Pope Francis: Anti-Israel attacks are anti-semitic

The Pope said today, in effect, that anti-zionism equals anti-semitism. His words:

‘To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism,’ the Pope told a World Jewish Congress delegation. ‘There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity.’

So where does that leave the cultural boycott movement?

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  • You might want to read what he said again. He never used the words “zionism” or “anti-zionism” either.

    “…But with his words on Wednesday, Francis drew a bright red line between critiquing Israeli policies and critiquing Israel’s existence. The former, he said, is legitimate and sometimes necessary; the latter is bigotry…”

    Zionism is a racist and inhumane ideology. It has shit to do with the right of the people in Israel to exist and form a state TODAY, even if it was the mainstream ideology in the constitution of such state.

    • You are an idiot. Zionism is the movement of the Jews to restore and maintain the Jewish homeland where Biblical Israel once existed. Since Jews come from many races (have you ever seen a Sephardic Jew ? Or a Yemenite one ? Or a Chinese Jew from Kaifeng ?), racism in any normal definition of the term has nothing to do with it. The Arabs have only themselves to blame for not accepting the partition plan in 1948. And as for Zionism being “inhumane”, please tell that to the state-employed Israeli doctors who treat wounded Muslim terrorists.

      • “The Arabs have only themselves to blame”, but I’m an idiot. I rest my case. Never discuss with irrational hate mongers.

        • You give no evidence of having an inferior intellect. You DO give evidence of harboring intense hostility to the state of Israel . . .also known in Arab parlance as the “zionist entity”. You might engage in a little introspection . . .you might read a summary of Herzl’s book “the Judenstaat”. You might give some thought to the implications of the UN’s “zionism is racism” resolution to which you apparently subscribe

          • Your accusation I were holding “intense hostility” toward Israel is ridiculous but telling for people who can not think rationally anymore, at least regarding this subject. And all the likewise comments, irrational appeals to mythological rights and superiority, are evidence of a collective brainwashing of a high order. It is doubtful that peace ever can be achieved with a majority of such disturbed minds.

          • further to outline the evident racism in zionism with only one prominent example:

            Israel has jurisdiction, that guarantees anyone in the world born as a Jew, the right of immigration to Israel. Children of the about one million people who were driven out of Palestine around 1948 when Israel was founded as a Jewish state, have on the other hand no right to return to their homeland.

            If that is not the mother of racist policies, then I don’t know what is.

      • You’re so right. This whole Gaza thing–how many people in the international anti-Israel frenzy have bothered to read the mission statement of Hamas, which the people of Gaza voted in as their government. Hamas vows to destroy Israel. That’s their purpose. I’d like to see what France, for example, would do if Italy voted in a government that vowed to destroy France. Any government would be justifiably militant and violently retaliatory. All else is Palestinian propaganda.

        • US girl, it is extremely naive of you (at best), to ignore the whole chain of events which led to an extremist fraction of Palestinians like Hamas to be elected by a majority of them. And the right wing establishment in Israel welcomes Hamas, some say it was actually created by them, so the perpetual war never has to stop.

    • Zionism is a nationalism just like any other. If you dared to say that any nationalism is a “racist and inhumane” ideology, I might even agree with you.

      But being perfectly comfortable with any other nationalism while calling the Jewish nationalism “racist and inhumane” is – you name it.

      • Zionism has many different definitions, some deeply humanistic, some less so. One definition is that Israel should be a state reserved exclusively for one religion and one ethnic group. This would not be a normal form of nationalism — though similar values are held by some major countries like Japan. Another form of Zionism asserts that Israel should appropriate all lands defined by the Biblical Judea and Samaria — an action that is to some degree underway through the West Bank settlements, and which is illegal under international law. This too would not be a normal form of nationalism.

        None of this changes my view that Israel has the right to exist, but it does leave certain policies wide open to valid criticism.

        • Virtually every nationalism comes with rather moderate and very radical forms. Just have a look at the French one: There’s the very inclusive republican civic nationalism, which considers the French nation a community of languages and values, regardless of ancestry, and there’s Mr. Le Pen father. And Zionism aka Jewish nationalism is no exception.

          But calling Zionism as a whole “racist and inhumane” while not doing so with other nationalisms (French, German, British, Scottisch, Arab, American, Indian, Iranian, whatever) can only be explained with Antisemitism.

      • I’m not perfectly comfortable with any other form of nationalism, any nationalism is wrong in that very moment that it emphasizes more the division than the commonality between people, based on artificial concepts like race or nationality. What makes Zionism particularly racist is its ideological transformation of a religious group of people (followers of Judaism) into a constructed racial entity, which has no factual base in modern ancestry of said members of said religious group.
        It was a “trick” by Zionism, since it was the prerequisite to a nation state, the definition of a “people”, a necessary lie so to speak, because without a defined entity of people, no state.
        Today people actually believe that lie, rather than to understand it in its historic context.

    • It would be nice if the “policies” the Israel-haters critique were actually the policies that are on the ground. It would be nice if, instead of parroting what “everybody knows”, they’d actually read the history.

      It’d also be nice if I had a pony.

      • Read the history!? How very droll, Mr. Salzberg. What would this accomplish; make everybody see reason? Most people can’t read a paragraph without reading into things or letting their own views and feelings permeate every word, influencing every possible interpretation.
        Emotions in this matter have flared to the point of no return and have blinded almost all involved.

        • War makes people crazy, and both sides in this case have have been fighting for 70 years (though a certain well-known treatise says 3000.) Solutions at this point can only be imposed from the outside, but it seems that the USA finds it in its interest for the war to continue. It prevents Israel from following its natural and closest alliances to Europe and helps the USA keep a firm footing on the cross roads of three continents.

      • At issue is not policy, but the many forms of Zionism. Some formulate policy, some not, and some influence significant political groups who are would like to see their views made into policy. It should be remembered that there are many diverse views in Israel.

      • Yes it would be nice if the anti-Israel crowd would look at history, but that’s hard. Propaganda is easy. In Germany, Jews fought alongside Germans in WWI, converted to Christianity, were loyal. Got them the Holocaust. Afterward, no country would take them in. Many went to Israel. The Arab nations, including the Palestinians, took up arms against them. Israel won and didn’t let those Palestinians back in. Hello? It would be like the US welcoming Bin Laden. So Israeli government plays nasty instead of nice… Its a tribute to the Israeli people that many are sorry for the Palestinians. I think they’re misguided, but they’re a kind, ethical people at heart.

        • US girl, you seem to have good intentions, but your mind is conditioned completely off track too, to avoid the term “brainwashed”.
          For instance when you say:
          “In Germany, Jews fought alongside Germans in WWI, converted to Christianity, were loyal. Got them the Holocaust.”
          You have eaten the zionist construct that Jews are their own nation and people. No, these Jews were Germans. No matter if converted or not. What “got them the Holocaust” (which hit hardest the Eastern European Jews btw) was the crazy Nazi ideology of supreme and inferior races. In that way an antagonist counterpart to zionism as a likewise racist ideology. In its implementation of subsequent mass murder though a singular horrific event in human history.

          “Afterward, no country would take them in…”
          Only partially true. Zionism was using the momentum to realize their goal of statehood.

          “Many went to Israel. The Arab nations, including the Palestinians, took up arms against them. Israel won and didn’t let those Palestinians back in. Hello? It would be like the US welcoming Bin Laden…”

          Your comparison to Bin Laden doesn’t make any sense.
          You could compare the Palestinians to the Native indians of America maybe. Which have been largely exterminated, the scattered remainders vegetating in their ghettos (newspeak: reservations).

          “So Israeli government plays nasty instead of nice… Its a tribute to the Israeli people that many are sorry for the Palestinians. I think they’re misguided, but they’re a kind, ethical people at heart.”

          So in short you are saying: The Germans created the evil, and the Palestinians rightfully have to pay for it. Did I read that correct?

  • The Pope is quoted in the Jewish advocacy magazine “Tablet.” The publication says that “the vast majority of the leadership of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement opposes Israel’s right to exist.” Is that true? The official stance of the BDS movement is that it is only pressuring Israel to comply with its goals: return of West Bank settlements, full equality for Israeli Palestinians, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

    So what is the actual goal of the BDS movement? I haven’t followed it at all, and have no idea.

    • My understanding of the BDS is that when it comes to the right of Israel to exist they are “agnostic.” If they have ever categorically affirmed the Jewish people’s right to their own homeland in the historic land of Israel I would be interested to know.

      • Questionable mythology can never be a justifcation for occupation and settlement. Israel’s right to exist can be based only on its citizens, humans like any other, right to exist and form their chosen form of statehood.

        • Holger . . . Again, a blog is not a good avenue for discussion. Isn’t the actual question: Which side has a supeior historical, relgious claim to dsputed territory? Is it not true that the Arab-Muslims concquered and “occupied” millions of acres as they expanded from Arabia post 670 AD. Is it not true tha the MUslim Ottomoan Turks “occupied” the dipusted territory for hundrreds of years. Is it not true tha the Jews are the indigenous people?

          • Historical religious claims to territory are completely irrelevant, regardless who voices them. Obviously, no? Are you serious?

        • Holger H: By ‘questionable mythology’ you must be referring to the recent comments by the current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammed Ahmad Hussein, who stated that there has never been a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount and that there has been a mosque there “since the creation of the world.” He’s either off by just shy of 4.5 billion years or the world in only 800 years old. This is the same chap who calls for suicide bombings against Israelis. What a deranged lunatic.
          Great men are these leaders of the religion of peace.

          • Peace is impossible with hate mongers like you who are trapped in the dualistic and childish “we good they bad” trap.

      • David: Let’s face it, the notion that the Arabs will ever actually reconcile themselves to a Jewish state in the mideast is a pipe dream. Anti Jewish hostility is a fact of life which will never disappear. Most frightening is that anti-Semitism is no longer the monopoly of the right wing. Now the bigots are both right and left wingers.

        • But half the truth is the biggest lie.
          You must also talk about the other Anti-semitism. The hatred of the arabic semites by the inhabitants of Israel, many of them not semites actually.

          • No Holger…no. Genetic studies have confirmed that Ashkenazi Jews are Semitic, even more so than Sephardic Jews.

          • No US girl, they haven’t. Or, if you look at it from the other side, they have confirmed that Russians are semitic too. The jewish genetic ancestry school of thought is nothing but a myth. For a scientific relevance, the “research” in that area has to prove the negative as well. And that’s where this – ideologically motivated – pseudo science falls flat on its face.
            Did you know that humans have about 60% similar genetic code with a fruit fly?

  • I am not a supporter of any boycott movement against Israel but for the right of anyone to criticise Israel’s politics without being labelled as an antisemitist. I strongly resist the notion that the majority of people who underwrote that declaration for boycott would question the right of Israel to exist. This is utter nonsense and has nothing to do with the conflict as seen by normal thinking people. (The only state who seriously questions Israel’s existence is Iran.) I share with many others the opinion that the Zionist movement was not right in occupying land that was not theirs but the facts are now as they are. There are now two states and unless the kill all themselves (which perhaps will ultimately happen, but without help of USA and Europe) they will have to live together until the end of the world. Israel has every right to exist now as does have Palestine.Their obligation is to live together in peace and to accept their neighbour’s identity without questioning anyone’s rights or culture. A big step towards a more peaceful existence would be devaluing religious influence in politics and developing to a real modern society. Both states are far from it.

    • SL: I think you are badly mistaken as a simple matter of fact. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Arab and Muslim regimes DO NOT agree with the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the mideast. The fact that five Arab states attempted to destroy Israel in 1948 is but one small manifestation of that fact. There are literally millions of other manifestations. The United Nations’ notorious Zionism is Racism is another element of proof. I could not disagree with you more. If you read the ADL’s report of world wife anti-semitism (Jew Hate – Juden Hoss) you will see that no fewer than 91% of middle east north Afrrican respondents were virulent Jew haters

      • Agree Cohen! And Gaza voted for Hamas which vows destruction of Israel. They talk “poor me” but when they carry signs that say “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and they do, that’s really what its all about for most Muslims.

  • Both states are far from it.

    Too true. And I agree that it is reprehensible to equate criticism of Israel and anti-semitism. Aside from being untrue and unfair, it demonstrates a tyrannical trait: the notion that Israel (as a government) can do no wrong, and anyone who disagrees with this fiat is evil. I know many Israelis are among the greatest critics, but this is not like “I’ll criticise my family as much as I want but we close ranks against outsiders.” Governments are all too capable of doing things, or setting policies, with which many inside and outside disagree. (vide, the US, the UK, to name two nations well represented here).

    From what I have read of Pope Francis’ statement, which essentially represents my own views, he has been grossly misrepresented in that headline. This is approaching actionable level, rather than the usual irresponsibility, carelessness or vulgarity. I wonder of this post will remain: this blog, and its prime minister, are getting a but like Israel.

    • Would you diagree with the notion that Arab-Muslim resistance to an Jewish state in the mideast is bottomed in hostility to Jews?

      • I think it ORIGINATED in hostility to being pushed out of their homes, and it would not have mattered who did it. I think it increased with occupation and, the settlements. That it is the Jews makes them the target of the hostility, yes, to that extent I agree, and there has certainly been some hardening of attitudes over the years — on both sides. The Israelis might not be so dismissive of the humanity of the Arabs in their attitudes to legitimate protest if the Palestinians had just crept away quietly in the first place.

        But the 1948 war featured more of what we equate with terrorism nowadays on the Israeli side. They were an aggressive and arrogant sort of enemy. They only seemed to justify what they were doing, which was being plonked down in someone else’s place, by demeaning and diminishing and dehumanising the Arabs. Among the shellshocked of WW II were the radicalised, and what they were engaged in was a land grab. If one sometimes wonders how some of today’s movements got their inspiration — well, they may have learned a little from the modern history of their enemies.

  • Whilst it is correct that a critical approach to Israel does not necessarily indicate anti-semitism it is incorrect to believe that this does not happen. Criticism of Israel does indeed mask anti-semitism particularly among the left. There is a lot of disguised prejudices floating around and when someone is ultra-critical of Israel one should instantly be on one’s guard. It is also interesting to read the anti-semitism that appears on this site.

    • What you find interesting, I find tiresome and deplorable. And you needn’t be so specific about what appears on this site, as Jews and Israelis are only two of several nationalities and religions that are frequently showered with vileness around here.
      What I find interesting is how presumably sane people can play so much ring-around-the-rosy, rejecting one person’s bigotry views as narrow-minded idiocy and then go straight on to justify their own bigotry views with prejudiced stupidity.

      • Max, relax. You seem to have a low tolerance threshold for differnces of opinion. I’ve seen a number of posts which are believe are venemous and bigoted, but none which are “idiocy”.

        • I was referring to words some here have used to describe the opinions of others they didn’t agree with.
          I readily accept differences of opinion; where I do have a low tolerance threshold is when people deal only in absolutes, try to sell subjective opinion as hard fact and instead of being respectful and disagreeing in a reasoned manner (much like you have with some posts here, Mr. Cohen) behave like bellicose bullies.

  • CDH is absolutely correct.

    Norman, even by the standards of your usual headlining policy, this is bad. Given the context, and the degree of ire and irrational fury that already surrounds practically any discussion of the subject, it’s also dangerous and counterproductive. Wilful misrepresentation of this kind is never attractive – I mean who do you think you are, David Cameron? Shoddy journalism at its cheapest and shoddiest.

    As a lawyer let me tell you: if Pope Francis happened to read that headline, he’d have every right to sue the very shirt off your back.

      • From the article:

        But with his words on Wednesday, Francis drew a bright red line between critiquing Israeli policies and critiquing Israel’s existence. The former, he said, is legitimate and sometimes necessary; the latter is bigotry.

        That is NOT what this headline implies.

        • Mr Lebrecht, learn to “read”, not “read into”; I think you will find that that will increase standards on this blog tremendously.

  • On the question of journalistic standards, what I find so repugnant here is the insertion of “in effect” in that sentence. I suspect NL thinks those weasel words will give him an out if this should get him in a mess, and he’s misrepresented in this one post more people than just the Pope. He’s used to weaseling his way out of messes, but here that phrase just puts him deeper in one, for it’s a certain tip-off that he knew precisely what he was doing. Mens rea.

  • Jewish state was establish in USSR 1934 and Jews from around the world came to built nd live there. It’s still exist as Jewish atonomy region , Birobidjan its capital, official language-Yiddish and no official religion. I support Holger H.

  • While Norman Lebrecht’s daily letter regularly reads like Israel and other music news, I take a lot of pleasure from it. However it is very necessary, opposed to what many readers do, to see the exact nuance of the Pope’s words. He criticises those who question the existence of Israel but not those who criticise the state of Israel’s policies. Critics of the state of Israel’s policies have the right to boycott Israel as well as call for a boycott. This is not because many other states in the Middle-East regions are better, but because Israel explicitly compares itself to Western standards and for instance not to Turkey’s standards. Although when criticised the next moment it often wants to be compared to Turkey. Moreover the BDS movement was started when Israel refused to distinguish between goods and institution coming from the occupied territories. But of course all sorts and kinds of factions see the Pope’s words as a victory in a pro-nationalist or pro-hardline Zionist fight. Many Jews in the world including in Israel beg to differ about this.

    • Is it not true that Martin Luther King explcitly stated that anti-Zionism IS anti-semitism?
      These blogs are not a good avenue for discussion.

      Let me pose a question. Is it not true that Israel is virutally, if not the only, nation state in the world which has been under seige, either politically or militarily, since or even before May 12, 1948?

  • It’s Friday afternoon and I’m exhausted at work, so I’m reading this article. I usually don’t click on articles with this (or similar) topic, as I find them very little to do with what this blog says it’s about: “The inside track on classical music and related cultures”. Some of the comments here are pretty awful, and really lacking in empathy, which I’d hope is something that “classical music and related cultures” helps promote. I don’t have much else to add – I just wish we could all be a little nicer, show a little more empathy, and listen to more great music. As for the latter, Argerich and Kovacevich play at Wigmore on Monday, so I know I’ll be in for a treat! Oh, and Happy Halloween.

      • I do not know if Mrs Ross was asking a question or making a comment, Mr. Cohen. Nonetheless, the river in her post pertains to a quote by Heraclitus.
        “No man ever steps in the same river twice…”

          • I’m not sure myself. There are several quotes from Heraclitus involving the “same river”. All of the quotes are the equal in that Heraclitus says that one cannot enter the same river/flowing water twice. The quote Mrs Ross posted (to whom exactly it may be attributed I don’t know) seems to argue that a Zionist is someone who believes that they can enter the same river or flowing water twice.

  • With Slipped Disc bringing regular updates on news of interest to those interested in Israel (as long as their politics are correct) and nothing to do with music, it is to be wondered that he has not commented on the most egregious story to emerge in recent weeks: Benjamin Netanyahu’s outrageous comments on the origins of the Holocaust. Alex Ross mentioned it in his column. But of course any mention in reasonable society might have meant criticising the hard-right Prime Minister of a country in which, around here, the government can do no wrong, and defending the hated “them” against an extraordinary and utterly baseless slur. Hostility between the sides in the Mid-East conflicts are nothing new, but it’s hard to cede the high ground to blatant liars.

    But a preposterous utterance — not retracted, to my knowledge, but criticised by many world leaders — cannot be subjected to scrutiny where there is a hard-and-fast agenda that seems incapable of seeing both sides of a question, the humanity of “them,” or any semblance of fairness. Fabricating to suit one’s book is thus sanctified, noisily by Netanyahu, here by silence.

    • Nentanyahu’s hybperbole is damaging to his own cause. Nonetheless the Mufti’s pro-Nazi conduct in WWII is a discussion well worth a lot more attenton than it has recevied. It is also true had the Mufti (and the Arabs in general) not prevented Jewish emigraton to Mandatory Palestine there were would have been far fewer deaths in Nazi death campts.

      • Well in that line of thought, there would have been fewer deaths in the camps too, if the US et al had allowed Jewish refugees in and the British and the US had bombed the camps and railway tracks to it, yet they refused to do it. It’s until today not exactly clear, what held them back from bombing the railway tracks at least.

  • Why can’t all the semites, regardless of their faith, just live peacefully together? Maybe because the “semitism” in their common identity is not the decisive factor?
    However, when a Palestinian (a semite) who engages in anti-Israel rhetoric (most citizens of Israel are not semites) is called an anti-semite, the logical mind shuts down and the semantic confusion that is intrinsic to zionism becomes evident.

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