The US has granted special status to the racist ideology of Zionism yesterday with the House of Representatives in Congress declaring that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism” in a symbolic resolution. Framed by its supporters as an effort to combat the “drastic rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world,” the resolution also condemned the slogan “from the river to the sea” as a call to destroy the apartheid state of Israel.
As expected, the pro-Israel Republican-controlled House passed the measure yesterday in a 311-14 vote, with 92 Democratic members voting “present” — basically abstaining — while 95 of their colleagues supported it. Representatives cast their vote only a week after US lawmakers expressed frustration in having to vote for yet another pro-Israel resolution.
The vote comes as support for Israel in the US continues to wane. Data shows growing disconnect between the general public and lawmakers, who often tend to vote in favour of their donors over the interest of the American people.
Data for Progress, a progressive US think tank, said yesterday that 61 per cent of US voters support calls for a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Israel’s bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. More than 16,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly children and women, have been killed by Israel since 7 October.
61% of Americans support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
76% of Democrats.
57% of Independents.
49% of Republicans.
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) December 5, 2023
The near fifty-fifty split within the Democrats reflected deep and growing divisions over Israel. “Under this resolution, those who love Israel deeply but criticise some of its policy approaches could be considered anti-Zionist,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the longest-serving Jewish member of the House, said in a speech before he abstained in the vote. “That could make every Democratic Jewish member of this body, because they all criticised the recent Israeli judicial reform package, de facto anti-Semites. Might that be the [resolution] author’s intention?”
Commenting on the slogan “from the river to the sea,” the resolution described it as a “rallying cry for the eradication of the State of Israel and the Jewish people”. It also characterised demonstrators who gathered in Washington DC last month to demand a ceasefire as “rioters”. They “spewed hateful and vile language amplifying anti-Semitic themes,” claimed the resolution.
Critics have slammed the move as yet another attempt to crack down on pro-Palestine activism. “It’s super dangerous,” Husam Marajda, an organiser with the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), is reported as saying. “It sets a really, really bad precedent. It’s aiming to criminalise our liberation struggle and our call for justice and peace and equality.”
Advocates of Israel have long campaigned to conflate criticism of the apartheid state with anti-Semitism. The highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism achieves this goal. Despite strong opposition, the IHRA has been adopted by many Western governments, granting Zionism a protected status not afforded to any other political ideology.