It’s generally assumed that anyone showing the remotest concern for Palestinian rights takes either an anti-Israel stand or is a complete anti-Semite. Supporters of Zionism are quite eager to tell you that any such person must be both, by definition.

The situation is indeed very similar to the case of Apartheid South Africa. It was argued then that anti-apartheid activists were anti-South African. It was impossible for some to conceive of a South Africa without the apartheid system. But here we are today facing the situation of apartheid being scrapped, but South Africa still in existence. Anti-apartheid activists argued then that they were in fact pro-South African since they believed that the end of the apartheid system was the best thing for all South Africans in the long run.

Those who rightly recognised that apartheid in South Africa was unjust did not seek the destruction of South Africa. Rather, they saw themselves as the first line of those who sought to create a better and more truly democratic South Africa.

So it is with the current BDS movement in the sense that this movement envisions an Israel without Zionism, not the destruction of Israel (regardless of whether a one or two state solution prevails). An Israel without Zionism, (or at the very least a much reformed Zionism), is indeed not only possible, but probably inevitable. The belief that not only Israel, but the survival of the entire Jewish people is dependent on the survival and dominance of Zionism is a foundational part of Zionist ideology itself.

The fact that Christian Zionists also believe this is an amazing reality to say the least! Christian Zionists reject any criticism of Zionist Israel and agree with the Zionists that anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism in another form. The notion that Israel be non-Zionist is firmly rejected by Christian Zionists. While many Christians criticize the Zionist ideology that dominates Israeli thinking, the Christian Zionists will have none of this criticism.

My position is that Zionist ideology is the root cause of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. My vision is for a truly democratic Israel: an Israel that is truly for all its citizens, not just for its Jewish inhabitants. Regardless of whether a one or two state solution is arrived at, my vision is for a non-Zionist Israel. The idea that Israel cannot exist without Zionism is not only illogical (ancient Israel was not Zionist), but unbiblical, and therefore it is completely incompatible with Christian faith. This is why I consider myself to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

CRAIG NIELSEN

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