what is antizionism?

antizionism is the belief that the state of israel should not exist.

quick answer

fair or not?

in the 19th century and early 20th centuries, jewish communities across europe, the americas, and the islamic world struggled with how to achieve equality and coexistence within hostile christian and muslim societies.

the 'jewish question'

zionism emerged in the 19th century as one answer for jewish liberation. within a few years, zionist jewish groups became active in jewish communities worldwide, from new york city to baghdad. however, opponents within jewish communities also emerged: antizionists.

zionism emerges

antizionists and zionists responded to each other's competing messages in print and in person, debating wherever a jewish community could be found. this discursive antizionism was among jewish people. antizionists asserted that focusing on equality in non-jewish states was the most realistic option for jewish survival.

discursive antizionism

zionism was vague. even among its supporters, there was a struggle between idealism versus pragmatism. would the international community recognize a jewish state in eretz yisrael, or would it have to be in the sinai or uganda? antizionists viewed this as a distraction from pogroms and rising antisemitism.

1897: first zionist congress

for the first time ever, more and more christian states were passing reforms that granted jews equal citizenship. also, the ottoman empire was granting jews more recognition. in light of this, discursive antizionists argued that zionism was extravagant and pushy.

too extravagant?

zionists supported progressive issues like women's suffrage and secular governance. this prompted religious antizionists to argue that zionists were trying to imitate non-jews and replace judaism with modern liberalisms.

too assimilated?

bundists were the biggest antizionist bloc within the jewish world. based in europe, they believed socialism would achieve liberation for jews as well as all mankind, as part of a global class struggle.


when the ottoman empire collapsed in 1915, families from almost every sector of the jewish world — kurdish jews, ashkenazi jews, sephardi jews, and more — had already established thriving jewish-majority towns and villages in eretz yisrael / historical palestine.

facts on the ground

with the former ottoman empire's territory being split up into smaller islamic and arab states (plus turkey), the international community declared it would recognize a jewish state as well.

1917: balfour declaration

as more jewish immigrants arrived in eretz yisrael / historical palestine, antizionism went from being an internal discussion inside the jewish community, to an external threat from some arab leaders who started stoking antisemitic riots in the name of antizionism.

external antizionism

when the arab league invaded eretz yisrael / historical palestine in 1948, the arab leadership vowed to annihilate jewish life from the region as part of the quest to destroy the state of israel.

genocidal antizionism

with the state of israel emerging mostly victorious in 1948, antizionism became mainstreamed as a global political cause, similar to the so-called 'jewish question' behind centuries of antisemitic persecution.

the new 'jewish question'

jewish question?

the state of israel was immediately recognized by the united states, the soviet union, and their various allies. however, inside the soviet union, local jews were increasingly scapegoated and persecuted. soon, soviet policy turned against the state of israel, also.

soviet antizionism

nowadays, the most popular forms of antizionism, both in the arab world and beyond, are shaped by soviet antizionism. soviet antizionism views the state of israel as a regressive, capitalist, greedy 'entity' or 'cancer' whose removal is a crucial step toward a just and equal future for mankind.

antizionists today: soviet antizionism

there is also islamic antizionism, especially in the form of the islamic resistance movement (hamas), and the islamic republic of iran. islamic antizionists view a theocratic islamic state as the only legitimate power to rule eretz yisrael / historical palestine.

antizionists today: islamic antizionism

there is also a major strand of antizionism found in white supremacist cicles, who adopt nazi ideology about a jewish cabal. they view the state of israel as one part of a much larger, extractive, anti-human conspiracy by jews to oppress white people.

antizionists today: white supremacism

soviet antizionism, islamic antizionism, and white supremacist antizionism have tremendous overlap, and tropes about israeli jews being 'baby killers' or 'land grabbers' are shared by all three.

antizionist tropes

in the 20th century, there were three major changes that reshaped zionist discourse in the jewish community: the state of israel becoming a reality; the slaughter of most jews in europe; and the expulsion of most jews in the islamic world.

major changes

for many decades, antizionist discourse in the jewish world was about a country that did not yet exist. after the state of israel's independence, the 'zionist debate' in the jewish world mostly shifted from 'should a jewish state exist?' to vibrant arguments about the state of israel's policies, politicians, and directions.


in the 20th century, jewish populations collapsed everywhere except the state of israel and the united states. after the holocaust and expulsions from the islamic world, the state of israel is the last place left in the entire world with jewish-majority towns and villages. this radically redefines what it means to be antizionist.

jewish population collapse

small groups of antizionist jews remain. some ultra-religious jews believe that jews should wait for a messianic religious kingdom, while some left-wing jews believe that jews should lead the world in rejecting nationalism.

jewish antizionists today

did zionism solve antisemitism? no. although the state of israel provides jews and israeli citizens the option of self-defense, it cannot solve antisemitism. the scourge of antisemitism is a non-jewish problem, and it is up to non-jews to trade it in for tolerance and coexistence.

antisemitism continues

one thing is clear: if antizionism were to succeed, then dismantling the state of israel today would involve tremendous bloodshed and the large-scale killing of jewish people unlike any violence that has ever taken place in the conflict in eretz yisrael / historical palestine.

violent means

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