Zionism, the Confederate Flag and the Stigma of Racism

One day after America’s 239th Independence Day, a new poll was released announcing that Israel is losing major support among Democrats and therefore “can’t claim bipartisan US support.” According to the Times of Israel report, “three quarters of highly educated, high income, publicly active US Democrats — the so-called “opinion elites” — believe Israel has too much influence on US foreign policy, almost half of them consider Israel to be a racist country, and fewer than half of them believe that Israel wants peace with its neighbors.” Since Israel’s founding over 67 years ago, it has enjoyed broad support from across the American political spectrum and though in Europe support for Israel from the Left has been consistently dropping for years, this was not the case in America.

Until now.

This is incredibly disturbing to say the least. The main reason why Israel and America share such a close relationship is because the two countries share the same values leading to a majority of Americans supporting Israel. This new poll reaffirms that most Americans continue to support Israel (68% say the US should support Israel v. Palestinians), but the stark decline in support from Democrats and the Left indicates that unless something is done, this majority will continue to decline. Then Israel will become a partisan issue of Right v. Left as it is in Europe.

The main reason for this is that the more time goes on without a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, the more time the Palestinians have had to convince the Left to accept its narrative and reject Israel’s.

This is not a new endeavor as Israel’s enemies have attempted to smear Israel and the Zionist movement with charges of racism well before Israel declared independence. The “greatest success” this slanderous movement had was UNGA 3379, the infamous 1975 “Zionism equals Racism” resolution.

What most people forget about this resolution was that it not only resolved that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination,” but that it reached this conclusion by linking Zionism with Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia. The reason why the anti-Israel movement has been so persistent in pushing the lie that “Zionism = Racism” and that the BDS movement has been so forceful with its “Israel is an apartheid state” slander is they know that once a symbol is associated with racism, whether justifiably or not, that symbol is beyond saving.

###The Case of the Confederate Battle Flag

After the terrorist attack at the historic African-American AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, there was a rush to ban the Confederate Battle Flag, remove it from public buildings and stores. The Apple App Store even went so far as to remove apps that used the flag not as a symbol of hate or pride but simply as an appropriate identifying marker in Civil War related apps. Many Southerners were upset by this rush to condemn a symbol that, for them, had nothing to do with hatred or racial supremacy but rather was a reminder of their heritage. To be clear, there is nothing wrong in people feeling pride in their history and culture. However, when that pride focuses on a treasonous flag that fought to preserve the institution of human slavery and then made its resurgence as a symbol of the fight against desegregation and the civil rights movement, that cultural pride is completely overshadowed and becomes linked to ideas its supporters reject.

It doesn’t matter that most American Southerners who venerate the flag don’t believe in white supremacy, slavery or segregation. Since the flag has such strong historical connections to the evils or slavery & segregation, it cannot be rehabilitated. Southern Pride must find a new symbol not only free of these sins, but one that southerners of all ethnicities can rally behind.

Similarly, there is no reason why Germans cannot be proud of their country and their heritage. However, using the Nazi flag would be an unacceptable way to show that pride because it is inextricably linked with the worst chapter of German history. If a German flew the Swastika and said he only identified with the German nationalism it represents but not the anti-Semitism, no one would accept such an argument and rightly so. It is impossible to separate the Nazi Swastika from the Holocaust and attempts to do so are done with the specific intent of whitewashing Nazi war crimes and diminishing the horrors of the Holocaust.

Building on these examples, the anti-Israel movement has sought for years to link Zionism and the Israeli flag with racism. The BDS-holes have attempted to make it so that whenever someone hears the word “Israel” they then hear the word “apartheid.” This is in keeping with Nazi Master Propagandist Joseph Goebbels’ mantra of The Big Lie, where he said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” It is in this area that the BDS movement is having its greatest success among its left-wing audience.

When examining the use of the term “Zionism” with audiences on the Left, pollster Frank Luntz points out, “you can’t make the case [for Israel] if you use that word [Zionism]. If you are at Berkeley or Brown and start outlining a Zionist vision, you don’t get to make a case for Israel because they’ve already switched off.” When these left-wing students hear the word “Zionism,” they don’t think of the Jewish National Liberation Movement, they don’t think about the only country in the Middle East where women, gays and minorities have equal rights and protection under the law, they don’t think about the only true safe haven for persecuted Jews. They hear Zionism and immediately think Apartheid.

History shows us that once this stigma of racism is attached to a symbol, it is unshakable, so does this mean that the term Zionism itself is lost?

In short, no. At least not yet.

It is important to remember that unlike the Confederate Battle Flag and the Nazi Swastika, Zionism is innocent of the outlandish charges leveled against it. This is one of the reasons why Israel’s enemies not only lie about crimes they say Israel commits, but why they try to link it to real crimes committed by others.

In this respect, the BDS-holes still have an uphill battler (at least in America) because they need to convince a majority of the people that their lie is the truth and that the truth is a lie. As long as a solid majority of Americans reject BDS’s lies, Israel’s supporters need not abandon the name of our nationalist movement, but unless something changes, a growing number of Americans will continue to fall under the sway of the anti-Israel misinformation brigade.

###BDS’s Goals

The main problem is that the best way to counter this anti-Israel movement is to make peace with the Palestinians. However, the more BDS isolates Israel, the more obstinate the Palestinians become and the less likely they are to finally confront their sacred cows - refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, dividing Jerusalem, the “Right of Return” and supporting terrorism - not that they’ve ever shown the slightest interest in doing so. BDS gives the Palestinians the false impression that they never have to compromise on these anti-peace ideas because eventually Israel will become so isolated it will be forced to give in on each one.

In this way, BDS makes peace less likely, not more and that is exactly its point. BDS needs to make peace more difficult because if Israel actually makes peace, it loses 99% of its Western support. For this reason, it is imperative that BDS link Israel with the modern evil-incarnate that is apartheid so it can maintain and grow its support from people who would otherwise reject its extremism and hatred.

###What can be done?

Unfortunately, the only way to counter this is by repeatedly making the just case for Israel. Reminding the world and the Left of Israel’s liberal values, of its respect for human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, protection of religious minorities, and spurned peace overtures, all the causes the West believes in. Zionists face an uphill battle not only because we can’t even call ourselves by this name in some circles any more, but also because BDS-holes use tactics that we won’t. No matter how much we love Israel and want to defend her, most of us are loathe to spread lies, even about our enemies. We respect freedom of speech and won’t shout down and prevent those we disagree with from speaking. We refuse to engage in macabre street theater as they do with “die ins” and mock checkpoints that present a false reality.

We must fight with one hand tied behind our back because that is what our morality requires of us.

But is that any different from how Jews have had to defend ourselves in every generation?