Zionism and Anti-Zionism: A History

Among campus activists, the word “Zionist” has simply come to be an insult, while in the Middle East it serves as a synonym for “Israeli” for those whose antipathy is so great that they refuse to pronounce the hated country’s name. For others still, it is nothing but a codeword for Jew. And for most American Jews, Zionism means support for Israel, and “anti-Zionism” the view that Israel should be dismantled or destroyed, that the country is a unique source of evil in the world.

But when the term first emerged at the end of the 19th century, it referred to a specific ideology, or, more accurately, a set of competing ideologies often engaged in fierce debate, while anti-Zionism included a variety of rival visions for the Jewish future. In a new five-part online course offered by Tikvah, the political scientist and former Knesset member Einat Wilf, together with the filmmaker Zoé Tara Zeigherman, explains the intellectual history of Zionism and of its opposition. You can register for free at the link below.

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More about: Anti-Zionism, History of Zionism

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict