Ali Abunimah’s Orwellian Definition of Anti-Semitism

Veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah is currently touring US campuses to hawk his recently published book “The Battle for Justice in Palestine.” As anyone even vaguely familiar with Abunimah’s prolific writings at his Electronic Intifada blog will know, his idea of “justice in Palestine” requires doing away with the world’s only Jewish state, and the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns against Israel that he champions so tirelessly are designed to help achieve this goal.

Among those who have enthusiastically endorsed Abunimah’s new book is Columbia University professor Joseph Massad, who also introduced Abunimah at one of his recent book tour events at Columbia University. In case anyone in the audience was concerned that Abunimah’s agenda and activism is ultimately anti-Semitic, Massad was ostensibly eager to allay such concerns: as a student attending the event highlighted on Twitter, Massad described Abunimah as “a fighter against antisemitism.” Given the fact that some of Massad’s own writings on Israel echo ideas and language that can be found on racist and neo-Nazi sites such as David Duke or Stormfront, it is downright preposterous for Massad to claim any expertise on anti-Semitism except as an avid practitioner.

Needless to say, Massad would firmly reject this accusation. However, he would do so primarily on the basis of the bizarre notion that anti-Israel activists are entitled to their very own self-serving definition of anti-Semitism – a notion that Ali Abunimah fully supports.

Already years ago, Abunimah made it abundantly clear that he not only regarded Zionism as “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today,” but that he also equated Zionism with Nazism.

Abunimah Zionism AntiSemitism

Abunimah Zionism Nazism

At the end of 2012, Abunimah eventually decided that it was time to formalize his views on anti-Semitism and have his fellow anti-Israel activists adopt a truly Orwellian declaration that pretends to reject “any form of racism or bigotry […] including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Zionism” and that denounces at the same time “the cynical and baseless use of the term anti-Semitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism.”

As a result of this transparent attempt to resurrect the infamous UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, anti-Israel activists like to argue that considering any criticism of Israel anti-Semitic is actually evidence of anti-Semitism, because it supposedly implies the “false generalization” that “simply because someone is Jewish, they support Zionism or the colonial and apartheid policies of the state of Israel.”

Similarly preposterous views were expressed by Masssad in an Al Jazeera column published last year that was denounced  by the prominent commentator Jeffrey Goldberg as “one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.” Massad claimed there that

“Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle […] They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognising Israel’s anti-Semitic claims [i.e. Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state].”

It was in this perverted sense that Massad praised Abunimah as “a fighter against antisemitism.” But while Abunimah obviously understood perfectly well what Massad had in mind, too few outside the circles of professional anti-Israel activists realize that in the Orwellian world of these activists, Zionism is anti-Semitism, whereas campaigning for the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state is an imperative derived from the “lessons of the Holocaust” and thus evidence of opposition to anti-Semitism.

Is there another form of racism or bigotry that can be so openly perverted and so shamelessly championed on US campuses?