Jews worldwide deserve self-determination but in their own countries of origin — not in Palestine

Rima Najjar
7 min readJun 12, 2018


Rima Najjar at “70 Years Too Long: Nakba Vigil” and rally for Palestine, Washington DC, 15 May 2018

To be an anti-Zionist is to be, by definition, against the existence of the Jewish state in Palestine.

I am an anti-Zionist and will try to explain here what that means to me both viscerally, as a Palestinian, and intellectually, as an activist for justice in Palestine.

The photo of me above was taken by my brother in Washington DC, 15 May 2018, at a Nakba rally (“70 Years Too Long: Nakba Vigil”) organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and allied activist groups.

Simply put, an anti-Zionist is someone who has stripped “the aura of virtue from Zionism that’s befogged Western liberals’ eyes for 70 years”, as Jim Kavanagh writes in the context of the activities of the Great March of Return in Gaza:

The Great March of Return, says Jim Kavanagh, is a startling, powerful expression of Palestinian identity and resistance. Palestinians have come out, bravely and unapologetically, to say: “We refuse to remain invisible. We reject any attempt to assign us to the discard pile of history. We will exercise our fundamental right to go home.” They have done this unarmed, in the face of Israel’s use of deadly armed force against targets (children, press, medics) deliberately chosen to demonstrate the Jewish state’s unapologetic determination to force them back into submissive exile by any means necessary. By doing this repeatedly over the last few weeks, these incredibly brave men, women, and children have done more than decades of essays and books to strip the aura of virtue from Zionism that’s befogged Western liberals’ eyes for 70 years.

Zionism is a dispossessing movement for non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs like me and my family. As a movement, it evolved from European nationalism, anti-Semitism, and colonialism.

To use Edward Said’s phrase, Zionism’s “master code is Jewish exclusivism” — that is to say, racism, Apartheid and Jewish supremacy.

My visceral reaction against Zionism includes rage, hatred and a strong desire to be aggressive against the Zionist regime in Israel, both in retaliation as well as in self-defense.

As an activist for the liberation of Palestine, I am daily aware of the news of Israel’s aggression and rapaciousness (cloaked as “security” and “defense”) against Palestinian Arabs and their continued dispossession. Such news is often unbearable to me.

My sense of injustice is the driving motivation behind why I write about this issue on Quora and elsewhere.

The dispossession to me, as a Palestinian, is also personal. My father’s lands in Jerusalem and his home in the depopulated village of Lifta west of Jerusalem are now in the hands of the Jewish state, some (like a piece of land in Jerusalem confiscated in 1967 on which the Hebrew University has built dorms, or my grandfather’s house in Lifta) have already been transferred to Jews.

To be an anti-Zionist is to be in a constant state of rage. I cannot adequately describe the degree and quality of my rage (“resentment” doesn’t even begin to express it) at the Zionist Movement’s successful obliteration in the media and in actuality, for so long, of my historical existence, my national rights, and most of all my communal and cultural identity.

In that, I am not simply referring to the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights and Golda Meir’s 1969 pronouncements about us. This obliteration and profound racialist dismissal (Arabophobia) was entrenched in the very fiber of the Movement from the get-go.

Moshe Dyan, April 1969, as quoted in Edward Said, “Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims”

Our erasure is ongoing today, as the Jewish state continues to kill us and steal our land with impunity. If you don’t know or don’t believe that is so, you must be exposed only to hasbara.

An additional burden for anti-Zionists is the continuous need to debunk Israel’s propaganda. See this exhaustive debunking by
Muhammad Shehada and Jamie Stern-Weiner of the bogus justifications given for the deaths of Palestinian protesters by IDF and media. Exhaustive and exhausting.

Yes, Jews worldwide deserve self-determination — in their own countries of origin, not on someone else’s land.

Zionism means that Jews worldwide have a right to self-determination in Palestine in the form of a Jewish state. Arab Palestinian Jews and all other Jews worldwide have a right to self-determination in their own countries of origin, but that doesn’t mean turning each country into a Jewish state. Jewish Israelis, immigrants - i.e. colonizers - and those who were born in Israel after 1948 can be indigenized, but only after Palestinian rights have been restored and restitution made to them. That’s called ethical decolonization.

Thousands of observant Jews like the Satmar American Orthodox group want nothing to do with the Zionist Jewish state of Israel.

“We have no part in Zionism. We have no part in their wars. We have no part in the State of Israel.”

But we rarely ever hear about these sentiments in U.S. media such as The New York Times.

The cover-up of Zionist crimes by mainstream media and by the movement’s hasbara and the continued political and material support given by Western powers to the Jewish state in Palestine that these powers helped create are at the core of our continued rage as anti-Zionists.

It’s the lies that anger us most of all and the difficulty of making any kind of critique about Zionism without being charged with anti-Semitism.

To be an anti-Zionist, whether you are a Palestinian in exile, a Jewish American or a BDS activist anywhere on the globe, is not the easiest of conditions; it can lead to trumped up charges of terrorism against you or to a ruined career, or to bogus charges of criminality.

To be an anti-Zionist is to be a revolutionary, an advocate of radical, transformative change, of the overthrow of old regimes, both in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories, in order to effect a complete change in the fundamental institutions of society.

Zionism achieved formal and ideological prominence in Europe and the United States well before the World Zionist Organization gained territory in Palestine by violence and terror. Zionist goals were clearly stated by the founders of the Zionist movement, but their scheming and that of the British were duplicitous.

Basically, European atheist Jews, organized as the World Zionist Organization, trained their eyes on Palestine well before 1948. They came, they saw, and they conquered, arrogantly plotting to rob the very Palestinian Arabs who at first welcomed and gave European Jews shelter and succor in Palestine.

Palestinians from the village of Huj pass a bucket of water to the newly arrived Jewish settlers at the kibbutz of Dorot, circa 1942. Huj was destroyed in 1948

Palestinian Arabs were deliberately rendered expendable. Instead of their nationality being graciously conferred on European Jews, it was violently erased through Zionist machinations followed by aggression and violence.

Here is the League of Nations Mandate of July 24, 1922, Mandate for Palestine, Article 7:

The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.

Many Jews in Israel today deny that the Nakba even took place. Anti-Zionist Eitan Bronstein explains this phenomenon as follows:

... the Nakba represents for the Zionist subject an event that cannot possibly have occurred and — at the same time — had to occur. From early on, Zionism ignored the existence of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. It is, therefore, not possible that some 800,000 persons were ethnically cleansed from the country and that more than 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed. On the other hand, the expulsion of the Palestinian majority from their country was inevitable for Zionism that aimed to establish a Jewish State, i.e. a national home for the Jewish people in the world on a territory ruled by a Jewish majority on the basis of law.

The explanation involves so much cognitive dissonance, it makes me wonder how the Zionist mind or psychology that embraces such dissonance can continue to flourish in the world both within and outside Israel.

The good news, though, is that “Despite millions spent on propaganda, the Zionists have failed to frighten the moral conscience of the US [and that of many people everywhere — anti-Zionists all] into silence.”

That’s because being an anti-Zionist is also an act of love — love for a just and noble cause.

For liberal Zionists, opposition to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state serves as the red line they draw in their liberal pursuit of “peace and justice” for Palestinians within Israel. But then, these people are Zionists, not anti-Zionists.

In ‘Shadings of Zionism’, Blake Alcott says:

The revival of bi-nationalism does take the liberalism in liberal Zionism a step further, but the bottom line, it seems, is actually the survival, with legitimacy, of one of the two “nations” — the Jewish one.
…Soft bi-nationalists are not yet ready to include all Palestinians in the proposed state: this would mean the end of Zionism. However, their rights-based approach forces them to grapple with the one democratic state entailed by restoration of citizenship to the ethnically cleansed and their descendants, without whom their bi-nationalism will remain insufficient. Let us hope they take this final step.

Ending Apartheid Israel is not an “internal concern” for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs only! As in South Africa, human rights abuses, especially those stemming from settler-colonialism, are a matter of concern for all humanity — not to mention the six million estimated refugees, exiles and displaced Palestinians world wide, still waiting for their inalienable and internationally recognized right of return.




Rima Najjar

Palestinian and righteously angry