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Conspiracy “Anti-Zionism”: The Current Face of Judeophobia: Ideological Aspects of the Greek Case

The recent tripartite summit held in Thessaloniki in mid-June 2017 between the Greek and Israeli Prime Ministers and the Cypriot President to discuss energy- and security-related issues of the Eastern Mediterranean region, gave rise, again, to protests and strong reactions from the so-called political extremes against the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister to Greece. Within the context of the summit, the Greek and Israeli Prime Ministers also attended the official ceremony of unveiling a commemorative plaque for the planned Holocaust Museum in the city of Thessaloniki.

To begin with, this article discusses whether the protests organized and the statements made by the protesters (and several other political bodies) can convey some key representations of Greek Judeophobia. Far-left organizations held demonstrations in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, accompanied by announcements vehemently denouncing the summit. Interestingly enough, one of the main points in these announcements, namely, the denunciation of “Zionist” Benjamin Netanyahu, coincided with a similar condemnation coming from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn organization: that was, indeed, a very striking coincidence both in terms of the target and the quality attributed to the targeted politician. The Israeli Prime Minister is challenged in the name of “Zionism”: a first indication that “anti-Zionism” or, more precisely, the demonizing caricature of the Jewish national ideology and Israel itself—their representation as a repulsive figure—is indeed the main theme of contemporary Judeophobia, contemporary post-racial anti-Semitism.

In this critical presentation, which was occasioned by Netanyahu’s recent visit to Greece and which is mainly concerned with Judeophobic discourse/ideology, an effort is made to outline the most important semantic points and prevailing ideological-political themes of current Greek Judeophobia.

As established in Pierre-André Taguieff’s relevant analyses, the core of today’s anti-Semitism, i.e., the “new Judeophobia”—alongside the denial or relativization of the Holocaust—is represented less in the outright denunciation and direct rejection of Jews than in the delegitimization and denial of Israel’s existence and in the defamation of Zionism (and, consequently, in the rejection of Jews), which is identified with an “imperialism” of sorts and becomes synonymous with “racism” (“apartheid,” “Nazism”) and suggestive of “conspiracy theories.”[1] The systematic, unilateral, denunciatory criticism leveled at Israel is what Taguieff terms radical or absolute anti-Zionism,[2] the core of post-racial Judeophobia. Citing Ackerman and Jahoda’s classic descriptive and working definition of anti-Semitism (“Any expression of hostility, verbal or behavioral, mild or violent, against the Jews as a group, or against any individual Jew because of his belonging to that group”), Taguieff goes on to remark: “In this definition, without altering its overall meaning, ‘anti-Semitism’ can be replaced with ‘Judeophobia,’ and ‘Jews’ with ‘Zionists’ (a new polemical categorization of Jews), so that the present-day anti-Jewish morphology can be characterized more precisely.”[3] However, the anti-Zionism of contemporary Judeophobes, namely, contemporary anti-Semites (especially those of the far left, who are too embarrassed to speak their name, covering themselves behind the “anti-nationalism” provided by an appeal to “anti-Zionism” as a progressive internationalist posture), effectively exploits the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and also includes a number of traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes in its overt symbolical war against Israel. According to Taguieff, today’s radical anti-Zionism, anti-Jewish/anti-Israeli accusations of “colonialism,” “racial” nationalism, “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” (Palestinian) “ethnocide” and “genocide” essentially stem from the resurgent mythical theme of “racism” (leveled at Jews as an accusation) and constitute a twentieth-century reinterpretation of the ancient anti-Jewish accusation of “exclusionism.”[4]

In the aforementioned leftist and anarchist organizations’ “anti-Zionist” protests and statements against Netanyahu’s visit to Thessaloniki, it was claimed, inter alia, that Israel “murders” Palestinian children “on a daily basis.” The old anti-Jewish stereotype of “infanticide” resurfaces through such statements, albeit in a modernized form.[5] In this context of criminalized Zionism, some particular aspects of current Judeophobia can be identified, as shown in the views put forward by the two political extremes (the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn and some far-left organizations) during Netanyahu’s visit.

Far-right and Far-left Judeophobia

The neo-Nazi Judeophobia expressed by Golden Dawn against the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit was focused on a conspiracy “revelation” of that visit’s real aims, which, apparently, were other than those officially proclaimed. Thus, the “Zionist” Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not really meet with the Greek and Cypriot leaders to discuss regional energy- and security-related issues: he met with them in order to unveil a commemorative plaque for the Holocaust Museum to be constructed in Thessaloniki, to be informed about the ongoing trial of several Golden Dawn leading members, and to promote a “dark” Zionist plan secretly aiming to “de-Hellenize” Greek education. The neo-Nazi organization’s conspiracy Judeophobia is based on a wider, unshakeable ideological foundation: for Golden Dawn, both the modern world’s decline and the lethal yet invisible threat posed against Greece are due to the “greed” and “domination” of the “global Zionist elite,” which is even responsible for such phenomena as global Islamist terrorism[6]—a terrorism that never afflicts Israel itself, which should normally make us wonder whether Israel is secretly linked to the “Islamic State.”[7] Western elites are mere “puppets” of Zionism, which has even corroded the United States (“Washington’s Zionist state within a state”)[8] as part of its plans for global(ist) domination. Thus, the planned yet invisible threat against Greece is made possible through the de-Hellenization of its education (more specifically, through an effort to revise the history books of Greek secondary education), antiracist legislation, and prosecutions against “nationalists”—against all those who resist “Zionism,” those who, according to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos, seek the “racial soul of the Greeks” and actively fight liberalism and Marxism.[9] Besides, the instruments of global domination are “Soros, the Jew,” or “Soros, the Zionist plutocrat” (as recently described by the neo-Nazi organization),[10] and Karl Popper, who is considered to be the ideological architect of a global “multiracial and multicultural society.”[11]

If this version of delirious racial and “anti-Zionist” Judeophobia is more focused on “Greek identity” (particularly embodying and updating the dangerous myths of “diabolical causality”[12] and “Jewish global domination”—namely, the myths of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, often quoted in the Greek Parliament by Golden Dawn MPs, whose leader has repeatedly and categorically denied the Holocaust), far-left Judeophobia also demonizes Zionism (thus equally alluding to the myth of “diabolical causality”), identifies Zionism with “imperialism”/”plutocracy,” and points to Israel as “the enemy of the peoples” by putting forward national-sovereignty demands for Greece (and Middle Eastern peoples, particularly Palestinians) or even by projecting an abstract internationalism. Always with regard to the “far-right” Israeli leader’s visit to Greece, Israel—whose establishment is seen, inter alia, as “an opportunist response to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust”—is described by leftist and anarchist organizations as the “guard dog” of imperialism, a “terrorist state,” a “Zionist entity” implementing “apartheid” policies (“Zionist apartheid”) in its interior, while the Gaza Strip is characterized as “the greatest concentration camp in the entire world.”[13] This choleric opposition to “Zionism,” here equated with “war,” also comes through such phrases as “against the Zionist state,” “Zionist murderers,” “Zionist butchers” shooting children and civilians on a daily basis (the word “Zionism”, as the ideological signifier of a demonized policy, is repeated 21 times in the aforementioned leftist and anarchist announcements against Israel). On top of these accusations, Israel is further condemned for “stealing” the natural resources of the Palestinians (a neo-third-world update of the anti-Jewish “thief” and “plutocrat” stereotypes), who “were militaristically driven out of their homeland to make way for the newly established state of Israel.”

Israel’s criminalization-racization (through the demonization/delegitimization of Zionism) is at the heart of far-left Judeophobia, which challenges the Israeli state’s very right to exist. If Israel’s establishment is also “an opportunist response” to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust,[14] as suggested in an announcement by an anarchist organization (which, however, does not also criticize Palestinian nationalism and its own myths, thus subscribing to a selective pro-Palestinianism);[15] if what must be done now, as suggested by a Trotskyist organization, is “to create, against the Zionist state, a free, tolerant, united, socialist republic in the historical territory of Palestine, based on the coexistence of Jews and Arabs within the framework of a Socialist Federation of Middle-Eastern peoples,” what follows from this is an outright rejection of Israel’s independence in the name of a chimerical (“neo-third-world”) internationalism, a categorical imperative aiming to de-Zionize the Jewish people.[16]

By Way of Conclusion

The Greek case of Judeophobia, of this radical anti-Zionism, confirms (at the level of ideological-political supply, namely, at the level of public discourse) Taguieff’s main argument, according to which contemporary Judeophobia is, in essence, a demonological radical Israelophobia that knows how to embody old anti-Jewish stereotypes (such as ritual murder, “infanticide”) and “plots” for “Jewish global domination.”[17] The demonological “anti-Zionism” targeting Israel is central to contemporary anti-Semitism, the new Judeophobia, regardless of its starting point—whether “internationalist” (as in the case of the far left) or “identitarian” (as in the case of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn).

It would thus be wrong to suggest that “internationalist” Judeophobia is in stark contrast to “identitarian” Judeophobia. For example, apart from accusing Israel of “racism” and “oppressing the Palestinians,” the “identitarian” neo-Nazi Golden Dawn has recently denounced as “racist” the “prosecutions” of representatives of the BDS (“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”) “pacifist movement” in Israel,[18] adopting a left-wing call for boycotting Israeli products. At the other end of the political spectrum, namely, the far left, a specific website (Iskra), which expresses the views of some of those who withdrew from the Greek radical left (Syriza) in the summer of 2015 (and accused the left-wing government of consenting to yet another bailout Memorandum), also denounced the recent summit between Greece, Israel, and Cyprus by resorting to a conspiracy “right-wing” Judeophobic argument—the loss of Greek national sovereignty as a result of the Greek ruling political elites’ voluntary subordination to “the American-Israeli axis” (in far-right terminology, the formulation would rather be “the American-Zionist axis”): “The government always surrenders everything to the USA and Israel, thus losing its independence and transforming the country into something far worse than a mere satellite in the grip of the American-Israeli axis, increasingly tighter under the Trump administration.”[19]

In another article published on the same leftist website, the establishment of Israel was explained as the result of the remorse felt by Europeans because of the Holocaust, but also as the result of the fact that Israel’s role was to “preserve imperialist interests” and promote “colonialist objectives.” Thus, the Palestinian “anti-Zionist” struggle concerns everyone—to begin with, it concerns the Greek people because of the current economic crisis (“Both Greeks and Palestinians are exterminated under colonialist subjugation!”), as well as all the other peoples of the world: “As long as Palestine resists, there is still hope for all the peoples of the world!”[20] As Taguieff aptly points out, the ideologized elevation of the “Palestinian cause” to the status of a “universal cause” is premised on a “powerful victim myth,” the presentation of the Palestinian as the absolute victim, and, consequently, the denial of Israel’s very existence: such an ideological view may ultimately result in a “redemptive anti-Zionism.”[21] Another striking coincidence with the views of Golden Dawn can be found here, as the neo-Nazi organization has condemned (at least since 2014) the Greek-Israeli and Cypriot-Israeli cooperation as one that profoundly betrays Greek interests: “Through the Cypriot-Israeli and Greek-Israeli defence cooperation, the two Greek states irrevocably jump on the American-Zionist bandwagon.”[22] Both Judeophobias are essentially informed by a conspiracy myth: the myth of the “American-Israeli axis” (far-left Judeophobia) or the “American-Zionist axis” (far-right Judeophobia).

Andreas Pantazopoulos is a Political Scientist and Associate Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


1. Pierre-André Taguieff, L’Antisémitisme (Paris: PUF, 2015), pp. 11, 24–25, 68, 70–71, 98–99, 115–16. See also Robert S. Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (New York: Random House, 2009), pp. 494–514, 929–38; Walter Laqueur, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day (Oxford–New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2008), pp. 1–20, 125–50, 171–206; Elhanan Yakira, Post-sionisme, post-Shoah: Trois essais sur une négation, une délégitimation et une diabolisation d’Israël (Paris: PUF, 2010), pp. 1–100; Bernard Harrison, The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion (New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, INC), 2006, pp. 1–51, 79–87, 129–49; Georges-Élia Sarfati, L’Antisionisme: Israël/Palestine aux miroirs d’Occident (Paris: Berg International, 2002), pp. 11–23, 88–95.

2. For Taguieff, the characteristics of radical anti-Zionism, as the dominant figure of the new Judeophobia, are the following: (i) a systematic, constant criticism of Israel, taking the form of a propaganda-based public denunciation; (ii) a “double standard” practice, namely a unilateral and unjust rejection of Israel, irrespective of any actual analysis of the facts discussed; (iii) a demonization of Israel, seen as “evil” (racization/Nazification of Israel), as the embodiment of an endemic criminality (killings of Palestinian children) and a global Jewish (“Zionist”) conspiracy whose “head” is to be found in Israel; (iv) a deligitimization of Israel through its isolation in all possible respects (the BDS campaign is the “humanitarian” mask of an essentially warlike propaganda tactic); (v) a call for a radical “de-Zionization” of the Jewish state, which, in its most extreme form, may take genocidal characteristics; see Pierre-André Taguieff, Une France antijuive? Regards sur la nouvelle configuration judéophobe (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2015), pp. 87–88.

3. Taguieff, L’Antisémitisme, p. 11.

4. The other mythical anti-Jewish themes are the following: “hatred of mankind,” ritual murder, deicide, constant wandering, duplicity, usury, speculation, tendency toward conspiracy (“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”). Ibid., pp. 88-89.

5. Taguieff, Une France antijuive? p. 90.

6. “H τρομοκρατία ως εργαλείο πολιτικής” [“Terrorism as an instrument of politics”], June 30, 2017. In her recent (February 2017), unpublished, PhD thesis (on the ideological-political character of the Greek and European far right at the turn of the 21st century), political scientist Anastasia E. Iliadeli has shown (in a most convincing and ground-breaking way) that Golden Dawn’s anti-Semitism is actually the ideological starting point for all the other ideological and programmatic objectives of that racist/Nazi organization. See Anastasia E. Iliadeli, The National-Populist Right in Greece and Europe at the Turn of the 21st Century, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Political Science,

7. “Το Ισραήλ στηρίζει και εξοπλίζει τους αντιπάλους του Άσαντ στην Συρία” [“Israel supports and arms Assad’s rivals in Syria”], June 27, 2017.

8. “Πού οφείλεται η αντιρωσική υστερία των σιωνιστών” [“What is the cause of the Zionists’ anti-Russian hysteria?”], June 27, 2017.

9. “Εθνικισμός: ο μόνος δρόμος ενάντια στην Παγκοσμιοποίηση” [“Nationalism: The only way against Globalization”], June  24, 2017.

10. “Στη φόρα αρχεία του σιωνιστή Σόρος: Μίσος για τους Έλληνες εθνικιστές-Επίσημος χρηματοδότης των αντι-συγκεντρώσεων της Χρυσής Αυγής” [“Zionist Soros archives exposed: Hatred for Greek nationalists—He was the official financial backer of anti-Golden-Dawn demonstrations”], August 15, 2016.

11. “Έθνος και πατρίδα εναντίον Παγκοσμιοποίησης—Απόρρητα έγγραφα Σόρος” [“Nation and homeland against Globalization—Restricted Soros documents”], June 30, 2017.

12. Léon Poliakov, La causalité diabolique: Essai sur l’origine des persécutions: Du joug mongol à la victoire de Lénine, prefaced by Pierre-André Taguieff (Paris: Mémorial de la Shoah/Calmann-Lévy, 2006), pp. 9–13.

13. The above leftist and anarchist reactions were gleaned from three announcements issued by organizations that played a leading part in the recent “anti-Zionist” protests: “Ανεπιθύμητος ο ακροδεξιός σιωνιστής Νετανιάχου στην Ελλάδα” [“Far-right Zionist Netanyahu is unwelcome in Greece”], June 8, 2017; “Έξω ο μακελάρης του παλαιστινιακού λαού Νετανιάχου από την Ελλάδα” [“Netanyahu, the murderer of the Palestinian people, should not be allowed to visit Greece], June 11, 2017; “Να υποδεχτούμε τους σφαγείς της Παλαιστίνης όπως τους αρμόζει. Ενάντια στην Ισραηλινή κατοχή της Παλαιστίνης” [“The slaughterers of Palestine should be received and treated as they deserve. Against the Israeli occupation of Palestine”], June 13, 2017.

14. A product of sheer ignorance or an ideologically perverted understanding of Zionism and Israel’s establishment, this view obscures historical reality itself. Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people, was a secular, liberal-progressive movement and, moreover, a product of the Enlightenment. The establishment of Israel was primarily based on this political movement—it was not a response to anti-Semitism or European “remorse” for the Holocaust. On this see Georges Bensoussan’s valuable study, Une histoire intellectuelle et politique du sionisme 1860–1940 (Paris: Fayard, 2002).

15. Essentially adopting the victim nationalist myth of the Nakba, invented as a counterweight to the Holocaust. For a deconstruction of this victim mythology, see Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle propagande antijuive (Paris: PUF, 2010), pp. 157–69.

16. For more on this, see Pierre-André Taguieff, Israël et la question juive (Paris: Les Provinciales, 2011), pp. 59–65.

17. See Taguieff, Une France antijuive? p. 50.

18. “Μια νέα νομοθεσία αποκαλύπτει τον ρατσιστικό χαρακτήρα του ισραηλινού κράτους” [“New legislation exposes the Israeli state’s racist character”], March 24, 2017. This was not the first time that the neo-Nazi organization had accused Israel of “racism”—which, according to Golden Dawn, is even harsher than the South African one. Nevertheless, “racist Zionists” want to impose the passing of antiracist legislation in Greece, aiming to “destroy our Nation” and “eliminate Greeks and their culture worldwide.” See “Ο ρατσισμός του Ισραήλ που βρίσκεται στο απυρόβλητο” [“Israeli racism is beyond reproach”], November 23, 2013. In another text, published more recently on the same Golden Dawn website, “racist Israel” is accused of committing a “slow and indirect genocide” against the Palestinian people by depriving them of access to water; see “Το Ισραήλ έχει αποκλεισμένους 2.000.000 Παλαιστινίους στην Γάζα χωρίς νερό και ρεύμα” [“Israel has blocked access to water and electricity for 2,000,000 Palestinians in Gaza”], July 14, 2017. The “anti-Zionist” and “Israelophobic” defense of the Palestinians is almost daily proved to serve as a permanent ideological stratagem for Golden Dawn; see “Το σιωνιστικό Ισραήλ συνεχίζει να σκοτώνει εν ψυχρώ Παλαιστινίους” [“Zionist Israel keeps killing Palestinians in cold blood”], July 22, 2017.

19. “Ανεπιθύμητος ο χασάπης Νετανιάχου στην πόλη μας” [“Butcher Netanyahu is unwelcome in our city”], June 13, 2017.

20. “Η Παλαιστίνη αιμορραγεί” [“Palestine is bleeding”], June 14, 2017.

21. Taguieff, Une France antijuive? pp. 230–35.

22. “Η αμυντική και ενεργειακή συνεργασία με το Ισραήλ συνιστά προδοσία” [“The defence- and energy-related cooperation with Israel is an act of sheer treason “], February 3, 2014. As N. Michaloliakos himself put it in a more recent statement aiming to attack the “sinful” Greek political system, Greece must not become a country like France, “where the Prime Minister is a former Rothschild employee”, by which he meant Emanuel Macron, the current French President; see “Στόχος μας οι αρνητές του αμαρτωλού καθεστώτος,” July 20, 2017.

1 comment to Conspiracy “Anti-Zionism”: The Current Face of Judeophobia: Ideological Aspects of the Greek Case

  • Michael Caplan

    I’ve just recently discovered Telos … Currently reading the collection of essays “For a New Naturalism”, and now this brilliant essay. Thank you so much!