Photo Credit: Based on free image by Mike Steele

“It’s funny, isn’t it, that the Arabs, who place such value on military prowess, should have lost on the battlefield, while the Jews, who take pride in the power of their intellect, should have lost the war of ideas,” opined Ruth R. Wisse. “By declaring the illegitimacy of Zionism the Arabs not only robbed us of our rightful claims on them but charged us with the very crime of which they rightly stood accused….They deprived us of our moral advantage and reestablished us a suspect nation that threatens the human equilibrium.”  [1]

Since the Six Day War in 1967, Zionism has been subjected to a sustained campaign of delegitimization. As a result, Israel has been increasingly transformed in certain hostile quarters from having the right to exist into a state that has no rightful claim to being one—not only because she is misguided or her leaders are mistaken and maybe nefarious, but because she has lost all underlying justification for existing. Zionism has ceased to be an object of delegitimization to one of dehumanization. The danger is if this dehumanization begins to resonate in Western political culture— that a new stereotype, Zionism is racism and a Zionist is a racist, becomes part of acceptable western civilization. Once this stereotype penetrates every area of the culture, it becomes extremely challenging, if not impossible to eliminate. Moreover, the average person does not have the time or interest to evaluate the validity of these charges, especially if presented by authoritative sources. [2]


Process of Delegitimization and Dehumanization

The process of delegitimization and dehumanization began after the UN General Assembly passed the Partition Resolution (181[II] of November 29, 1947— calling for the partition of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Once a highly esteemed ideology of national liberation, recognized and respected by much of the free world, Zionism evoked lofty words like liberal democracy, liberty, openness—in other words, a humane society. Zionism has now become a pejorative term associated with colonialism, Nazis, oppression, racial discrimination and expropriation. These attacks prevent an objective examination of the issues, allow for honest discourse and create a climate within Israel a feeling of alienation from the rest of the world.  [3]

Dehumanization is being advanced under the guise of international humanistic values stresses Irwin Cotler, a leading international law expert. Human rights has become a new secular religion, with Israel portrayed as the prime human rights “violator… a neo-geopolitical antichrist of our times.”  [4]

In a soul-searching essay in Encounter magazine aimed at the “educated classes” after the 1967 defeat, Cecil Hourani, an adviser to President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, cautioned the Arabs against using the military option against Israel. Instead, he advised the Arabs pressure Israel at the UN or elsewhere gradually to transform Israel “from a European-dominated ‘exclusive’ Jewish State into a predominantly Arab-Jewish State, then the problem of whether or not to make a formal ‘peace’ becomes a secondary one.” In other words, a binational state.  [5]

“World Center For Antisemitism”

This strategy of advocating a binational state is effectively being employed at the UN and at other international human rights forums where delegations, journalists, academics and students sit and internalize anti-Zionist assaults by continuing passing anti-Israel resolutions, while ignoring the blatant human rights violations of countries throughout the world. [6] Israel is so consistently reviled at the UN that Abba Eban, who served as Israel’s first ambassador to the U.N., once remarked, “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.” [7] It was not by accident that Abba Eban once called the UN, “the world center for anti-Semitism.”

The transparency of this blatant bias against Israel was further revealed by a UN interpreter after the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee, composed of all 193 UN members, adopted nine resolutions condemning Israel for violating the human rights of Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, of Palestinian Arab refugees, and even of Syrians in the Golan Heights. Unaware that her microphone was still on, and assuming she was speaking only to colleagues, she could not contain her utter amazement at this disparate vote when she remarked:  “I think when you have… like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.” [8]

In discussing the UN’s anti-Israel bias, former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, placed this hostility in perspective: “What I saw at the Security Council reminded me of what it felt like to be bullied when I was a kid. I have no patience for bullies. They were kicking Israel just because—without facts. For me, it was disgusting… So I started talking about other issues going on in the Middle East, and then eventually Israel-bashing changed. Ambassadors got embarrassed after getting called out. Over time, it started to stop, but I think we have a long way to go.”

She found that “If you actually go into the quiet corners of the UN, most countries don’t hate Israel, most envy Israel.” [9]

Arab Success in Framing the Palestinian Arab/Israeli Conflict

The Arab success in framing the Palestinian Arab/Israeli conflict by making Israel the aggressor, has forced Israel to counter the fabrications, defend her actions and even justify her own raison d’être. Historian Joel Fishman calls this manipulation of language an “inversion of truth and reality…an assault on empirical and rational thought, the foundations of modern culture.” There is a pressing need to debunk the myths which have become such an integral element in the media war against Israel and to discredit those who disseminate them. [10]

Universities-Bastions of Hate   

The success in portraying Israel as the aggressor on university campuses have influenced “people of color, especially antisemitic Black groups such as Black Lives Matter,” who have even mobilized to identify and protest the plight of Palestinian Arabs asserts communications guru Gary Wexler. The Arabs manage to enlist the support of “every variety of students,” he said, including many “alumni of Jewish day schools and camps. Those students believe they have joined the other side because they were the victims of a propagandized Zionist education and have now seen the light.” They “are the victims of a propagandized, slow, well-crafted plan,” devised by Arabs and funded by the “European Union, Arab and Moslem governments, wealthy Arab people and their organizations.” [11]

After October 7, 2023, the intensity of this vicious hatred that has become a mass movement is quite ominous. Jews have learned that the destruction of their image “has always been the necessary precondition for physical attacks upon them,” observed Ruth Wisse. Jewish students have been intimated, harassed, and assaulted on college campuses that is being tolerated. [12]

A Final Note

The same leftists who maligned whites have now turned on the Jews. When whites were being denigrated, many Jewish leftists either supported the attacks or acquiesced to them. Now these Jews are being included among the “oppressors,” which is the same genocidal hatred that was exhibited in the George Floyd riots.

One of the variables antisemites can count on Ruth R. Wisse tells us, is that by persecuting such a small minority this virtually ensures that persecution of Jews will be seen as irrelevant to non-Jews. Although antisemites know they cannot count on the active involvement of all bystanders, they can invariably be certain of their “passive collusion.” Actually, the more lethal the antisemitism becomes, the more average citizens are disposed “to wish it away. [13]


[1] Ruth R. Wisse, If I Am Not For Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of The Jews (New York: The Free Press, 1992),13.

[2] Ehud Sprinzak, “Anti-Zionism: From Delegitimation to Dehumanization.” Fourum-53 (Fall 1984)1-3, 8); Yohanan Manor, To Right A Wrong: The Revocation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 Defaming Zionism (New York: Shengold Publishers, Inc., 1996); Yohanan Manor, “The Threat of Anti-Zionism,” (Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1984):16-17.); Irwin Cotler, “The Legitimacy of Israel,” Middle East Focus (January 1981): 10-11.

[3] Ehud Sprinzak, “The Damage of Anti-Zionism: A preliminary analysis,” The Threat of Zionism (Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1984):1-4; Abba Eban, “Israel, Anti-Semitism and the United Nations,” The Jerusalem Quarterly (Fall 1976), 117; Paul Marshall and Nina Shea, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Dror Eydar, “Canadian MP: Incitement is far worse than checkpoints,” Israel Hayom (August 9, 2013):11.); Cotler, “The Legitimacy of Israel,”op.cit.11); Irwin Cotler, “The tragic farce of the UN Human Rights Council,” National Post (March 6, 2014).

[4] Eydar, op.cit.

[5] Cecil Hourani, “The Moment of truth: towards a Middle East Dialogue,” Encounter (November 1967): 6-7.

[6] Dror Eydar, “Canadian MP: Incitement is far worse than checkpoints,” Israel Hayom (August 9, 2013).

[7] Silvan Shalom, “A fence built for peace,” The Guardian (February 2, 2004).

[8] Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel (November 14, 2013).

[9]Nikki Haley interviewed by Hillel Neuer (April 19, 2019).

[10 ] 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 Volume 1-2 (Spring 2007).

[11] Gary Wexler, The Inside Story of How Palestinians Took Over the World,” The Jewish Journal (November 15, 2023); To understand how the EU funds  groups hostile to Israel, please; Michael Bloomberg, “Jewish students bear the brunt of colleges’ culture of intolerance, conformity and ‘safe spaces.’” The Wall Street Journal(November 19, 2023).

[12] Ruth R. Wisse, If I Am Not For Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of The Jews (New York: The Free Press, 1992): 129; Natan Sharansky, in Academics Against Israel and the Jews, Manfred Gerstenfeld, Ed. (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2007).

[13] Wisse, If I am Not for Myself, op.cit.47.


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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.