On February 24th, we welcomed Ben Brownstein, a speaker from Stand With Us, to Grounds to lead a discussion on anti-Zionism vs. anti-Semitism and if that distinction even truly exists. The event was coordinated by Hoos For Israel, and the 10 students in attendance participated in respectful conversation. The small group made intriguing discussion possible, and it was really a great hour of talking.
Ben began by introducing the idea of the "3 D's" that are used to define anti-Semitism. The 3 D's refer to Demonization, which refers to relating Israel to the Devil or other forms of evil; Delegitimation, the act of denying that Israel has the right to exist; and Double Standards, which refers to resolutions from the UN or other organizations passed against Israel even though those same actions go unsanctioned in other countries. Any statement or piece of media that can be categorized as one or more of these 3 Ds counts as anti-Semitism. We came up with a list of eight frequently encountered accusations against Israel, which we then analyzed to determine whether or not they were anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, both, or neither.
Some accusations we unanimously agreed fit all three categories, such as statements like "the IDF is a terrorist organization." Other statements, such as "Israel is stealing Palestinian land," provoked a discussion that last several minutes and involved many different view points shared by those of us around the table. Ultimately, we decided, that discussing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as different entities is only possible when the definition of Zionism is agreed upon.
The event was quite successful, and everyone there learned something, either about themselves, about each other, about how to respond to anti-Israeli claims, or about Israel itself. And of course, the free Insomnia Cookies didn't hurt anything either.
Class of 2019
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,000 Jewish students on Grounds.