definition and description
Anti-Zionism is a term that has been used
to describe several very different political and religious points
of view, both historically and in current debates. All these points
of view have in common some form of opposition to Zionism, but
their diversity of motivation and expression is so great that
"anti-Zionism" cannot be seen as a single phenomenon.
This article examines opposition to Zionism both historically
and as it currently exists.
Zionism may be defined as "a political
movement that holds that the Jews are a nation, and as such are
entitled to a "Jewish National Homeland", and also as
"a movement to support the development and defense of the
State of Israel, and to encourage Jews to settle there."
Anti-Zionism can be opposition to either of these objectives or
While the term "anti-Zionism"
is not defined in modern dictionaries, its use dates back at least
to 1902, and was regularly used in the 1920s and 1930s in relation
to events in Palestine and controversies among Jews about issues
related to Zionism. It has regained wide currency in political
debate since the 1970s, as part of the controversy over the conflict
between Israel and the Palestinians. Before the Six-Day War of
1967, opposition to the existence of Israel was largely confined
to the Arab world and to the Soviet Union and its satellites.
Since the 1970s, however, opposition to the continuing Israeli
occupation of the Palestinian territories has led to mounting
criticism of Israel. This in turn has led to the growth of anti-Zionism:
the belief that creation of Israel (or at least the way Israel
had been created) was an error, an injustice, even a crime.
The defining characteristic of anti-Zionism
is therefore opposition to the existence of the State of Israel
(or at least opposition to the legitimization of its existence
on the basis that the Jews had "the right to return to their
homeland"), a state which was created as a result of the
activities of the Zionism movement between 1897 and 1948. Opposition
to the policies of the current Israeli government, or advocacy
of an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, is not
necessarily synonymous with anti-Zionism. Many Israelis also hold
these views, as do many Jewish and other supporters of Israel
Many Jews (and some non-Jews) argue that
some forms of anti-Zionism are also forms of anti-Semitism.
Since the support and defense of Israel has become a central
focus of Jewish life since 1948, many Jews see attacks on the
existence of Israel as inherently anti-Semitic. Moreover, some
anti-Semites use the term "Zionist" interchangeably
with or as a code-word for Jew, leading to a further blurring
of the distinction. Some argue that criticism of what they regard
as Jewish nationalism but not of other forms of nationalism implies
an anti-Semitic double standard. Nevertheless, a simple identification
between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is not accurate, for a
number of reasons, including the following:
_ First, while many, indeed most, self-declared anti-Semites
today use the rhetoric of anti-Zionism, historically some anti-Semites
were pro-Zionist. In pre-war Germany and Poland, for example,
some anti-Semitic politicians advocated the emigration or expulsion
of the Jews to Palestine as a solution to the "Jewish question."
_ Second, some Jews are anti-Zionists. Jewish anti-Zionism exists
mainly among socialist or radical Jewish intellectuals outside
Israel. There is also a minority among Orthodox Jews, both inside
and outside Israel, who reject Zionism as contrary to the will
of God. It is true that both these groups are small and are unrepresentative
of Jews, but the existence of even a small minority of anti-Zionist
Jews is sufficient to show that there is no necessary identification
between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
According to MIT linguistics professor
and political activist, Noam Chomsky: "the term has been
so debased by propaganda that it is better abandoned, in my opinion."
On April 28, 2004, in Berlin, Germany,
at the Conference on Anti-Semitism, United States Secretary
of State, Colin Powell, stated: "It is not anti-Semitic
to criticize the policies of the state of Israel, but the line
is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified,
for example, by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures."
In addition to a conventional definition
("hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority
group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination),
Webster's Dictionary gives a controversial second and third definition
to anti-Semitism, defining the word as "opposition to Zionism"
and "sympathy for the opponents of Israel". 
Types of anti-Zionism
The term "anti-Zionism" lumps
together two movements with widely divergent goals: those who
actively seek the physical destruction of Israel and the death
or expulsion of its Jewish inhabitants, and those who argue that
Israel ought to be voluntarily transformed into a state in which
Jews and Palestinians live together as equals.
The former category includes many Palestinian
and other Arab or Islamic militant groups. In the west it is confined
to small groups on the far left, although anti-Israeli rhetoric
in the west has certainly escalated over the past decade. Among
the governments of the Arab and Islamic world, advocacy of the
physical destruction of Israel is a minority position, which only
Iran now openly takes. Other Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia
and Syria may still desire the destruction of Israel but no longer
say so openly. Egypt and Jordan have formally recognised Israel,
and several other Arab states have tacitly done so. The Palestinian
leadership formally recognised Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo
Accords, although that recognition has been rendered inoperative
in practice since the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000.
Thus, although the governments of most
Arab and Islamic countries have continued to proclaim their opposition
to Zionism, most were likely willing in practice to accept the
settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute set out in the Oslo
Accords, which proposed the creation of a Palestinian state in
the occupied territories and the mutual recognition of Israel
and Palestine. Most, possibly all, governments would still accept
such a settlement if one were again put forward. Public opinion
in the Arab and Islamic world is another matter, but it is likely
that a settlement involving the creation of a Palestinian state
would lead to a decline in anti-Zionist rhetoric.
The second type of anti-Zionism, the advocacy
of the replacement of Israel by a state in which both Jews and
Palestinians live, is fundamentally different to the advocacy
of the physical destruction of Israel. It is now a view widely
held among people in many countries, including those Jews who
identify themselves as anti-Zionists, and also by many Palestinians.
These advocates maintain that such a settlement must be arrived
at voluntarily and by peaceful means, and argue that it would
be in the best interests of the Jewish inhabitants of Israel as
well as the Palestinians for a non-Zionist state to be created.
A third type of anti-Zionism holds that,
while the creation of the State of Israel, either per se
or by its character, may be judged to have been an error, there
can nevertheless be no return to the status quo ante.
The Zionist project has encountered opposition
ever since it was first articulated in the 19th century. It is
therefore possible to speak of a history of anti-Zionism reaching
back for more than a century. That history, however, embraces
several phenomena which have very little in common.
Jewish responses to Zionism
Before the 1930s the majority of the world's
Jews who were in a position to express an opinion could loosely
be considered anti-Zionist, in the sense that they did not actively
support the Zionist project for the creation of a Jewish state
in Palestine or elsewhere. Nevertheless, the use of the expression
"anti-Zionism" to describe their attitudes needs to
be heavily qualified.
In the 19th and early 20th century, for
example, Reform Jews of Germany used the word "Zionism"
to refer to a political and social movement which encouraged them
to emigrate to Palestine. Those Jews who did not want to emigrate
are sometimes described as anti-Zionists. But Reform Jews did
not reject the right of Jews to move to Palestine and reconstitute
a Jewish nation within its borders. Rather, they rejected the
view that they themselves had an obligation to do so.
Before the 1930s, the majority of Western
European and American Jews, whether religious or secular, took
the view that since Jews could live in conditions of safety and
freedom in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom,
Germany, and France, there was no need for a Jewish state, and
that for Jews to campaign for one would be harmful because it
would create the impression that Jews were not loyal to the countries
in which they lived. Many Jews also felt that the Jewish "mission"
had evolved to become universalistic and identified themselves
as citizens of their country who happened to practice the Jewish
Many 19th century and early 20th century
Orthodox Jews objected to Zionism because they rejected secular
and atheist attempts to build a secular and socialist Jewish state
in Palestine. Orthodox Jews in this group did not reject the right
of Jews to move to Palestine and reconstitute a Jewish nation
within its borders, but instead hoped that if any such state were
to be created, it would follow to some extent Jewish law and tradition,
and that its leaders would be religious Jews. Other Orthodox Jews
of that time objected to any creation of a Jewish state in Palestine
before the arrival of the messiah, though they accepted the right
of individual Jews to move to Palestine.
The many Jews, mainly in Europe, who supported
socialist or communist political ideas, took the view that the
defeat of anti-Semitism and the winning of civic equality for
Jews required participation in the common struggle against capitalism
and oppressive regimes, and that for Zionists to advocate emigration
to Palestine was a means of perpetuating the segregation of the
"ghetto" that they were fighting to overcome. (Some
Jewish socialists rejected this view and became Socialist Zionists).
The largest Jewish socialist organisation in Europe, the General
Jewish Labor Union, known as the Bund, strongly opposed Zionism
right up until the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
In the face of these varying forms of
opposition, Zionism remained a minority view among Jews until
the 1930s. The rise to power of Adolf Hitler, and the systematic
murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi regime in the
Holocaust, persuaded the majority of the world's surviving Jews
that a Jewish state was an urgent necessity. Ever since, the great
majority of Jews, religious and secular, have supported the state
A small minority of Jews, however, continue
to oppose Zionism on either political or religious grounds. Among
religious Jews, anti-Zionism is represented by some Orthodox groups
such as the Satmar group of Hasidic Jews. Satmar is possibly the
largest Hasidic group in the world, with over 100,000 followers.
There are also other Hasidic groups which are influenced by Satmar
and revere the group's late leader, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, as
an authority figure. Teitelbaum's book, VaYoel Moshe, is
an important exposition of one Orthodox position on Zionism, based
on a literal form of midrash (biblical interpretation).
According to Teitelbaum, God and the Jewish
people exchanged three oaths at the time of the Jews' exile from
_ That the Jewish people would not rebel against the non-Jews
that ruled over them;
_ That the Jewish people would not return to Israel (although
individual Jews could do so);
_ That God would not allow the non-Jewish world to persecute
the Jews excessively.
This was the position of most of the Orthodox
world until the Holocaust. Even today, many Orthodox Jews, including
the Agudat Israel party, which has participated in most of Israel's
coalition governments, accept the validity of these oaths. They
argue either that the Holocaust represented "excessive persecution,"
and therefore the Jews are released from the second oath, or,
more commonly, that although they are opposed to Zionism, Israel
exists as a state, and it would be better to cooperate with it
than to actively oppose it. Regardless of their position, almost
none of these groups opposes the idea of Jews as individuals emigrating
to Israel, but rather oppose the notion of Jewish sovereignty
over the land of Israel, either in its current form, or sometimes
in any form at all.
Opposition to the existence of Israel
among secular Jews is confined to a minority of socialist or other
radical Jews in western countries. Most of these do not argue
that the Jewish settlement of Palestine should be reversed or
that Israel should be destroyed by force. Rather they argue that
Israel as a specifically Jewish state should be replaced by a
secular state in which Jews and Arabs live together.
At the time when the Zionist settlement
of Palestine began, most of the Arab world was under the control
either of the Ottoman Empire or of one or other of the European
colonial powers. There was thus no official voice for the Arab
Towards the beginning of Zionist settlement
in Palestine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century,
a few Arabs were willing to consider alliance with the Zionist
movement; for instance, Emir Faisal, the son of Sherif Hussein
of Mecca, who helped lead the Arab nationalist revolt against
the Ottomans, signed the following agreement with Chaim Weizmann
at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference:
Mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between
the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest
means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations
through the closest possible collaboration in the development
of the Arab states and Palestine.
Furthermore, this agreement called for
the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and supported all necessary
to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine
on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish
immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive
cultivation of the soil.
However, Faisal had conditioned his acceptance
of the Balfour Declaration on the fulfillment of British promises
of independence to the Arab nations; these were not kept. Moreover,
he had little local support for his position; Arab Palestinian
leaders, among them the mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Qasim al-Husayni,
rejected this agreement made in their name. Although there was
little specifically Palestinian national consciousness before
the 1920s, the Arab inhabitants of Palestine rejected any suggestion
of Palestine being severed from the Arab-Islamic world. A Jewish
minority had lived in Palestine for centuries, with a second-class
dhimmi status (not applicable to most of the more recent
Zionist immigrants) conferred by Islamic law, and attacks against
them were rare and illegal; but the Arab Palestinians were strongly
opposed to the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish immigrant
state, and hence to any immigration that would threaten to change
the majority status of the Arab population. Thus, while small-scale
Jewish immigration (such as the "First Aliyah" of the
1880s) caused little trouble and indeed was often welcomed for
the economic development it would herald, larger influxes of Jews
were resisted strenuously.
Once the Balfour Declaration made it clear
that the Zionist project intended to establish a "Jewish
national home" in Palestine rather than merely to encourage
settlement there, Arab opposition grew much firmer, and has grown
steadily more so as the early Palestinian nationalists' fears
of becoming a minority in Palestine have been realized. As the
1920, 1929, 1936 and 1939 Arab-Jewish riots (see also Jerusalem
pogrom of April, 1920, 1929 Hebron massacre) occurred, hostilities
Nasser (Egypt), backed by other Arab states, throws Israel into
the sea. Pre-1967 War cartoon. Al-Farida newspaper, Lebanon
When the Arabs found themselves in a position
of conflict with Zionism, a Jewish movement, over the destiny
of Palestine, anti-Semitic sentiment also began to spread among
Arabs. Most of the Arabs knew little of the events in Europe during
the 1930s and 1940s. They asked why they should be expected to
give up their homeland to provide a refuge for the victims of
European anti-Semitism. Asked why Jews from Europe and America
would want to come and seize Palestine from the Arab-Islamic world,
some Arabs turned to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other
pieces of European anti-Semitic propaganda for explanations: the
Jews were an evil and malignant race, were the sworn enemies of
Islam, were agents of the western Christian-imperialist powers,
etc. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husayni, eventually allied
himself with the Nazi regime. Anti-Semitic views had become widespread
in the Arab world by the 1970s, and since then have been greatly
inflamed by the mounting Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict.
Arab anti-Zionism is also partly a reflection
of the internal politics of the Arab states. Most Arab governments
since the end of colonial rule have been more or less oppressive,
whether monarchies or dictatorships. Although oil wealth has given
prosperity to the smaller Gulf states, most Arab regimes have
provided notably less material well-being and political progress
to their large and rapidly expanding populations than, for instance,
comparable East Asian governments. Diverting popular anger towards
Israel and its western sponsors has thus served as a useful safety-valve
for some Arab regimes. Even in Egypt, which has formally recognised
Israel, the regime encourages its frustrated intellectual and
political class to indulge in anti-Zionist rhetoric, partly as
a means of drawing attention from domestic political issues.
Modern anti-Zionism in the Arab world
comes from a variety of ideological backgrounds, different ones
being emphasised by different groups or in different countries-local
nationalism, pan-Arab (or more rarely pan-Syrian) nationalism,
Islamism, socialism, and anti-colonialism, to name a few-and is
nearly universal as a popular sentiment. (Among Palestinians themselves,
of course, the motivations are often more concrete than ideological,
and would deserve a separate treatment.) The principal objections
to Zionism found in all varieties of Arab anti-Zionism are the
views that the Palestinians' land was unjustly taken from them
by the British Empire (through the Balfour Declaration) and subsequently
by Israel, first in 1948 and then again starting in 1967; that
this process continues today in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
and that the Palestinians are still suffering from its consequences.
Different ideologies, however, emphasize different aspects of
this, and differ on the appropriate response.
popular in Arab countries with violent experiences of colonial
rule-focus especially on the parallels with cases such as Algeria
or Rhodesia, seeing it in terms of a foreign power encouraging
immigration into the country of a group which then sought to dominate
the country. In this narrative, the natural means of combating
Zionism is considered to be Palestinian revolution, and the ends
would be expulsion or weakening of the Zionists seen as occupiers.
Pan-Arabist narratives-which enjoyed their
heyday in the 1960's in the Nasser era, but have declined since-emphasize
the idea of Palestine as a part of the Arab world taken by others
(partly overlapping with the previous.) As such, Israel is seen
as both a symbol of Arab weakness and-insofar as it geographically
cuts the Arab world into two noncontiguous halves-an obstacle
to any union of the Arab world. In this narrative, the natural
means of combating Zionism is Arab nations uniting and attacking
Israel militarily. Pan-Syrian narratives, promoted mainly by Syria,
are essentially parallel.
Local nationalist narratives, outside
of Palestinians, emphasize the idea of Israel as a threat to the
nation (commonly citing extremist Israeli individuals' dreams
of a nation stretching "from the Nile to the Euphrates").
Among Palestinians, these emphasize other issues-such as the Palestinian
refugee problem, and the fact that over 90% of the pre-1948 British
Mandate of Palestine is controlled by Israel - and are best treated
Arab socialist narratives differ little
from those of the rest of the world, which are covered in other
sections of this article.
cover of Islam and the Problem of Israel (1980)
Islamist narratives, originally more popular
among the more conservative nations of Arabia itself but now fairly
widespread, emphasize the idea of Palestine as Muslim land-land
once ruled by Muslims and once having a Muslim majority-taken
by a non-Muslim political power, and regard it as the duty of
Muslims to retake this land. They also emphasize the suffering
of the Palestinians, seeing it as Muslims' duty to aid them against
what they consider to be their oppressors. In this narrative,
the natural means of combating Zionism is considered to be jihad,
whether by Palestinians or others.
An example of this narrative is the work
of Ismail al-Faruqi (1926-1986). In Islam and the Problem of
Israel (1980), he argued that Zionism was a "disease"
largely influenced by European romanticism far removed from the
religion of the Jews, Judaism. He opposed the "Zionist occupation"
of Palestine and called for the dismantling of Israel and the
launch of a jihad. He said that the injustice caused by
Zionism is such that there is no means of stopping it short of
war. From the standpoint of Islam, Faruqi wrote, Zionism represents
apostasy against Judaism.
Before the 1970s, serious criticism of
Israel, let alone opposition to its existence, was almost unknown
in the western countries, except to some extent in the Communist
parties. Indeed there was an almost completely uncritical acceptance
of Israel's projected image of itself as a nation of brave pioneers
making the desert bloom. This was partly motivated by genuine
admiration for the efforts of the pioneering Israelis, partly
by a sense of guilt about the failure of the west to prevent the
Holocaust or to take in the Jewish refugees of the 1930s and 1940s,
and partly by relief that the "Jewish question" had
now finally been solved by the creation of a Jewish state. Pro-Zionist
sentiment in the west peaked in the 1960s, epitomised by the Hollywood
epic Exodus (1960) and by support (except of France) for
"plucky little Israel" in the Six-Day War.
The tide of opinion turned after 1970,
however, as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), formed
in 1964, began to conduct its campaign of "armed struggle"
against Israel, through terrorism in Europe against Jewish and
Western targets. These acts included the hijacking and destruction
of passenger airliners and the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Summer
Olympics. These events coincided with the wave of radicalism which
swept through the western intellectual world in the wake of the
anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960s (see The Sixties). Many
Western radicals and Third World activists came to see the Palestinians
as an oppressed people like the South Vietnamese or the Black
South Africans, and the PLO as a national liberation movement
of the type they supported in other places.
This wave of radicalism soon passed, but
it left an intellectual climate in most western countries much
less sympathetic to Israel than had existed before 1967. This
anti-Israeli sentiment might have faded had there been an Arab-Israeli
settlement, as seemed possible for example after President Anwar
Sadat's visit to Israel and the peace treaty between Israel and
Egypt in 1979. But the repeated disappointments of Middle East
diplomacy, and the spread of the opinion that the Palestinians
were the victims of western neo-colonialism in the form of a Jewish
settler state planted in the Arab world, created a permanent reservoir
of anti-Zionist sentiment among western intellectuals, including
some Jews. Maxime Rodinson's 1973 book Israel: A Colonial-Settler
State? was influential in promoting this view.
The active expression of western anti-Zionism
has tended to ebb and flow in relation to events in the Middle
East. When developments seem positive, such as during the period
of the Oslo Accords and the prime ministership of Yitzhak Rabin,
and again during the Barak-Arafat negotiations in 1999-2000, western
opinion, even on the anti-Zionist left, welcomes the reconciliation
between Israel and the Palestinians. When events turn out badly,
such as after the assassination of Rabin and again with the launching
of the Second Intifada and the election of the Sharon government,
western anti-Zionism flares up again.
Most Western anti-Zionism is of the second
or the third type described above, advocating coexistence rather
than expulsion: very few western intellectuals actively desire
the physical destruction of Israel, and most would welcome any
settlement if it was acceptable to the Palestinians.
Most western anti-Zionists deny vehemently
that they are anti-Semites or that anti-Zionism can be equated
with anti-Semitism. Israelis and Zionists outside Israel often
respond that a demand to destroy or abolish the state of Israel
is intrinsically anti-Semitic, since Israel represents the fulfillment
of the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination.
Both these positions are in most cases sincerely held, and the
conflict arises from the absence of an agreed definition of key
terms such as "anti-Semitism" and "Zionism,"
and the fact that many western anti-Zionists either do not accept
the concept of a right to national self-determination (for any
nation, not just a Jewish nation) or do not accept that Israel
represents its fulfillment. This debate is complicated by two
further factors: the habit of genuine anti-Semites of using the
term "Zionist" as a synonym and/or euphemism for "Jew,"
and the tendency for radical Islamist elements to use the rhetoric
of traditional European anti-Semitism. These rhetorical cross-currents
make it almost impossible for Zionists and anti-Zionists to converse
across the gulf of hostility and incomprehension which has grown
up over the past 30 years.
The distinction between anti-Zionism and
anti-Semitism is, however, recognised by some Jewish commentators.
Jonathan Sacks, The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations
of the Commonwealth, said in 2002: "I see three distinct
positions: legitimate criticism of Israel, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
Anti-Zionism can certainly become a form of anti-semitism when
it becomes an attack on the collective right of the Jewish people
to defensible space. If any people in history have earned the
right to defensible space it is the Jewish people. But anti-Semitism
and anti-Zionism are different things. We're hearing more voices
in Britain now who are denying Israel's right to exist and I have
to fight that - but I don't confuse that with an assault on me
as the bearer of a religious tradition."  However, in
2003 he said "Today's anti-Semitism has three components:
The first is anti-Zionism, the notion that Jews alone have no
right to a nation of their own, a place in which to govern themselves.
No. 2-all Jews are Zionists and therefore legitimate targets like
Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl. No. 3, Israel and
the Jewish people are responsible for all the troubles in the
world, from AIDS to globalization. Put those three propositions
together and you have the new anti-Semitism." 
spider (an image traditionally used by anti-Semites to dehumanize
Jews) is Zionism, the web is woven from: slander, lies, provocations,
Anti-Sovietism, Jewish question, anti-Communism. Newspaper Soviet
Moldavia, August 27, 1971
In the Soviet Union from the 1920s Zionism
was viewed as a form of "bourgeois nationalism," and
its active promotion among Jews was banned. During the years of
Joseph Stalin's rule Soviet Jews were frequently attacked as "Zionists,"
although the majority of Soviet Jews at that time were not Zionists.
After the creation of Israel, however, many Soviet Jews began
to sympathise with Israel, arousing further antagonism from the
government, who saw Zionism as a potential source of disloyalty.
With the development of Soviet interest in the Middle East from
the 1950s onward, official Soviet anti-Zionism grew more intense,
and began to borrow slogans and themes from traditional Russian
Since Israel was emerging as a close Western
ally and the specter of Zionism raised fears of internal dissent
and opposition, during the Cold War Soviet Jews were classed as
possible traitors. The Communist leadership liquidated almost
all Jewish organizations, with the exception of a few token synagogues.
These synagogues were then placed under police surveillance, both
openly and through the use of informers.
The anti-Semitic campaign of 1948-1953
against so-called "rootless cosmopolitans," the fabrication
of the Doctors' plot, the rise of "Zionology" and subsequent
activities of official organizations such as the Anti-Zionist
committee of the Soviet public were officially carried out under
the banner of "anti-Zionism," but the use of this term
could not obscure the anti-Semitic content of these campaigns,
and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged
as a major human rights issue in the West. See Jackson-Vanik amendment.
In 1975, the Soviet Union sponsored the
UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, discussed below.
In parallel with the rise of anti-Zionist
sentiment in the west was increased hostility towards Israel at
the international level. During the 1950s and 1960s Israel made
great efforts to cultivate good relations with the newly independent
states of Africa and Asia, and hostility to Israel was confined
to the states of the Arab-Islamic world and the Communist block.
But a combination of inter-related circumstances in the 1970s
radically changed this situation.
The first was the increased hostility
to Israel following the onset of the Israel-Palestinian conflict
in the late 1960s, as described above. The second was the decline
in the prestige of the United States following the end of the
Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. The third was increased
economic power of the Arab oil-producing states in the aftermath
of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the resulting energy crisis.
The fourth was the rise of radical anti-western regimes in a series
of African countries. The fifth was the increased diplomatic and
economic presence of the Soviet Union, China and Cuba in Africa.
This anti-Zionist trend was manifested
in organisations such as the Organization for African Unity and
the Non-Aligned Movement, which passed resolutions condemning
Zionism and equating it with racism and apartheid during the early
1970s. It culminated in the passing by the United Nations General
Assembly of Resolution 3379 in November 1975, declaring that "Zionism
is a form of racism." This resolution was passed by 72 votes
to 35, with 32 abstentions. The 72 votes in favour consisted of
all 20 Arab states, another 12 Muslim-majority states (including
Turkey), 12 Communist countries, 14 non-Muslim African states,
and 14 other states (including Brazil, India, Mexico and Portugal).
By 1991 this international situation had
been completely reversed following the collapse of the Soviet
Union, the American-led victory over Iraq in the Gulf War and
the return of the United States to global political and economic
dominance. On December 16, 1991 the General Assembly passed Resolution
4686, repealing the resolution 3379, by a vote of 111 to 25, with
13 abstentions and 17 delegations absent. Thirteen out of the
19 Arab countries, including those engaged in negotiations with
Israel, voted against the repeal, other six were absent. No Arab
country voted for repeal. The PLO denounced the vote. All the
ex-Communist countries and most of the African countries who had
supported Resolution 3379 voted to repeal it. Only three non-Muslim
countries voted against the resolution: Cuba, North Korea and
Vietnam. Nevertheless, only one Muslim-majority country (Albania)
voted for the resolution: the rest abstained or absented themselves.
International anti-Zionism, like domestic
anti-Zionism in many countries, rises and falls in parallel with
events in the Middle East, and the American-led invasion of Iraq
in 2003 saw some revival of the anti-Zionist rhetoric of the 1970s
in some countries. But the combination of forces which gave anti-Zionism
such apparent strength in the 1970s has disappeared. The collapse
of the Communist Bloc, the decline of the Non-Aligned Movement,
and the weakened economic power of the Arab oil-producing states
have all combined to lower the profile of anti-Zionism outside
the Islamic world.