Jon Lansman, a founder of the Momentum campaign group, has written an article in Left Futures stating:
I […] think the Left should stop talking about “Zionism” or “Zionists”. As Herman argues, ‘Zionism has become a dirty word for many on the left. It has become synonymous with Israel itself, the racist practices of the Israeli state.”’ […] Abandoning use of the term “Zionist” will not be enough on its own. There needs to be clarity, guidance and even training about what is appropriate.
If this suggestion receives any kind of official support from the Labour Party, it will have a chilling effect on free speech. Below are two responses from Free Speech on Israel members:
FREE SPEECH ON ISRAEL: OK, BUT JUST DON’T CALL A SPADE A SPADE
The piece appears to be just about use of language. But the whole issue is all about language, definitions and emphasis, there’s bound to be a lot more besides.
He says we can have “robust criticisms” of “Israeli government policy” but mustn’t alienate the critical British Jews who mostly (60%) still identify as “Zionists”. But anything more systemic or fundamental is out of bounds: “Zionism” which “has become synonymous with Israel itself” should not be targetted because there is “more to Zionism” than racism and apartheid.
Rather than using exact language to target the Zionists who created and defend Israel, Jon suggests a range of euphemisms such as “Israeli fundamentalists” or, ideally, “Netanyahu’s regime”.
Not only does this confirm “Zionism” as a forbidden word to be labelled anti-semitic; not only does that validate the brouhaha about attacks on Zionism being really attacks on Jews; not only does that limit free speech on Israel; it ALSO disables essential language tools in a way that, ironically, funnels the argument towards genuine antisemitism.
So who do we blame for the 1948 Nakba and the 1967 mass expulsions less well known as the Naksa, which shaped today’s map? Surely not Israeli fundamentalists who were yet to come, and certainly not Netanyahu who was yet to come and will one day be gone. If we can’t use their own word — Zionism — to explain 70 years’ worth of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and the deeds of all its apologists and backers, we are left pointing at an entity called “The Jewish State”. Or just Jews.
But we don’t want to do that, because not all Jews are Zionist (or even vaguely pro-Zionist), and not all Zionists are Jews: some 30 million are Christian Zionists, and there’s any number of fascists who hate Jews but admire the weapons, the walls and the prisons of Israel, and increasingly hate Muslims even more than they hate Jews. Continue reading “Lansman says ‘Left must stop talking about Zionism’”