As long as there has been Zionism, there have been anti-Zionist Jews. Indeed, decades before it even came to the notice of non-Jews, anti-Zionism was a well-established Jewish ideology, and until the second world war commanded wide support in the diaspora. Today, as cracks show in the presumed monolith of Jewish backing for Israel, increasing numbers of Jews are interrogating and rejecting Zionism. Nonetheless, the existence of anti-Zionist Jews strikes many people – Jews and non-Jews – as an anomaly, a perversity, a violation of the first clause in Hillel‘s ethical aphorism: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
Zionism is an ideology and a political movement. As such, it is open to rational dispute, and on a variety of grounds. Jews, like others, might well view the Jewish claim to Palestine as irrational, anachronistic, and intrinsically unjust to other inhabitants. They might consider the Jewish state to be discriminatory or racist in theory and in practice or might object, on political, philosophical, or even specifically Jewish grounds, to any state based on the supremacy of a particular religious or ethnic group. As Jews, they might reject the idea that Jewish people constitute a “nation”, or at least a “nation” of the type that can or should become a territorial nation-state. Or they might have concluded on the basis of an examination of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians that the underlying cause of the conflict was the ideology of the Israeli state.
Any or all of the above should be sufficient to explain why some Jews would become anti-Zionists. But that doesn’t stop critics from placing us firmly in the realm of the irredeemably neurotic. In their eyes, we remain walking self-contradictions, a menace to our fellow Jews.