On Tuesday night, in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Studies Center, Mouin Rabbani spoke to Case Western Reserve University students and University Circle community members about “Israel, Zionism and Anti-Semitism.” Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, argued that anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitism, meaning Israel’s actions toward the Palestinian people can and should be criticized.
The Institute for Palestine Studies was established in Beirut, Lebanon in 1963 as “a private, independent, non-profit Arab institute unaffiliated with any political organization or government.” Since its founding, the Institute for Palestinian Studies has grown to become a widely respected source for information regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Rabbani has been a senior fellow with the institute since 2008 and has been published in numerous journals and newspapers over the last decade.
Rabbani began at 5:30 p.m. with a historical account of the Zionist movement, highlighting that Zionism was not universally accepted by all Jewish people.
“The first anti-Zionists were European Jews,” Rabbani said.
Early Jewish anti-Zionists were concerned that Zionism would create a “super-ghetto” in Palestine and cause an anti-Semitic backlash in Europe.
Rabbani then discussed the support for Zionism from anti-Semitic and nationalistic factions, such as Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann and British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour.
Throughout this part of his lecture, Rabbani stressed that anti-Zionism is not equivalent to anti-Semitism and that anti-Semitism refers to xenophobia towards all Jewish people.
According to Rabbani, “Anti-Semitism is prejudice, discrimination against Jews, all Jews.”
These clarifications helped set up Rabbani’s overarching point that Israel should be criticized for its discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian people and unlawful expansion into the West Bank. Rabbani compared the Israeli regime to repressive settler colony regimes in Africa:
“[The] charge sheet against Israel is politically indistinguishable from those against South Africa and Rhodesia,” said Rabbani.
Rabbani also stressed that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and evidence of it in criticism of Zionism should be denounced.
Rabbani’s lecture was hosted by the political science department, the Radical Student Union, SPARC, the University Media Board and the Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies.