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*Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in ‘Setting The Record Straight,’ the most recent series of articles from Jewish Press Online contributor, Alex Grobman, PhD 

The Soviets played a critical role in facilitating the use of language as a weapon of demonization and delegitimization against Israel by creating a political language connecting the former Soviet-styled antisemitism to the present one. In defining the political vocabulary about Israel and the Jewish people, the Soviets established the cultural foundations for a new type of political antisemitism that has become part of mainstream culture. [1]  


Vladimir Lenin, the Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist, and an expert on the art of writing hate propaganda, explained how to implement this disinformation. “The wording of our press campaign against our foes,” he said, “is calculated to provoke in the reader, hatred, disgust, contempt. The phrasing must be calculated not to convince but to destroy, not to correct the adversary’s mistake, but to annihilate his organization and wipe it off the face of the earth. This wording must really be of such a kind as to provoke the worst notions, the worst suspicions about the adversary; it must sow discord and confusion in the ranks and be the opposite of phrasing which would convince and correct.” [2]  

Lenin understood the critical need to broaden the base of supporters. “There was no sector of society,” he believed, “that cannot be enlisted in the revolutionary movement by abrasive sloganeering and hate targeting.” Locating the “pressure points” and “visible and accessible hate targets,” became the responsibility of the revolutionary psychological warfare experts. [3]  

Charge of Genocide  

The most prevalent use of this technique is the charge of “genocide,” which conveys the fallacious claim that “Israel is doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews.” Aside from being erroneous, this libel demeans the magnitude of the Holocaust and its uniqueness. [4] The Nazi theme is intended to refute, nullify and substitute the formidable Zionist Holocaust theme.  

Israel is Racist 

Racism is another important weapon described as “Israel equals racism.” This is based on historical concepts about racism. “One only has to replace the word ‘blacks’ with ‘Palestinians’ in the statement: ‘blacks are second class citizens in their own country.’ Other variants are ‘Israel practices segregation,’ ‘Israel conducts an Apartheid policy’ or ‘the territories are Bantustans.’ The danger is that the term “dehumanizes a certain segment of humanity in order to justify its expulsion before its destruction,” explains Georges-Elia Sarfati, a professor of linguistics. [5] 

Zionism is a Form of Colonialism 

The indictment that Zionism is a form of colonialism is another canard to discredit Israel asserts historian Martin Kramer. The goal is to deny that Zionism is the Jewish people’s national movement to re-establish a state in their historical homeland. Critics claim “It was a foreign-backed colonial project, by which settler-colonizers dispossessed an indigenous people. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a tragic clash of nationalisms between peoples who have comparable or even equal claims. This is not a contest between two nations, with national identities and narratives. It is a straightforward case of nineteenth century style colonialist dispossession, committed by a non-nation – a collection of land robbers – against a nation from time immemorial, the Palestinian people.” 

Zionism and Israel, “are therefore inherently unjust. They are not the rebirth of a long-suppressed and oppressed people. Zionism has produced the myth of Jewish nationhood. They have only racism: a false sense of their own supremacy and the inferiority of others, above all the Palestinian Arabs.” This is self- serving lie sustains the belief that Israel will eventually cease to exist, since colonialism is a transient phenomenon. “To acknowledge Zionism and Israel are driven by nationalism as deep as any other nationalism… is to accept Israel’s permanence, and even its de facto legitimacy.” [6]  

 Blaming Western Imperialism 

Historian Jacob Talmon viewed the attempt to blame Western imperialism as an excuse to attack Israel. “For decades the Arabs have been obsessed by memories of past glories and prophecies of future greatness, mocked by the injury and shame of having an alien and despised race injected into the nerve-centre of their promised pan-Arab empire, between its Asian and African halves, just at a time when the colonial powers had started their great retreat from their colonial possessions in Asia and Africa. To ease their feeling of humiliation, the Arabs would attribute all the Zionist success—Jewish settlement, the victories of 1948 and 1956 –to machinations of Western imperialism.” [7] 

As the representative of the Great Powers, Israel became the Arab scapegoat whenever they became frustrated in their attempt to transcend “centuries of social, economic and cultural development, and catch up” with the West. Talmon believed this anti-Israel fixation precipitated a methodical “Manichean metaphysic, the focus of an entire philosophy of history, with the Jew as the devil incarnate from the days of patriarch Abraham himself till his assumption of the role of the lynchpin of an American-Imperialist-Zionist world-plot against the Arab world, the Socialist Commonwealth and all colonial peoples.” [8]  

One has to appreciate the calculated effectiveness of these weapons asserts Sarfati. “These equivalencies are so evil because they attach the four major negative characteristics of Western history in the last century – Nazism, racism, colonialism and imperialism – to the State of Israel. They relate to a collective memory and are easily memorized. The language of these pseudo-equations and pseudo-equivalences supports every initiative hostile to Zionism and turns it into an act of progressiveness and humanism.” [9] 


[1] Joel S. Fishman, “The Cold-War Origins of Contemporary Anti-Semitic Terminology,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Number 517 (May 2-16, 2004); Joel Fishman, “The Big Lie and the Media War Against Israel: From Inversion of the Truth to Inversion of Reality,” Jewish Political Studies Review Volume 19 Numbers 1-2 (Spring 2007); “Language as a Communist Weapon : Consultation with Dr. Stefan T. Possony,” United States Congress House Committee on Un-American Activities (Washington, DC: United States Printing Office, March 2, 1959): 11-13, 23-24,32-33.  

[2] Fishman, op.cit; Eugene H. Methvin, The Riot Makers: The Technology of Social Demolition (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1970), 130; Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Language as a Tool against Jews and Israel: Interview with Georges-Elia Sarfati,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Number 17 (February 1, 2004). 

[3] Methvin, op.cit. 281, 283. 

[4]  Ibid;  Robert Wistrich, “Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Volume 16, Numbers. 3–4 (Fall 2004): 29; Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes To Israel (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1974), 175-176.;Bassam Tawil, “Palestinians’ Preferred Candidates: Terrorists Who Want To Kill Jews,” Gatestone (June 5, 2023); Hadeel Al Gherbawi, “Landslide victory for Hamas student bloc in West Bank reflects shift in popular support,” Al-Monitor (May 25, 2022); “PA: Israel is “an ultra-fascist ethnic cleansing state whose crimes surpass German Nazism” Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, official PA daily in Palestinian Media Watch (February 10, 2022). 

[5] Gerstenfeld, “Language as a Tool against Jews and Israel,” op. cit.; Alex Grobman, Nations United: How the United Nations Undermines Israel and the West (Green Forest, Arkansas: ‎Balfour Books, 2006). 

[6] Martin Kramer, “Is Zionism Colonialism? The Root Lie,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Number 35 (August 1, 2005). 

[7] Jacob Talmon, Israel Among The Nations (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970),169-170. 

[8]Ibid 170. 

[9] Gerstenfeld, “Language as a Tool against Jews and Israel,” op. cit. 

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Dr. Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He has an MA and PhD in contemporary Jewish history from The Hebrew university of Jerusalem. He lives in Jerusalem.