Temple of Jerusalem sits. He wasn't the first Jew to promote Zionism. Yehuda Bibas and Judah ben Solomon Chai Alkalai were eminent forerunners.
Herzl was a secular Jew. That is not necessarily one who follows the Torah. Not one who believes that the Messiah needs to return to lead the Jews to their promised land but one who believes in the emancipation of all Jews without divine intervention. This form of Judaism is roundly criticised by Rabbis throughout the last hundred years. Virtually all of the great leaders of Judaism have, and still do, oppose Zionism. This from Shiurei Rabbeinu Meshulem Dovid Halevi....
"The Zionists claimed that they would save the Jews from government persecution [in Russia], and already then Rabbi Chaim Brisker, of blessed memory, said that their entire purpose in founding a state was in order to have a way to uproot the Torah from the Jewish people and to transform them into a nation like all other nations. Their purpose was not at all to benefit the Jewish people. And today we see the “great benefit” of the state: there was never so much anti-Semitism and hatred toward the Jews in the entire world as there is today. And ever since this state was founded, Jewish blood has been spilled here in rivers, because the evil inclination, the Satan and the Angel of Death are all one and the same. Zionism is the evil inclination, and therefore it is also the Angel of Death. But the number of casualties doesn’t bother anyone; they continue life as usual. When America fought against Iraq they cared about every soldier, and in the end, they discovered that a total of about 40 soldiers were killed in the war itself, and a few dozen more from Scud missiles. And at first they fought only from the air to avoid casualties. That’s how important it was not to have casualties, even though America is a big country with millions of people, and the war was important to them – still they were careful not to lose soldiers. But here in the Holy Land people are constantly getting wounded and killed, and thousands upon thousands of young people have already died in the Zionists’ wars, yet nobody cares.
The explanation of this is based on the Gemara in Kesubos 111a, that the Jewish people were made to swear not to go up as a wall and not to rebel against the nations of the world, and the Gemara says there, “The Holy One, blessed is He, said to Israel: If you keep the oath, good, but if not, I will declare your flesh ownerless like the gazelles and deer of the field.” That’s exactly the situation today. Since they have violated these oaths – they came up as a wall and they rebelled against the nations, Jewish blood has become literally ownerless, like the animals of the field. No one pays attention to the tens and hundreds of Jews who are slaughtered here in the Holy Land.
And there are no bounds to the wickedness and audacity of the Zionists in their provocations against the nations of the world. Recently it happened that on the day the American secretary of state arrived in Eretz Yisroel, they established a new settlement, to teach him that they will not succeed in stopping them from doing this. This was only done for the purpose of aggravating and provoking. Couldn’t they have waited a little? And then they complained that their ministers were not honored properly in America. But I say that the Americans are doing them a big kindness by not kicking them out of America, because the rest of the world is opposed to Israel – Russia and all the European countries - and the Americans with great difficulty support them, and yet they provoke the Americans with such chutzpah and arrogance."
For me, this proves categorically that being anti-Zionist is not being anti-Semitic and definitely not racist. Disliking what effectively is a movement that ensnares then enslaves working class Jews into a right wing authoritarian state is not anti-Jew. It is the reverse. It is in support of those who find themselves under the boot heels of an oppressive, war-mongering hierarchy. It is perfectly legitimate to dislike the nation of Israel for its political stance yet remaining equanimous.to Jews. It is perfectly legitimate to raise your voice in protest against the occupation of Palestine. It is perfectly legitimate to seek an end to the slaughter of innocent women and children. It is perfectly acceptable to pursue a peaceful end to a conflict that is taking human lives. For further quotes from devout, orthodox Jews regarding Zionism visit this site - http://www.truetorahjews.org/tags/rabbinic-quotations.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.