are you actually protesting for Palestine? Or...are you just intimidating Jews?



Protesting Holocaust survivors outside of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Yom HaShoah, or the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day. Shouting “shame on you!” at the mother of Naama Levy, the Israeli teenager who was taken hostage on October 7 with blood gushing between her legs. A lynch mob of thousands waiting for Israeli singer Eden Golan outside of her hotel room in Sweden ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest. Protestors outside of the Nova Music Festival Massacre memorial exhibit in New York City. Pro-Palestine protestors screaming at children with cancer because they are receiving treatment at a hospital that took a donation from a Zionist. 

All of this — and so much more — in the name of Palestine.

Protest, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly are hallmarks of democracy. If you are opposed to Israel’s policies, protesting that is absolutely your right. But who are you actually protesting? And why? 

If you have a problem with China’s treatment of Uyghurs or their occupation of Tibet, would you go protest at the Chinese embassy…or in front of a Chinese restaurant or at a Chinese cultural festival? Probably the former, right? Most of us understand that protesting a Chinese restaurant owner would be horribly bigoted…regardless of how that person feels about China’s policies. Bigotry is never an acceptable response to policies you dislike.

So if you have a problem with Israel…why are you protesting anywhere that’s not an Israeli embassy or consulate? Are you actually protesting on behalf of Palestinians or are you just contributing to a social environment that is hostile and dangerous for Jews? 

Terrorizing Naama Levy’s mother or Holocaust survivors won’t do anything for Palestinians. 



Protesting “Zionists” is protesting Jews. Polling consistently shows that 80-97% of Jews identify as Zionists; that is, they believe that Jews have the right to self-determination in Israel. Being a Zionist has absolutely nothing to do with supporting any Israeli policy. If you’re only okay with 3-20% of Jews, simply because most of us believe that a basic tenet of international law — self-determination — should apply to us too, then you’re not okay with Jews. 

Antisemitism homogenizes Jews, depicting us as an antisemitic stereotype. In this case, the perception is that the Jewish people — or “Zionists” — are a nefarious group manipulating everything for our own benefit. In the antisemite’s mind, whatever Israel does or doesn’t do is part of this supposed collective Jewish master plan. And because antisemites see Jews as a singular unit, they hold each and every one of us responsible for every move Israel makes. 

And while it’s true that Jews are a community — a people — this community is comprised of about 15 million individuals, with an enormous range of different political views and relationships to Israel. Whatever the antisemite thinks, Jews are actually not supernatural beings; like everyone else, we can only control our own actions.

And yes, most Jews have a relationship or connection to Israel. It’s only natural to feel attached to the land that birthed your people and is inextricably embedded into your entire culture. Just as many second and third generation immigrants feel attached to their home countries, most Jews feel attached to Israel. That doesn’t mean that we are capable of controlling what the people in the Israeli government choose to do. Like you, we are only human. 



You’ve probably heard of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933. It’s important to note that, according to the Nazis, their boycott was merely a “defense” from the worldwide (largely Jewish-led) anti-Nazi boycott. 

The real motive behind the Nazi boycott was to marginalize their own Jewish population financially and socially. 

On April 1, 1933, the Nazis carried out their first planned action against Jews. Nazi militants stood threateningly outside of Jewish stores, offices, and more. They graffitied the establishments with Stars of Davids and antisemitic slogans. They shamed customers who attempted to cut through past the crowds with antisemitic signs. 




In the 1940s and 1950s, 850,000 Jews were expelled from the Arab world, reducing the Arab world’s ancient Jewish population by nearly 100 percent. These expulsions happened under the guise of…you guessed it…anti-Zionism.

The politics of individual Jews were totally irrelevant, and the so-called “proof” of Zionism was tenuous at best. For example, in one case in Iraq, a man was sentenced to five years of forced labor for having a Biblical Hebrew inscription, which the accusers claimed was a “coded Zionist message.” Hebrew, a language that long predates the Zionist movement, was demonized because Jews were demonized. 

The biggest shock came to the Jewish community when the wealthiest Jew in Iraq, an anti-Zionist named Shafiq Ades, was accused of Zionism and was executed on charges of Zionism. Why? Because he was Jewish. 

In 1947, the Egyptian prime minister told the British ambassador: “All Jews were potential Zionists [and] ...anyhow all Zionists were Communists.”

Similarly, in the 1950s, the Egyptian government once again proclaimed, “All Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state.” Thousands of Jews were imprisoned, assets were seized, and more. Ironically, prominent anti-Zionist Jews were also removed from their positions and ended up leaving. 

These, of course, are just some examples. 



In 1918, the midst of the Russian Civil War, the Soviet Communist Party established a “Jewish branch,” with the consent of Vladimir Lenin. It was named “Yevsetskiya,” meaning “Jewish Sections of the Communist Party.”

The mission of the Yevsetskiya was, quite literally, the “destruction of traditional Jewish life, the Zionist movement, and Hebrew culture.” In other words, this Jewish branch of the Soviet government was dedicated solely to the destruction of fellow Soviet Jewry. The fact that the Yevsetskiya was “Jewish” was central to its purpose. After all, the Soviet regime couldn’t be accused of antisemitism when those shutting down all Jewish cultural and spiritual life were Jews themselves.

Initially, the Yevsetskiya legally abolished the “kehillas,” the traditional Jewish community organizations. Sometimes, they even burned their offices down. After their 1919 conference, when they deemed Zionism “counterrevolutionary,” they resolved to destroy all “Zionist activity,” which meant that they shut down everything from political groups to theaters to sports clubs. They raided all Ukrainian “Zionist” offices and arrested every single one of their leaders; they also arrested thousands more in the rest of the Soviet Union.

The Yevsetskiya shut down all schools that taught Hebrew, no matter their political views, and harassed Hebrew-speaking artists.

Until their dissolution in 1929, they imprisoned, tortured, and murdered thousands of Jews.

According to historian of Soviet history Richard Pipes, “In time, every Jewish cultural and social organization came under assault.”



As mentioned, the Soviet Union heavily suppressed Jewish cultural and spiritual life, stripping many Jewish families of thousands of years’ worth of history. For example, though not officially illegal, Jews were punished for speaking or studying Hebrew or participating in religious traditions. Jews were not allowed to assimilate into Soviet society due to their ethnic background, but they were also criminalized if they tried to hang on to their ancient traditions, ultimately resulting in a catch-22. Oftentimes, Jews were imprisoned under false pretenses, with the Soviet government accusing them of “Zionist crimes.” People with Jewish last names were subject to highly restrictive university quotas or banned from performing certain jobs. 

Following the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the oppression of Soviet Jewry drastically intensified. Desperate for a better life, thousands of Soviet Jews applied for exit visas, mostly to Israel. However, the Soviet regime almost always denied them such visas, citing bogus excuses, claiming that, sometime in the past, these Jews had been privy to information vital to Soviet national security, and, as such, allowing their emigration would put the Soviet Union at risk. These Jews came to be known as “refuseniks.”

During this period, Soviet Jews were portrayed as traitors or agitators. Requesting exit visas was considered an act of treason. In order to apply for exit visas, Jews first had to quit their jobs; however, this put them at risk of being accused of “social parasitism,” which was considered a crime. After having their visas refused, Jews were also then prevented from obtaining new work. Then, this joblessness was criminalized. Soviet Jews were stuck in an impossible living situation.



In 1968, a series of student-led protests broke out against the Communist government of Poland. The Polish government responded to the instability by scapegoating their now tiny post-Holocaust Jewish community. They enacted a massive “anti-Zionist” propaganda campaign, spreading conspiracies that Zionist were plotting to take over Poland. 

Poles were forced to denounce Zionism and Jews were purged from their positions in the government and other sectors, accused of holding dual loyalties to Israel. Many were arrested, beaten, and tortured. The government created lists of Jews, eerily echoing Nazi Germany. The 1968 Polish political crisis is sometimes called a “symbolic pogrom” because the severe disenfranchisement Jews experienced resulted in a series of suicides.

Some 15,000 out of 25,000 Jews in Poland were stripped of their Polish citizenship in 1968.



You know as well as I do that screaming at a Holocaust survivor or a child with cancer will not change the reality for Palestinians. 

Like the Soviet Union, Poland, and the Arab countries, you find even the most tenuous “connections” to Zionism to justify unleashing an atmosphere of terror and intimidation on Jews who have no say whatsoever on what the Israeli government does or does not do. 

No country — not a single one — that has ever outlawed Zionism has ever not persecuted its Jewish population, regardless of any given individual’s personal political views or relationship to Zionism. The truth is that antisemitism is a shapeshifting, mutating bigotry that molds Jews into whatever thing is most despised in any given society. If capitalism is what’s most despised, then Jews are capitalists; if it’s communism, Jews are communists; if it’s Christ-killers, Jews are Christ-killers; and if it’s Zionists…well, then “Zionist” is now just a euphemism for “Jew.”

It’s also true that when Jews are marginalized under the guise of anti-Zionism, it’s easy for just about anything that Jews do to be framed as “Zionist,” especially given Israel is such a huge core of Jewish identity. That’s why, for example, in the Soviet Union, the Soviets tried to “de-Hebraize” the Yiddish language, or why in Iraq, Jews were arrested for having Biblical Hebrew inscriptions. 

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