Antisemitic sentiment always ran rampant within the Soviet Union. However, following WWII, antisemitism became associated with Nazism, an ideology that the Soviets vehemently opposed. So the Soviet authorities began persecuting Jews under the guise of “anti-Zionism” instead.
Jews were deported to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast and other regions of Siberia. Jewish doctors, writers, and other intellectuals were arrested and tortured. Massive propaganda campaigns warned of the dangers of “Zionism.”
Many historians agree that Stalin planned to proceed with a quasi-genocide of the Jewish People. However, due to his sudden death, this thankfully never came to fruition.
This so-called “anti-Zionist” persecution of Soviet Jews persisted long after the death of Stalin, into the 1970s and 80s. Needless to say, whether the Soviet Jews identified as Zionists or not was absolutely irrelevant, because they were oppressed all the same.
ETHIOPIA, 1970s and 1980s
In the late 1970s, a new Marxist government rose to power in Ethiopia. An anti-government right-wing group began an antisemitic killing spree in 1978, cutting children’s feet off, bludgeoning babies, castrating men, raping women, torturing elders, and selling women and children into slavery. Instead of condemning the attacks, the Ethiopian government cracked down on the Jewish community, claiming that they were doing so to combat “Zionist propaganda.”
Because of the worsening conditions, the Beta Israel (Ethiopian) Jews tried to flee to Israel. As a punishment for “Zionism,” Jews were collectively arrested, tortured, and hung.
In 1968, a series of student, intellectual, and other protests broke out against the Communist government of Poland. The Polish government responded by scapegoating Jews for the instability with a so-called “anti-Zionist” propaganda campaign, spreading conspiracies that the Zionists were plotting to take over Poland. Poles were forced to denounce Zionism and Jews were purged from the government and other leadership positions and accused of dual loyalties to Israel. Many were arrested, beaten, and tortured. The government created lists of Jews, eerily echoing Nazi Germany, and Jews were fired from most positions, resulting in an unbearable environment for them. As a result, many sought to flee to Israel, but doing so resulted in expulsion and the loss of Polish citizenship.
Prior to 1968, around 25,000 Jews lived in Poland (down from 3.5 million before WWII). After the 1968 crisis, only about 5000 remained. 15,000 Jews were stripped of their Polish citizenship.
The 1968 Polish political crisis is sometimes called a “symbolic pogrom (anti-Jewish massacre)” because the disenfranchisement of Jews resulted in a string of suicides.
JEWS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, 1940s-1970s
Between the early 1940s to the late 1970s, a massive ethnic cleansing of the Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa took place. Previously standing at around a million Jews, by the end of the 1970s, less than a hundred remained in most of the countries in the region. Much of the antisemitic rhetoric against the Jewish population masqueraded as “anti-Zionism.”
For example, in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime in Iraq. Jews were imprisoned, hung, and forced to pay for the Iraqi war effort against Israel (a war that Israel did not start).
In 1958, Jews were forced out of the government in Morocco, accused of so-called “Zionist activities.”
Between 1967-1969, 11 Jews in Iraq were hung, also for so-called “Zionist activities.” Jewish assets were frozen, and Jews were forced to carry yellow identity cards and forbidden from selling property.
BUKHARAN AND MOUNTAIN JEWS, 1920s-1970s
Following centuries of repression under Islamic rule, the Bukharan and Mountain Jews of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, respectively, favored the Soviet takeover of the region. However, their relief was short-lived, as the Soviets engaged in oppressive campaigns shortly thereafter, especially after WWII. In the 1920s, Mountain Jewish leaders were deported to Gulags. Bukharan Jews were also “purged” and forbidden from teaching Hebrew. Synagogues were shut down, Judeo-Tat banned (the local language of the Mountain Jews), and Zionism forbidden. Jews were subject to regular pogroms and forced to participate in “anti-Zionist” demonstrations. Emigration was banned, but even so, many managed to escape to Israel.
TOULOUSE, FRANCE, 2012
In March of 2012, a man named Mohammed Merah opened fire at the Ozarah Torah Jewish day school in Toulouse, France. A rabbi and three children were murdered. Four others were seriously wounded.
Merah justified the attacks, stating, “The Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine.”
In the 10 days following the attack, 90 antisemitic incidents were reported in France. 43 of them were considered violent. 14 days after the attack, a Jewish boy was hit in the back of the head as he was leaving the Ozarah Torah school. In another attack, a Jewish man was violently attacked by men identifying as Palestinians who vowed to “exterminate the Jews.” In another city in France, three young Jews were attacked with a hammer and iron bars.
MONSEY, NEW YORK, 2019
In December of last year, a man named Grafton E. Thomas stabbed five people with a machete in the middle of a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York. Five people were wounded and two were critically injured. Three months after the attack, the most severely injured victim, a 72-year-old man, succumbed to his wounds.
Following the attack, it was revealed that Thomas had conducted internet searches for “Zionist temples.”
In April of last year, a white supremacist named John Timothy Earnest fired shots at a synagogue just outside of San Diego, murdering one person and injuring three others. There were about 100 people in the synagogue at the time, but because Earnest’s rifle malfunctioned, there were no more casualties.
It was later discovered that Earnest had posted a letter to 8chan, claiming Jews were conspiring to enact a genocide on the white race. Among other conspiracy antisemitic theories, Earnest made it clear that he despised “Zionists.”
KU KLUX KLAN, 1915-present
The Ku Klux Klan is not only driven by antisemitism, but is also infamous for anti-Zionist rhetoric that leads to violence against Jews. Starting with the lynching of Leo Frank in 1915, the KKK has engaged in numerous stabbings, shootings, and other massacres against the Jewish People all the way up to the present day. The KKK subscribes to conspiracy theories that the Jews plan to enact a “white genocide” and that “Zionists” control the world banks, media, and governments. For example, Robert Gregory Bowers, the man who murdered 11 people and injured 7 others in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, was inspired by KKK and other white nationalist rhetoric against the Jewish People.
David Duke, former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, is infamous for his anti-Zionist rants on Twitter. Duke was permanently suspended from Twitter this year.