New York Times columnist defends anti-Zionism
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New York Times columnist defends anti-Zionism

Michelle Goldberg says as long as Israeli government de facto opposes Palestinian statehood, rejecting Jewish ethno-nationalism is legitimate, does not constitute anti-Semitism

New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg interviews author Margaret Atwood (not shown) during the ninth annual Women in the World Summit on April 13, 2018, in New York. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg interviews author Margaret Atwood (not shown) during the ninth annual Women in the World Summit on April 13, 2018, in New York. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

JTA — Michelle Goldberg, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote a piece defending anti-Zionism and saying it is not anti-Semitism.

“The conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is a bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand that depends on treating Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish people everywhere,” she wrote Friday. “Certainly, some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but it’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot.”

The column is a big deal because while The Times opinion page is generally left wing on Israel, most of its columnists who write on the country range from liberal to conservative Zionists.

Goldberg noted that two incoming Democratic congresswoman, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS. She wrote that many people call BDS anti-Semitic because it subjects Israel to a double standard and, in endorsing a return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, could lead to the end of a Jewish-majority state.

Demonstrators protesting outside the Spanish Government Delegation in Barcelona, on October 20, 2015. (Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images/via JTA/File)

Indeed, equating BDS with anti-Semitism is the consensus among a broad swath of Jewish organizations; last week, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, representing over 50 Jewish groups, called Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish” for his vocal support of BDS.

But Goldberg said that opposing Israel and calling for a binational Israeli-Palestinian state is legitimate. She criticized Israel for its government’s close relationship to the Trump administration and right-wing nationalist governments in Europe, as well as for West Bank settlement expansion and the Israeli government’s opposition to Palestinian statehood.

“As long as the de facto policy of the Israeli government is that there should be only one state in historic Palestine,” Goldberg wrote, “it’s unreasonable to regard Palestinian demands for equal rights in that state as anti-Semitic.”

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