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It is widely reported that Martin Luther King once said, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

Was Dr. King right? Is anti-Zionism the same as anti-Semitism?

On the one hand, it is definitely possible to criticize the policies of the state of Israel or to question whether the Jewish people have a divine right to the Land of Israel without being anti-Semitic.

On the other hand, there is often a fine line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and it doesn’t take much prodding to find out just how fine that line is.

Put another way, there’s not that big a jump from, “The Israelis are evil occupiers” to, “The Jews are evil occupiers,” to, “The Jews are evil.” And so, the moment Israel does something perceived to be wrong by the world, an outburst of anti-Semitism is not far away.

Just consider some of the signs and slogans seen and heard in anti-Israel protests worldwide in the light of Israel’s war with Hamas. (Note that most of the protesters are Muslims living in America or Europe or elsewhere.)

Anti-Semitic graffiti in Rome declared, “Jews, the end is near.”

In Canada, Muslims chanting “kill the Jews” confronted supporters of Israel.

In Berlin, protesters cried out in the front of the Israeli Embassy, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig – come out and fight alone.”

In Chicago, threatening anti-Jewish leaflets were found this past Sunday, while in Boston, protesters shouted “Jews back to Birkenau!” at a Jewish couple on Saturday.

In Miami, protesters were recorded screaming out, “We are jihad.” The video of the protest is said to be “filled with profanity mixed with violent anti-Semitism reminiscent of 20th century Nazi rallies.”

Protesters in France carried signs saying, “Gaza is a concentration camp” while some called out “Death to Jews” and “Hitler was right.”

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And this has not been just a matter of words or even of attacks on buildings. It has resulted in attacks on Jewish people.

As the Algemeiner reports, “A violent mob of more than a dozen men in France assaulted a Jew at his home in a Paris suburb after confirming that his photograph had been published by a French Facebook page identifying Jews to be targeted for physical intimidation.”

Things have gotten so bad that Israeli Jewish Congress President Vladimir Sloutsker recently said, “Never before since the Holocaust have we seen such a situation as today. We are potentially looking at the beginning of another Holocaust now. These events will only grow in scale across Europe.”

Even if those fears are exaggerated – at least, at present, since a number of European leaders have condemned these protests, especially their anti-Semitic elements – it cannot be denied that for many around the world, in particular for Muslims, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism go hand in hand. (Let’s remember that in Islam, anti-Semitism preceded anti-Zionism.)

That’s why, during Israel’s 2009 offensive in Gaza (“Operation Cast Lead”) a Muslim woman on the streets of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, screamed at a Jewish woman, “Get back to the ovens!”

This is anti-Semitism, plain and simple, and Israel’s war with Gaza simply reveals what was always there, lurking beneath the surface. In keeping with this, a Muslim protester in Miami said to a Jewish reporter, “I’m gonna kill you mother f––r, you and the all Israelis!” And, so a Jew in Miami should be killed, along with all the Israelis.

It is true that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated in a recent interview, “We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.”

But if that was not a political interview, nothing was, as if Hamas leaders have not repeatedly expressed their venom for the Jews, as if Hamas leaders do not believe the Islamic rhetoric that Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs, and as if the Hamas charter didn’t speak of their “struggle against the Jews.”

As the ADL’s Abraham Foxman pointed out, “The Hamas credo is not just anti-Israel, but profoundly anti-Semitic with racism at its core. The Hamas Charter reads like a modern-day ‘Mein Kampf.’”

And it appears that Meshaal didn’t coordinate his talking points with one of his clerics who declared from a mosque last Friday (July 25) on Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas channel: “We will not leave a single one of you [Jews] alive.”

He explained: “Our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries. You are the mercenaries of all times. Research the history, my brothers. Wherever the Jews lived, they spread corruption. Oh Muslims, didn’t you notice that Allah said: ‘They spread in THE land …’ The definite article in ‘THE land’ means the entire land. ‘They spread in the land corruption, and Allah loves not the corrupters.’”

But it is not just a fine line from Islamic anti-Zionism to Islamic anti-Semitism. It is a fine line for other peoples and religious groups as well, and it can be seen when all Jews around the world are held accountable for Israel’s actions (even though many of them do not even support those actions), when extreme hatred (even to the point of violence) is directed against them and when they are demonized and vilified in stereotypical terms.

You can expect to see it more and more in the coming days as the sore spot of hidden anti-Semitism is revealed under the guise of anti-Zionism.

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