When does anti-Zionism become antisemitism? - Barbra Streisand, Twitter

Barbra Streisand's question on anti-Zionism and antisemitism, sparked by events at UC Berkeley, reflects an often discussed query of when criticism of Israel ends and Jew hatred begins.

 Singer Barbra Streisand speaks on stage during the American Theatre Wing's 70th annual Tony Awards in New York, US, June 12, 2016. (photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
Singer Barbra Streisand speaks on stage during the American Theatre Wing's 70th annual Tony Awards in New York, US, June 12, 2016.
(photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

"When does anti-Zionism bleed into broad antisemitism?" 

This question was posited by Jewish-American singer and actress Barbra Streisand on Saturday in a Twitter post in response to the decision by student groups at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Law to ban Zionist speakers from the campus.

Indeed, this question reflects an often debated topic of when criticism of Israel and Zionist ideology ends and Jew hatred begins.

Several prominent members of Jewish Twitter (JTwitter) were quick to respond to Streisand's question, and many were of the opinion that anti-Zionism itself is antisemitism.

"Pretty early," noted Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum.

"Anti-Zionism, the belief that the State of Israel should not and must not exist as a Jewish state, is antisemitism. Either in intent, in effect, or both," explained Jewish activist and recent Israeli immigrant Blake Flayton.

He also added: "When does anti-feminism bleed into broad sexism? Spoiler alert."

"Denying the Jewish right to self determination is by definition, antisemitic," tweeted the watchdog NGO StopAntisemitism. 

"In the end they always come for all of us. Modern day antisemitism just has a new target: Zionism."

Said former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh: "When Zionist = code for Jew after systematic process to demonize, delegitimize & apply double standards; & ‘traditional’ antisemitism barring individual Jew from equal place in society mutates to ‘modern’ form, barring Jewish state from equal place among nations."

"Well, let's see," noted the Mossad IL parody account. "How about when in the name of 'anti-Zionism' a football club has to remove their Rosh Hashanah greeting from social media due to the amount of hate in the comments?"

And as noted by Prof. William Kolbrener of Bar-Ilan University, "They are one and the same."

UC Berkeley campus in California (credit: BRAINCHILDVN/FLICKR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)UC Berkeley campus in California (credit: BRAINCHILDVN/FLICKR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
What anti-Zionist activity happened at Berkeley?

The background to Streisand's tweet and the many responses it generated were all due to a recent decision by several student groups at Berkeley, led by the UC Berkeley’s Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP) student group to amend their bylaws banning Zionist speakers from the law school campus.

The move was adopted by several other student groups as well, something Berkeley Law’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said would effectively ban him from participating in law student group events.

The newest changes to law student groups at UC Berkeley are part of a growing trend of excluding pro-Israel and Zionist voices on US college campuses. Two Jewish students at State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz accused the school of antisemitism in August after they were excluded from a sex abuse survivors group on campus due to what they say is their pro-Israel views.

Last July, a Jewish student at the University of Southern California claimed that she resigned from its student government because she endured harassment over her pro-Israel views – adding that USC administrators did not follow up on the case and protect the student.