Differentiating: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism & Anti-Occupation

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D. Psychologist – Ethicist - Expert on the Psychology of Enmity www.drzur.com - droferzur@drzur.com


Dr. Zur is a former Israeli lieutenant & paratrooper in the Israeli army, who served in Gaza & left Israel for moral reasons. Now he reflects on the current (2023/2024) conflict in Gaza and Israel and specifically on its applications for antisemitism.

Addressing what is happening in Gaza & Israel these days (2023/24) & understanding antisemitism requires general education and political & interfaith understanding. It is important to differentiate between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, & anti-Occupation. Clearly distinguishing between these 3 can help us better navigate the complexities and establishing more informed civil discourse and ultimate solution and . . . peace.


Antisemitism is hostility, prejudice, hatred and/or discrimination against Jews, as history has demonstrated by pogroms and Nazi Germany. It manifests through society and human behavior in various forms, including negative stereotypes, unequal treatment, hatred and acts of violence against Jewish individuals and institutions. Holocaust denial and minimization further perpetuate this prejudice. There has been a deep-rooted history of antisemitism that has led to severe persecution and genocide of Jews throughout history. (Clarifying note: Beyond religion, Jewishness is also a culture, peoplehood, ethnic Identity & shared history)


Anti-Zionism is the opposition to Zionism, originating not as a religious word but a movement supporting the establishment and maintenance of a Jewish state in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel. Paradoxically, Anti-Zionism is rooted in the recognition of Zionism as Racism. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” for example, a slogan claimed by Palestinians & Hamas, on US campuses and worldwide, is an Anti-Zionist slogan suggesting the dismantling of the State of Israel as it refers to the geographical location between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, historically known as Palestine, which today includes Israel and the occupied territories. In recent times, the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism has pretty much faded away.

It is important to understand that not all Jews are Zionists, and often there are differing political views in regard to Israel among Zionists & Non-Zionists (see book Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism). Please, note: That one does not need to be a Jew to be a Zionist. A Zionist is someone/anyone who believes in and support Israel as a Jewish-national state. While Zionism began in the late 19th century as a national liberation movement for Jews, seeking to create a homeland free from persecution. Some anti-Zionists argue politically, opposing the establishment of the state of Israel due to its impact on Palestine, advocating the rights and return of Arab-Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948 War of Independence. Others may oppose Zionism religiously, as certain ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe the establishment of a Jewish state should await the coming of the Messiah. Since 10/7 the vitriolic combination of antisemitism & anti-Zionism is the hybrid form of what has been called ‘the new antisemitism.’ It's important to distinguish between legitimate political criticism of Israel and of Zionism. Students and others engaged in these demonstrations are either overtly or ignorantly using antisemitic rhetoric in the guise of pro- Palestinian nationalism.


Anti-Occupation: Stop the military occupation of the West Bank & control of Gaza and give Palestine the state they deserve as a result of the 1967 war. After the war of ‘67 when Jordan didn’t want West Bank and Egypt didn’t want Gaza, Israel has since occupied the West Bank and occupied & controlled Gaza. In short: occupation needs to stop and Palestinians should have their own one state with a port in Gaza and two international airports. There are over 600,000 religious Jewish settlers in the West Bank, they should either leave, like the settlers in the Sinai and Gaza did or submit to Palestinian rule.

In Conclusion:

People, on US campuses and worldwide, confuse Anti-Israeli-Occupation in Gaza & the West Bank with Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism. In fact, Anti-Occupation is used as an excuse for Anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism in its current form in Europe and on the Left in the US is riddled with Anti-Semitism

Additional readings by Dr. Zur on the topics of Israel, Gaza, military experience and moral junctions:

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