Here’s how to talk about Israel without sliding into antisemitism | The Independent
Avoid saying “Zionist” or “Zionism” when discussing contemporary Israel/Palestine. The terms are too loaded now, too coarse and broad in their application, and too often used by hardcore antisemites to mean simply Jews.
Benjamin Netanyahu is a Zionist, but so are Israeli lawyers and peace activists fighting to achieve justice for Palestinians. You cannot lump them all together. Fair enough when talking historically, as long as you’re informed and precise, but for the present day, I recommend using specific terms instead, such as “the Israeli government” or “Netanyahu”.
Misled again by the arbiters of anti-semitism
Schneider has lost no time in revealing the nub of the problem with his guide. He is a liberal Zionist, and understandably he feels uncomfortable being lumped in with Netanyahu. But the primary goal of Palestinians and their supporters isn’t to make Schneider or other liberal Zionists feel comfortable with their political views or to comply with their demand that “legitimate” criticism of Israel be restricted to Netanyahu.
Yes, some anti-semites may use “Zionist” as code for “Jew”. But Schneider is demanding his cake and eating it in insisting that the core ideology driving Israeli policy towards the Palestinians for more than seven decades be declared largely unmentionable.
Zionism wasn’t just a historical prelude to Israel’s creation, some anachronism to be deposited in a museum. All the major political parties in Israel still firmly define themselves as Zionist. It is at the core of their political programmes, meaning that they share much common ground. The parties are often divided chiefly about how to achieve their political goals, not what those goals are.
So, in other words, there is no way to understand or critique Israel’s political system, or the nature of its abuses of Palestinians, or the ideology espoused by its supporters abroad, without analysing Zionism and its aims.
Schneider’s formula makes as much sense as demanding back in the 1980s that “legitimate criticism” of South Africa not address the country’s overarching apartheid ideology but be reserved specifically for P W Botha and his government. Following Schneider’s advice would make useful, reasoned criticism of Israel impossible.