Episode:
8
September 3rd, 2023 at 1pm US EDT, 8pm Israel Time

Izabella Tabarovsky: "Soviet Antizionism and Contemporary Left Antisemitism"

Where does contemporary antizionist ideology come from? In this event, we will talk about the origins of this ideology, what purpose it was meant to serve...

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Izabella Tabarovsky

Izabella Tabarovsky

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Expert in Antisemitism, anti-Zionism, Russia, Ukraine, and Israel | Research fellow at the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, and The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy | Writer for Tablet Magazine, Newsweek SAPIR Journal, and The Forward.

Einat Wilf

Einat Wilf

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Preeminent Jewish and Israeli thinker, author, leader, and former parliament member.

Alex Hearn

Alex Hearn

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Creative Director | Labour Against Antisemitism co-director | Opinions ✍️ at newspapers Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News | Professional Speaker.

Daniel Sadan

Daniel Sadan

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I am the host and producer of live weekly Middle East Events on Twitter spaces. I bring you the top experts on Middle East geopolitics, history, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. My goal is to lift the veil of lies that has been cast over the geopolitics of the Middle East. "For every shadow, no matter how deep, is threatened by morning light." - The Fountain

Event Description

Where does contemporary antizionist ideology come from? In this event, we will talk about the origins of this ideology, what purpose it was meant to serve, how it harmed Jews in the past—and how it is doing so today.

Ever wonder where the idea that “Zionism is racism” comes from? Who first demonized Israel as an “apartheid” state or smeared Zionism as a reincarnation of Nazi Germany? Who emptied the term Zionism of its original meaning and associated it with humanity’s worst evils, including imperialism, colonialism, fascism, terrorism and genocide?

You might think that these ideas are an outgrowth of contemporary social justice activism and Western academic thought, but the history of these ideas goes back over 50 years. That’s when the Soviet Union first began to talk about Zionism as though it was its primary ideological enemy, to develop an elaborate international propaganda effort against it, and to try to win over the global left to this antizionist project. The USSR also used its influence in the developing world to introduce these ideas.

You might ask: Why should we care about this history? The USSR doesn’t exist anymore. Aren’t we busy enough dealing with the present?

We should care about it for the same reason we care about the history of Nazi antisemitism. Nazi Germany has also ceased to exist and its ideas are widely discredited, but they are not dead. They continue to live on among contemporary neo-Nazis and white supremacists, threatening to regain virulence and cross over into mainstream political discourse.

We must learn about Soviet antizionism in order to understand the danger posed by the antizionist antisemitism of the contemporary far left. The antizionist antisemitism of Jeremy Corbyn, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and those who are influenced by them is not simply a product of nice people caring deeply about Palestine. It is a politics that has a long tradition originating in a country that went down in history, among other things, as a country of state-sponsored antisemitism.

The antizionist slogans we are hearing today were once weaponized against millions of Soviet Jews. They are already being weaponized against American and British Jews (although, thankfully, without an apparatus of state repression behind them). Without this history, we can’t analyze contemporary antizionism correctly, nor can we forecast the dangers that it poses to Jews.

One of the main lessons of this history is that whenever an institution or a society embraces antizionist antisemitism, Jews suffer.

We don’t need to wonder whether antizionism is the same as antisemitism or not. Millions of Jews who grew up in the communist countries have seen it all before. What we need to do is look closely at this history in order to help us understand the present and forecast the future. We will start doing it with today’s conversation.

To learn more about Izabella's work, please see the articles below:

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