Imagine a group of people who work to destroy Italy because, they claim, Italy's origins are illegitimate. Imagine further that these people maintain that of all the countries in the world, only Italy is illegitimate. And then imagine that these people vigorously deny they are in any way anti-Italian. Would you believe them? Or would you dismiss their argument as not only dishonest but absurd?
Substitute "Israel" for "Italy" and "Jew" for "Italian" and you'll understand the dishonesty and absurdity of the argument that one can be anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic.
But that is precisely what anti-Zionists say. They argue that the very existence of a Jewish state in the geographic area known as Palestine -- there was never an independent country known as Palestine -- is illegitimate. They do not believe any other country in the world is illegitimate, no matter how bloody its origins. And then they get offended when they're accused of being anti-Semitic.
How can they make this argument?
First, they change the topic. They say it is unfair to charge those who merely "criticize" Israel with being anti-Semitic. But I don't know anyone who does that. It's a phony argument. Criticism of Israel is fine. Denying Israel's right to exist is not. Anti-Zionism is not criticism of Israel. Anti-Zionism is opposition to Israel's existence.
Zionism is the movement for the return of Jews to their ancient homeland, Israel. Over the past 3,000 years, there were two independent Jewish states located in what is called Israel. Both were destroyed by invaders, and no Arab or Muslim or any other independent country ever existed in that land, which was only named Palestine by the Romans in an attempt to remove all memory of the Jewish state they destroyed in the year A.D. 70.
Second, anti-Zionists claim they can't be anti-Jewish because Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism. That, too, is equally false. It is the same as saying that Italy has nothing to do with being Italian. Judaism has always consisted of three components: God, Torah and Israel. If Israel isn't part of Judaism, neither is the Bible or God.
Third, anti-Zionists claim that Judaism is only a religion; therefore, Jews are only members of a religion, not a nation. But the Jews are called the "nation of Israel" repeatedly in the Bible. That is why there are irreligious, secular and even atheist Jews -- because Jews are not only a religion. There are no atheist Christians because Christianity is only a religion.
Fourth, the anti-Zionists claim that Israel is illegitimate because it is racist. This is the charge Israel- and America-haters make against two of the least racist societies in the world. In the case of Israel, it is fraudulent because:
a) Half of Israel's Jews are not white.
b) Anyone, of any race or ethnicity, can become a Jew.
c) One out of every 5 Israelis is not a Jew. And these Israeli citizens -- mostly Arab Muslims -- have the same rights as Jewish Israelis.
d) Israel's control of the West Bank has nothing to do with "race." Israel does not control the West Bank because Palestinians are of another race but because Palestinians tried to destroy Israel in 1967, and they lost the war. The only reason Palestinians do not have their own state has nothing to do with race: They rejected offers to found their own state on five separate occasions since 1948. They have always rejected building a Palestinian state because they have always been more interested in destroying Israel.
Fifth, the anti-Zionists claim that Israel's origins are illegitimate.
The fact that, of all the world's 200-plus countries, the only country anti-Zionists declare illegitimate is also the only Jewish country is pretty much all you need to know about their motives. Why, for example, don't they make this claim about Pakistan? In 1947, nine months before the establishment of Israel, India was partitioned into a Muslim state -- Pakistan -- and a Hindu state -- India.
Unlike Israel, Pakistan had never existed before.
Unlike Israel's founding, which created about 700,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands and 700,000 Arab refugees from what became Israel, the founding of Pakistan created about 7 million Muslim refugees from India and about 7 million Hindu refugees from Pakistan. And while the highest estimate of Arab deaths in the fighting that took place when Israel announced its establishment is 10,000, the number of deaths as a result of Pakistan's creation is around 1 million.
Given these facts, why is Israel's legitimacy challenged while the legitimacy of Pakistan isn't? There's only one answer: Israel is the one Jewish state in the world. So, while there are 49 Muslim-majority countries and 22 Arab states, anti-Zionists reject the right of the one Jewish state -- the size of New Jersey -- to exist.
Of course, not all anti-Zionists hate all Jews. But as I wrote at the beginning, if you seek to destroy Italy, you don't have to hate every Italian to be anti-Italian. If you seek to destroy the only Jewish state on Earth, you don't have to hate every Jew to be an anti-Semite.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.