Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House
By Bret Stephens
New York Times
December 13, 2018
In 2002, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of
Hezbollah, was said to have given a speech noting that the creation of the state
of Israel had spared his followers the trouble of hunting down Jews at “the
ends of the world.” The Lebanese terrorist group has prominent apologists in
the West, and some of them rushed to claim that Nasrallah had uttered
no such thing.
he had. Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tracked
down the original
recording of the speech, in which Nasrallah carries on about “occupied
Palestine” as the place appointed by Allah for the “final and decisive
battle” with the Jews. By “occupied Palestine,” he wasn’t talking about
the West Bank.
Sometimes anti-Zionists are — surprise! — homicidal
That’s a thought that can’t be far from the mind of
anyone living in northern Israel, where in recent days the Israeli Army has
discovered at least three tunnels dug by Hezbollah and intended to infiltrate
commandos under the border in the (increasingly likely) event of war. Given the
breadth of Hezbollah’s capabilities, the depth of its fanaticism, and the
experience of Hamas’s excavation projects in Gaza, it’s fair to assume other
tunnels will be found.
What would Hezbollah do if it got its fighters across? In
1974, three Palestinian terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon and took 115
hostages at an elementary school in the town of Ma’alot. They murdered 25 of
them, including 22 children.
Another infiltration from Lebanon in 1978 left 38 Israelis
dead. Given Hezbollah’s lon record of perpetrating massacres from Buenos
Aires to Beirut to towns
and cities across Syria, it’s a playbook it wouldn’t scruple to follow
in a war for the Galilee.
All this is to say that Israelis experience anti-Zionism in
a different way than, say, readers of The New York Review of Books: not as a
bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly
existence, held at bay only through force of arms. It’s somewhat like the
difference between discussing the effects of Marxism-Leninism in an
undergraduate seminar at Reed College, circa 2018 — and experiencing them at
closer range in West Berlin, circa 1961.
Actually, it’s worse than that, since the Soviets merely
wanted to dominate or conquer their enemies and seize their property, not wipe
them off the map and end their lives. Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable
point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the
future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination
of a state — details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who
currently live in it.
Note the distinction: Anti-Zionists are not advocating the
reform of a state, as Japan was reformed after 1945. Nor are they calling for
the adjustment of a state’s borders, as Canada’s border with the United
States was periodically adjusted in the 19th century. They’re not talking
about the birth of a separate state, either, as South Sudan was born out of
Sudan in 2011. And they’re certainly not championing the partition of a
multiethnic state into ethnically homogenous components, as Yugoslavia was
partitioned after 1991.
Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one
state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a
coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be
the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of
ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called
last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later
claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to
tell in which category he fell.
Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite?
It’s like asking whether a person who believes in separate-but-equal must
necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical
aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of
Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical
What’s worse: To be denied membership in a country club
because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign
state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully
distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.
The good news is that the conversation about anti-Zionism
remains mostly academic because Israelis haven’t succumbed to the fatal
illusion that, if only they behaved better, their enemies would hate them less.
To the extent that Israeli parents ever sleep soundly, it’s because they know
what they are up against. And, to borrow Kipling’s line, they never make mock
of uniforms that guard them while they sleep.
The same can’t be said for that class of scolds who excel
in making excuses for the wicked and finding fault with the good. When you find
yourself on the same side as Hassan Nasrallah, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke on
the question of a country’s right to exist, it’s time to re-examine every
opinion you hold.