SJP’s fatal misconceptions

On April 9, Sara Halimah wrote a letter criticizing those who call Israeli Apartheid Week anti-Semitic. She argued that Students for Justice in Palestine protests not against Judaism but against Zionism, which she characterized as a philosophy that clearly establishes a Jewish-only state in Palestine.
 
Unfortunately, in characterizing Zionism as such, Halimah is spreading misconceptions that already empower anti-Semites worldwide. Having lived my life as an active member of the Jewish and Zionist communities, I have a problem with that.
 
Firstly, Zionism does not imply the existence of a “Jewish state.” Rather, it establishes that there should be a home for Jews to exist in without the threat of annihilation. Ethno-religious exclusivity is not part of Zionism.
 
Nor does Zionism imply that the land of Palestine specifically must be used as a home for Jews. Palestine was established as a Jewish home as a matter of historical coincidence — in the early 1900s, the British Empire promised Palestine to Zionists as part of a broader strategy in the Middle East. This being the early
1900s, European Jews jumped at the opportunity to leave. I, for one, would have much preferred a less politically contentious location. (Who even lives in Montana, anyway?)
 
So Israel represents a short-sighted, supremacist and terribly located version of Zionism. Indeed, it is difficult to see Zionism as anything else but Israel, seeing as no other state in the world is ruled by a Jewish majority.
 
Nevertheless, misconstruing Zionism is harmful to Jews who fear for their lives in Europe and around the world, Jews who are associated with Israel’s actions for their beliefs and suffer anti-Semitic attacks as a consequence. Ironically, this narrow focus on Zionism also harms Palestinians, whose struggle within and oppression by neighboring countries is brushed aside under the guise that Israel is the only obstacle to Palestinian freedom.
 
American divestment from Israel and awareness of Palestinian oppression is a great start to bringing this conflict to a close, but we must be careful not to misrepresent or ignore crucial details of either Israel or Palestine in the process.