Zionists and Islamists

At a minimum a Zionist is one who loves Zion, often a Jew, but sometimes a Christian. At a minimum, an Islamist is someone who loves Islam, usually a Muslim. I see no reason to use either term in pejorative or hateful way, as a curse or as a condemnation. Associated with Zionism has been all manner of crimes against the native Palestinian people for over a hundred years, associated with Islamism has been tens of thousands of victims of crimes across the world, mostly Muslim victims. But it is an empirical fact that thousands of Zionists and millions of Islamists repudiate the crimes associated with these respective labels. They claim this is not true Zionism or true Islamism. We should agree as a global community to recognize the existence of these people, in fact to honor them. We can disagree with their philosophy but we should not label and dehumanize them.

I am no longer going to use the word “Islamist” in a pejorative way, I am going to retire it from my lexicon. I am going to use the word extremist or criminal when it comes to ISIS, Al Qaeda, or any other group that advocates coercion in religion or killing of civilians. It would be great if I could live in a world where the Muslim world no longer uses the word Zionist as a curse word, because in effect it becomes an assault on most Jews and certainly all Israelis. This is not helpful. The old adage of Beruriah, the great lady of the Talmud, remains true: Hate the sin and not the sinner. My read: Condemn the crime, do not label people, because then you will end up becoming a criminal yourself. I remember my years in Syria among Baathist officials who always screamed against and condemned “the Zionists” while abusing their own citizens especially poor Palestinians, while I “the Zionist” had spent half my life working together with Palestinians in Palestine. It amused me how stupid they were, but now it is not so funny. Now look at what these officials did with 200,000 dead, half an entire civilization and country exiled.

I am asking the Left and the Right to stop labeling, condemning, and hating, and start building bridges. I am asking Left and Right to condemn violence and crime, not people, and certainly not with labels which are the foundations of dehumanization.

© Marc Gopin