By Steve Brook
[There is increasing evidence that antisemitic feeling is increasing globally. The fact that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis still remains unresolved is probably playing a major role in this…. More than 15 years ago, in its summer 1994 issue, the Australian Jewish Democrat published an article by Steve Brook titled “How Radio Gumleaf Won Through”, about the stormy first three years of Melbourne Community radio station 3CR. The article touched upon the accusations of antisemitism that were levelled at the station almost from its foundation in 1976. This is an extract.]
“The angriest and potentially most dangerous response to 3CR did not come from the political Left, which tended to see the station as its own child, headstrong and undisciplined perhaps, but still in the family. Jewish community organizations were not constrained by such parental feelings.
This is not the place to go into arguments about either the degree of overlap between anti-Zionism and antisemitism or about Israel’s policies in the 1970s, especially as they affected the Palestinians. With a nod in the direction of structuralism, it will be enough here to venture the notion that since the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, at least three Zionisms have been abroad. These may be labelled Zionisms A, B and Bl, the first having positive connotations and the other two negative.
Zionism A is the legitimate national independence movement of the sorely-tried Jewish people, which expressed itself in the creation — admittedly (sometimes) at Arab expense — of the state of Israel after the Holocaust and the Second World War. It is a powerful but benign influence in Jewish communal affairs.
On the other hand, Zionism B is an ugly outgrowth of colonialism; it is an ethnocentric Jewish movement which has expelled tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their homeland and has denied civil, political and land rights to those who remained. Except as a cynical Zionist A argument, the Holocaust has almost no significance.
Zionism Bl, the other negative Zionism, is that of the traditional antisemites of the British National Front, the Australian League of Rights and similar bodies. Here, Zionism is seen as a modern manifestation of the eternal Jewish drive to world domination through both capitalism and socialism. The Holocaust, if it happened at all, was a thoroughly understandable gesture of irritation on the part of Christendom. One of the best known of the sacred texts of these groups, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, originally a Tsarist Russian concoction, was widely used by the German Nazis as a school textbook. It has since been republished in a number of Arab countries…
Jews are naturally inclined to identify with Zionism A, even if numbers of them may not agree with particular policies and actions of the Israeli government or of local Zionist organisations. Whether members of “real” Zionist bodies or not, their feelings for the continued existence of Israel as an identifiable Jewish state are strong, and they tend to see themselves as Zionists — even if only in this limited sense. The right of Israel to exist is never in question.
Fine ideological and semantic distinctions are lost on random radio audiences, which must include large numbers of people without any liking for Left political rhetoric. Not all Jews are Zionists, not all Zionists are Jews, and not all anti-Zionists are antisemites, but such subtleties as these were fogged in the process of communication. The “commonsense” equation is Zionist = Jew; Community Radio lost large numbers of potential supporters, and not only in the Jewish community..”
How many Zionisms?
By Steve Brook