Ingber ’15: Zionism is not racism

Opinions Columnist

On Nov. 10, 1975, the United Nations adopted a resolution in which it declared, “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” The United States staunchly opposed the resolution, with then-Ambassador to the United Nations (and future Democratic Senator) Daniel Patrick Moynihan noting before the vote, “The United Nations is about to make anti-Semitism international law.” The resolution was ultimately repealed about 16 years later.

Last week, during a protest outside the Brown/RISD Hillel in response to Sgt. Benjamin Anthony’s talk on his experiences in the Israel Defense Forces — a protest that was completely legitimate, and conducted in a peaceful and appropriate manner — I saw signs that read, “Zionism is racism.”

As I sit back and read The Herald and observe the recent events on campus surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I have noticed a recurring theme among those who reject Israel’s legitimacy as a nation amongst the community of nations. These voices suggest that the idea of Jewish self-determination, which is the very existence of a Jewish state, is inherently racist and therefore illegitimate.

It is this alarming notion that compelled me to write this column. I have no intention of suggesting that Jewish self-determination should be used as a veil to cover crimes against the Palestinian people. In fact, many members of the “pro-Israel” community, especially at Brown, are vocal about certain policies implemented by the Israeli government that undermine efforts to achieve peace. But to suggest that Jewish-self determination is illegitimate is to deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination that appears in Article 1 of the United Nations charter.

In a recent column, David Katzevich ’16 suggests that he yearns to love Israel, but cannot due to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. He suggests a single state between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea would alleviate this oppression. Yet this state would undoubtedly not be a Jewish one, nor would it be called “Israel.” By definition, Israel is a state with a Jewish character. Thus, it frustrated me that Katzevich purports to want to love Israel yet opposes the very aspect of Israel — its Jewishness — that makes Israel the Jewish homeland.

First and foremost, contrary to what Katzevich suggests, Israel was not formed because of the Holocaust. Zionism dates back to the late 1800s, and the 1917 Balfour Declaration from the British government that acknowledged the right to establish a Jewish homeland in the region. In 1937, the Peel Commission recommended dividing historic Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. All of this occurred before the final solution was developed at Wannasee or before the majority of European Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

Irresponsibly and dangerously, Katzevich argues that because Jews in America can live successfully, this “should serve as a lesson to Israel” that there is no need for a Jewish state. While I am thankful that I can live without fear of anti-Semitism in the United States, Katzevich has clearly not observed nations around the world. Europe is an increasingly unsafe place for Jews. Thousands gather in French cities chanting anti-Semitic slogans. In March 2012, four Jews were killed in a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. To think that Jews live safely around the world not only is inaccurate, but resembles exactly what the well-assimilated Jews of Germany thought to themselves in the 1930s.

It seems that those who consider Zionism inherently racist do not understand what Zionism is. This thinking implies that Judaism is a race. Jews in Israel are of all different races, descending from areas from Eastern Europe to Yemen to Ethiopia. While I do believe certain Israeli policies have adverse affects on certain races, suggesting that “Zionism is racism” ignores that the Jewish people are a nation. There are Arab ministers in government, members of Parliament and even justices on the Israeli Supreme Court. I do not write this to excuse some of the policies pursued by the Israeli government that many disagree with. Rather, I want to make clear that Zionism — self-determination for the Jewish people — is not illegitimate. While self-determination for every other people is accepted as unquestionable, self-determination for the Jewish people is considered racist. Why is Israel condemned as “ethnocentric,” as Katzevich puts it, but self-determination for other groups is okay?

This is not to say that Zionism precludes non-Jews from living in Israel, but to say that Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is the realization of a millenia-old dream that began after Jews were expelled by the Romans in 70 A.D. As the Jewish holiday of Passover begins, I want to remind everyone that the Seder, the ritual meal, typically ends with the phrase “next year in Jerusalem.” We have been saying that sentence for hundreds of years, long before the pogroms in Russia, long before the Holocaust and long before 1948. Jews have always yearned for self-determination, and that will never cease. Terrible bouts of anti-Semitism are simply constant reminders about what happens when that right to self-determination is abridged.


Zach Ingber ’15 can be reached for comment at

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  1. Dear Zach,

    How did you reach the conclusion that Zionism is the right to self-determination? These two notions are not even similar. In any internationally constituted legal declaration, you will see that the right to self-determination is only granted for people who constitute the majority in a particular territory; whereas Israel’s expansionist foreign policy targets the territories highly populated by non-Jewish people. Zionism dictates the occupation of “the Land of Israel” that can be translated as the invasion of Palestinian territories, and more. One cannot simply invade other people’s lands, based on a “God-given inheritance” and call it “self-determination”. And please no life-size photos.

    • talmid chochem says:

      jarrah, you’d better get out of the usa because it was built on native american lands, and it would be the height of hypocrisy to reap the benefits of that mass slaughter and land expropriation. what’s that you say? that doesn’t count because the colonial settlers weren’t jews? i’m sure you’d be much better off with a saudi arabian education because we all know how tolerant and progressive they are.

      • At least native americans are given equal rights. Not apartheid.

        • oh, a libtard says:

          uh, they’re given their own sovereign lands and separate laws (including those that allow Native American tribes to own and operate casinos with exclusivity)

          • And they can live anywhere else , other than reservations. Kinda nice of u to forget that.

  2. Zach Ingber is back !!! After hiding in open sight while the Hillel held an openly racist and discriminatory conference Zach is back !!!

    Ever noticed he won’t say a word about the grand Israeli settlement enterprise. Its all generalized mumbo about Israel this and Israel that. But not a word about the Israeli settlement pogrom on the Occupied Territories. Which by the way is enforced by stripping other people (Palestinians) of their rights. Apartheid at its finest !!!

    And of course the same old pretend that his religion has the right to strip other people of their rights. Yay !!! If i have a dream of living somewhere do i have a right to go occupy that place and kick out existing residents.

    Welcome back Zach !!! We missed your hypocrisy!!!

    • Hypocrisy, eh?

      And you, mxm, what of you? As a waterboy – a water carrier – for Islam and the Palestinians when was the last time you mentioned Islam’s barbarity against Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Animists or Jews?

      I don’t remember you mentioning Muslims starving Palestinians to death in Syrian refugee camps. Why not?

      When was the last time you wrote about the endless slaughter of Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds at the hands of , well, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Never? Why not?

      You are the very definition of hypocrisy. Your accusing others of it defines Orwell’s life work.

    • Tsar Putin says:

      ‘settlement pogrom’ Aren’t you cute with your little word play. You need to use more exclamation points!!!!!!!!!! Because we missed your screaching.

    • Wow. That first sentence in your third paragraph may be the most anti-Semitic comment I have ever read on the BDH website. Congratulations.

      Now please tell me you have nothing to do with Brown. If you had said or written such an inaccurate, offensive and derogatory comment in your admissions process, there would be no way Brown would have anything to do with you. And if you cannot understand this, you are blind to go along with your current state of being hateful.

      Shame on you.

      • “And of course the same old pretend that his religion has the right to strip other people of their rights.” – What’s anti-semitic about this ? Zach (and you) wish to conveniently side step the issue that his definition of self-determination comes at the expense of another peoples rights.

        Would u agree if your rights were stripped ? Hypocrisy much ?

        • Wow still. You do not get the difference between Jews as a people and Judaism as a religion. And due to such ignorance, you indeed have made an anti Semitic comment. That and your other postings show your colors: prejudist and hypocritical. Like I said before, I truly hope you are a troll and not someone actually connected to Brown. Take a good hard look at yourself.

          • Still continuing with your self serving rant. Well, i guess anything to avoid discussing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land.

          • Ethnic cleansing… When their population multiples dramatically year on year in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. You are not a math concentrator, are you?

            As for self serving rants, as it says above, look in the mirror.

            You really are a waste.

          • Why ? During apartheid, when blacks were being ethnically cleansed to Bantustan, did their population decrease.

            Gosh. Didn’t know that population statistics were a requirement for apartheid and/or ethnic cleansing.

            Typical Hasbara.

  3. really bad says:

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan noting before the vote, “The United Nations is about to make anti-Semitism international law.”

    Stop hiding behind Daniel Patrick Moynihan, you coward. You think anyone who opposes the Zionist project is a racist and you don’t even have the guts to say it. You have to use a lousy senator as your mouthpiece. Disgusting, Ingber.

    • No, the UN is not a club of morons. It has become a
      multi-billion-dollar bureaucracy of career wonks, parasites, moochers, useless
      diplomats, well-paid support staff, professional courtiers, ass-kissers,
      flesh-eating zombies, and altruist snobs, paid for largely by U.S.
      contributions and dues. The UN is a signal instance of how we are paying for
      our own destruction.

      There isn’t a single UN agency that has done a lick of good. It
      has never solved the “problems” of hunger, disease, and poverty, and
      never will, because it has a vested interest in perpetuating those things. The
      only good thing it has done was to approve the creation of Israel, and that was
      in the way of an apology for the West not having opposed Nazi Germany early
      enough to prevent WWII, as a kind of compensation for the Holocaust.

      No good could ever come from a formal association with what has
      become a clique of dictatorships, authoritarian régimes, welfare states, and
      feudal monarchies, for the alleged purpose of advancing “peace.” But
      ever since its creation the world has seen more strife, turmoil, butchery,
      misery, and slaughter than in any other period of human history, except perhaps
      during the Dark Ages, when the competition in death was between disease and

    • Tasr Putin says:

      Hard to hide behind a corpse.

  4. confused not trolling says:

    By definition, Israel is a state with a Jewish character.

    Jews in Israel are of all different races, descending from areas from Eastern Europe to Yemen to Ethiopia. While I do believe certain Israeli policies have adverse affects on certain races, suggesting that “Zionism is racism” ignores that the Jewish people are a nation.

    i just don’t understand what jewishness is then? especially in the context of statehood/nationhood? is it like saying america is a christian nation?

  5. Buttz Henderson says:

    white south africans thought god granted them their land, white americans thought god granted them their land, slaveholders thought god ordained them above their slaves, the british and roman empires thought god had ordained their rulers to govern the world. sorry buddy, your racism isn’t special just cuz god said so. :'(

    zionism is indefensible, hillel sucks, and so do you. also, big LOL over here at “resembles exactly what the well-assimilated jews of germany thought to themselves in the 1930s.” because that’s definitely the sort of situation we’re looking at right now in the world.

    • Is this how you behave in class, senor buttz?

    • There are 57 OIC member states but only one Jewish state – a Jewish state with a 20% Muslim demographic profile – but let’s ignore these facts and pick on Jews.

      Let’s call a spade a spade, Buttz, whether you know it or not you are an anti-Semite.

      I love it when Muslims lecture us about diversity or accuse
      Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid or intolerance. What follows is the percentage Muslim
      demographic in the following countries.
      Bear in mind when studying these statistics that in every one of these
      countries 1,400 years ago (or less) Islam did not even exist.

      Afghanistan 100% Muslim
      (Once Buddhist, Hindu)

      Algeria 99%
      Muslim (Once Berber)

      Bahrain 100% Muslim
      (Once Zoroastrain, Christian)

      Iraq 95% Muslim (Once Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian)

      Iran 98% Muslim (Once Christian, Zoroastrian, etc…)

      Morocco 99%
      Muslim (Once Berber, Christian, etc…)

      Mauritania 100%
      Muslim (Once Animist)

      Somalia 100%
      Muslim (Once Animist, etc…)

      Saudi Arabia 100%
      Muslim (Once Jewish, Christian,
      Zoroastrian, etc…)

      Sudan 97% Muslim
      (Recent history teaches us what happened to all the non-Muslims in
      Sudan. It’s called genocide.)

      • To equate muslim expansion, meaning the exponential Islamic conversion of the lands surrounding the Arabian peninsula, to genocide shows where your core Islamophobia comes from. It is painfully ironic how you can call somebody anti-Semitic, when you can barely see your own racist views. Men like you have come and gone, and when in power have only left misery behind. I can only wish you see my point, but from my experience with the internet I will be at best laughed off or at worst called anti-semitic.

        • Islamophobia, anti-semitism, these words are both thrown around carelessly. While they may be important aspects of the issue, they often degrade the conversation and distract from the equally, or perhaps more important geopolitics in play.

          • Muslims have wiped out ALL the Buddhists who once thrived in Afghanistan and are now blowing up the remnants of their statues and art work.
            But fear not, Buddhists who fear Muslims are not rational by psychos fearing something that’s benign. Do I have that right? Lol.

          • If they are important aspects, why should they not be mentioned? I don’t think it distracts from anything. In fact, islamophobia and anti-semitism give the geopolitical disputes power.

        • Good point. When Muslim jihadists ransacked Sudan killing hundreds of thousands, gang-raping, kidnapping and creating millions of refugees it was no reason to fear Islam.

          In Syrian today – which make no mistake about it is a war between Sunnis and Shiities – a war that has killed close to 200,000 resulted in unfathomable torture (Google Syria + torture), and two million refugees it gives one no reason to fear Islam. This even though many of the warriors identify themselves as Allah’s warriors.

          Or in Pakistan and Bangladesh – once home to tens of million of Hindus – where very few Hindus are left due to Muslim aggression and hatred of infidels why would anyone come to fear Islam?


          Or there is also this Islamophobe: Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria on Islam

          “I am afraid that God has sent these men to lay waste the world”.

          And then there is this Islamophobe too: Gregory Palamus of Thessalonica on Islam

          “For these impious people, hated by God and infamous, boast of having got the better of the Romans by their love of God…they live by the bow, the sword and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to
          murder, pillage, spoil and not only do they commit these crimes, but even – what an aberration – they believe that God approves of them. This is what I think of them, now that I know precisely about their way of life.”

      • I feel like this is an extremely racially charged comment. “I love it when muslims lecture us…” makes me uncomfortable

    • “Hillel sucks”? That’s unbelievably intolerant and really hurts me. Though you may not agree with some of Hillel’s policies or events, it’s a place of community, prayer, learning, and much more for so many students. Brown/RISD Hillel hosts market shares, yoga, a gallery space, dance classes… Your statement does feel very anti-Semitic, and the fact that ten people liked this comment is frightening.

    • I’m sorry, but to compare Jewish desire for their own state to white south africans is like asking why there is no white entertainment television. Jews have had a very unique history of discrimination and persecution (and still face it all around the world), and that is the impetus for their own country. You can disagree with the country’s policies, but to disregard the need for a Jewish state is just wrong.

      Also, why is this anger not directed towards the many many Muslim countries that are SO incredibly discriminatory towards any non-Muslims?

  6. self-determination says:

    I think you’re operating on a misreading of the term “self-determination.”
    Self-determination means the right for a group of people in a geographic area to freely determine their political formulation. In other words, Jewish self-determination means the right for Jewish folks to work with the people around them to figure out their political formulation. Self-determination for Jews does not mean self-determination for ONLY Jews.

    So, drawing a link between Jewish self-determination, and a state in which Jews are given unequal privileges, is fallacious and inaccurate. Notions of self-determination hold that a group can work to build their own political systems – but the right of self-determination does not enshrine the resulting political system as one that is infinitely defensible. SO yes, Israel may be a case in which some individuals have exercised some form of self-determination – but that does not exempt the deeply unequal political reality of modern Israel from criticism. Furthermore, notions Jewish self-determination does not hinge on a majority Jewish state, as so many would claim. Just as it would be ridiculous to claim that apartheid South Africa was justified by white South African “self-determination,” it’s very dodgy to legitimize the unequal treatment of Jews vs. non-Jews in Israel (not to mention the ongoing occupation of Palestine and controls over Palestinian political expression) by talking about Jewish self-determination.

    tldr: it is a misreading of the idea of self-determination to talk about it in terms of the construction of an ethnocratic state.

  7. Shane Grannum says:

    Another week, another mindless Zach Ingber column. You advocate for free speech in one article but mow down a bunch of protestors exercising their right to free speech in another. You call another kid’s column “irresponsible and dangerous” yet when people call Brown Republicans irresponsible and dangerous, you’re up in arms.

    Your columns are deeply hypocritical and contradictory. Please, please for your sake and your future, try to read your older columns before you attempt to write new ones.

    • Disagreeing with someone is not silencing them.

    • Because I see you have the bravery to write a column in the herald…

    • If you read the article, you’d know he didn’t mow down the protesters, but actually said the protest was “completely legitimate”
      And like John said, he disagreed with the other article but he didn’t try to keep the other person from sharing his views

  8. The author clearly states the legitimacy of the Sgt. Anthony protest and acknowledges the problems with certain Israeli policies. However, all the rebuttals are just filled with hateful rants and are an embarrassment to the Brown community. They represent the new anti-semitism, “global antisemitism” which hides under the guise of anti-Zionism. Again Ingber is spot on.

    • Ingber uses the usual straw man argument of Jewish self determination. He knows fully well that the self determination he espouses comes at the expense of Palestinians and the stripping of their rights.

      And of course he pays lip service to “certain Israeli policies”. The very “policies” that strips Palestinians of their rights to self determination. How wonderful. An entire spiel on self determination for one people and lip service for the other. The usual half truths.

  9. When a state is declared a zionist state, this automatically puts all others on a lower class level. This is the reason why the US has not called itself a Christian state. Calling any country a ______ state results in the denunciation and invalidation of all other races/ethnicities/religions. It tells others that they do not belong, and with it come laws (of which Israel has about 15) denying liberties and equal rights to those who are not, in this case, Jewish.

    • Then why is no one protesting the many, many states in the Middle East that call themselves Muslim?

      • But i thought Israel was “just like America”. Oh never mind !!!

        • No, Israel is not just like America. Israel is not America. America is a secular country. Israel is a home for the Jewish people. It is the center of Jewish life. It has had to create policies to defend itself from its neighbors, most of whom do not believe in its right to exist.

          Jews make up less than 1% of the world’s population, and according to a recent Pew report, it seems that the numbers are dwindling even further. Anti-semitism does exist, as Ingber pointed out. Also, his article, I believe, was published prior to the shooting at a Kansas Jewish community center. And, from many of these comments, it seems anti-Semitism is present on this campus. So, yes, I do believe the Jewish people need a state at least the size of Israel (smaller than the size of New Jersey) — among other reasons, so that they will not disappear. And I believe Israel has the right to defend itself when attacked and in order to maintain its existence.

          • You gotta notify the AIPAC crowd. Cause the mantra “Only Real Democracy in the Middle East” seems to be fake. Do it quickly.

            Your “home for Jewish people” kinda omits the homeless for the Palestinians people. Racism at its finest.

  10. Also, regarding Israel having races of all kinds: Ethiopian Jews were given birth control, often without their consent and/or knowledge, in order to lower Ethiopian birth rates in Israel. Is this the race equality this article refers to?

    for reference:

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