Zionism and Anti-Zionism

In Europe the first widespread discontinuation of structural discrimination against Jews resulted from the French Revolution and the Dutch equivalent, the Batavian Revolution. During the course of the nineteenth century most European countries followed these examples emanating largely from the Enlightenment (145). The result was that this minority emancipated successfully in fits and starts until the victory of National Socialism in Germany in 1933.

Various circles, however, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, deplored the emancipation. Internally, the Zionist movement advocated preservation of Jewish identity (146). Externally, virulent anti-Semitism attempted to use the emancipation to project all social discontent onto the Jews – attempts that were sometimes government-sponsored, especially in the twentieth century. Stalin provided a remarkable interpretation of the Zionist desire to establish a state for the Jews: in 1934 he founded the Jewish Autonomous District, with its capital in Birobidzhan, in remote Siberia, near the border with Korea and China (147).

After the Second World War, guilt-ridden Europe welcomed the establishment of the state of Israel (148), although this seemed to instigate as many problems as it solved. Anti-Zionism became an argument in the Cold War across the Iron Curtain (149), while to many Arabs, who often regarded the State of Israel as an imperialist anomaly, opposition to and sympathy for the Palestinians remained important elements in politics (150). The IISH tries to document the peace movements that are often critical in politics, among Israelis (151-152) and Palestinians alike (153).