Issues in Focus Abuse of Zionism Spreading

A study by the World Jewish Congress reports that in the six years since the UN General Assembly declared “Zionism equals racism,” the abuse of Zionism on the international scene has become so deep-rooted and widespread “that even states in the West previously sympathetic to Zionism are viewing the term with increasing caution and refraining from using it.”

The study, released here by the WJC research arm, the Institute of Jewish Affairs, analyzes the defamation of Zionism in international affairs and finds that “abusive references to Zionism are not confined to Arab states and go far beyond direct reference to Israel.” The distortion of Zionism is “deliberate and calculated and not just a product of sloppy thinking,” the report notes. Numerous derisive examples are cited.

In Iran, “Zionism” is considered a criminal offense punishable by death. Teheran radio is quoted in its report on executions in June 1981 as broadcasting: “Three were executed charged with cooperating with the former regime and helping international Zionism.”

WORD IS USED TO DEFAME OPPONENTS

Governments use the word to insult and criticize opponents. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq spoke of the “hostile, colonialist, Zionist and racist machinations” of the Iranians while the Iranians refer to the “criminal government of Iraq being entirely in the hands of international Zionism.” Speaking in Libya in September 1980, President Hafez Assad of Syria said that “Egypt will destroy Sadat even though he has turned into a Zionist.”

The charge that Zionists are at the head of a conspiracy controlling mass media and general political developments is a recurrent theme, the report finds. This conspiracy theme was made use of in Turkey where the leader of the Turkish National Salvation Party said on the radio during the 1979 election that “it is the foreign forces which are provoking anarchic incidents; it is world Zionism which is behind them.”

The “Zionism equals racism” theme has often been taken up in international bodies like the non-aligned movement. At the Havana non-aligned summit in 1979, the economic declaration stated that the economic and social evils afflicting developing countries were “engendered by imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism including Zionism.”

The study points to discernible signs that the “anti-Zionist syndrome” is even having an impact on some Western industrialized countries who increasingly feel that dialogue with the developing nations must take into account their analysis of world affairs. Commenting on this development, the report concludes: “The danger therefore arises that the negative use of Zionism contributes to shifts in the balance of relations between states.”

The WJC study was prepared for the Institute by Tony Lerman, a specialist on the role of the Islamic bloc in world affairs.

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