U.S. President Joe Biden, who is currently visiting Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia, reiterated the strong friendship and strategic alliance between Israel and the United States, paid tribute to Holocaust survivors, and even self-identified as a Zionist, at a time when the term is being demonized by Israel’s detractors.
Outraged by this show of support for the Jewish State, individuals and groups in the anti-Israel movement in the United States assailed President Biden while invoking malicious and antisemitic tropes about Zionism and Israel, as part of an attempt to associate both with racism and settler-colonialism.
Much of the inflammatory rhetoric focused on President Biden’s self-identification as a Zionist, specifically his comment, “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist.” Some of President Biden’s critics made the conspiratorial allegation that President Biden and the U.S. “ruling class” are Zionists because it serves their economic interests. This allegation plays into antisemitic tropes of Jews and money, as well as of Jews and global power.
Others blatantly demonized Zionism and delegitimized Israel’s right to exist by referring to the Jewish state as “the illegal Zionist entity,” invoking antisemitic rhetoric to attack this important diplomatic event. Others conflated the U.S. and Israeli contexts by referring to both countries as “settler-colonial states” that use the same “tools of repression,” a hallmark tactic of anti-Israel activists.
The following are examples from recent days:
- Americans for Justice in Palestine tweeted, “In the midst of his visit to Israel, @POTUS & @yairlapid unashamedly parade their joint commitment to Zionism, the political ideology animating ethnic cleansing & apartheid against Palestinians. Seems the two leaders have made racism a cause for pride.” (Emphasis added.)
- American Muslims for Palestine, which is affiliated with AJP Action, amplified this trope, saying, “When racism becomes a cause for pride!”
- The U.S.-based Palestinian Youth Movement condemned President Biden’s visit in the strongest terms on Facebook: “From Palestine to the camps to the diaspora, our position remains a unified one: no compromise on normalization, no compromise on Zionism. Joe Biden is not welcome in Palestine, just as the US or any military satellites that it creates will never be welcome in our lands. Until liberation and return, the struggle continues!” (Emphasis added.)
- New York-based anti-Israel group Within Our Lifetime posted on Instagram: “Biden Is Not Welcome In Palestine! — Tomorrow, July 13th, Joe Biden is set to travel to occupied Palestine in his first trip to the region as President to reaffirm the U.S. empire’s support for the illegal zionist entity and to push for further diplomatic normalization and “defense cooperation” between the israeli occupation and reactionary Arab governments.” (Emphasis added.)
- Commenting on President Biden’s statement, “You need not be a Jew to be a Zionist,” Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) reiterated its opposition to Zionism: “In fact, as Jews fighting for justice and freedom for all, we *oppose* Zionism — the settler-colonial movement that led to the establishment of Israel, an apartheid state on land stolen from massacred and exiled Palestinians.”
- Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, echoed JVP, tweeting: “Biden is right. Many Christians are zionist. That’s why it not antisemitic to be anti-zionist. It is the moral thing to stand against apartheid and racism.”
- Quoting remarks President Biden had made in 2013, “If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved,” JVP also invoked the antisemitic tropes of Jews and money, as well as of Jews and power in its tweet: “Non-Jewish members of the US ruling class like Joe Biden are Zionists because their economic and political interests are aligned with those of Israel.”
- The Mapping Project, an antisemitic website which defines itself as an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist collective, promoted on Twitter a statement condemning President Biden’s visit by Samidoun, a Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network: “Biden’s visit has been touted as an attempt to form an ‘Arab NATO’ through normalization with Israel, the Zionist settler-colonial project in the region. Such a project obviously threatens the interests not only of the Palestinian people but of all the peoples of the region.” (Emphasis added.)
- The BDS National Committee also condemned President Biden’s visit on Instagram, falsely accusing Israel of apartheid: “The #BDS movement fiercely condemns @POTUS visit to the region. @JoeBiden's administration, like those before it, enables Israel’s settler-colonialism & apartheid by providing billions in military funding & shielding it from accountability.”
- The U.S.-based anti-Israel group Adalah Justice Project referred to both Israel and the United States as “settler-colonial states” that use the same “tools of repression.”