Is it possible to be Pro-Israel and anti-Semitic? You bet.

Photo of Jerusalem from
Photo of a swastika and Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” from the ADL Philadelphia (@ADLPhiladelphia) Twitter feed

People point to Stephen Bannon’s support for Israel as an indicator that he couldn’t possibly be anti-Semitic (for example, in response to the Anti Defamation League opposing his appointment to a role in the White House).

But let’s consider why he is pro-Israel.

I think it is for two primary reasons:

  1. Israel acts as a “guardian at the gate” against the Islamic Extremist terrorist threat that Bannon believes is the biggest existential risk to the security of the United States and the rest of the Western capitalist world.
  2. Israel (in the hands of the Jews) plays a key role in (some believer’s interpretation of) Christian prophecy.

Here is Bannon on the threat of ISIS (speaking to a conference focused on poverty hosted by the Human Dignity Institute):

“…we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”
“And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.”
“I certainly think secularism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals, right? If you go back to your home countries and your proponent of the defense of the Judeo-Christian West and its tenets, often times, particularly when you deal with the elites, you’re looked at as someone who is quite odd. So it has kind of sapped the strength.
But I strongly believe that whatever the causes of the current drive to the caliphate was — and we can debate them, and people can try to deconstruct them — we have to face a very unpleasant fact: And that unpleasant fact is that there is a major war brewing, a war that’s already global. It’s going global in scale, and today’s technology, today’s media, today’s access to weapons of mass destruction, it’s going to lead to a global conflict that I believe has to be confronted today. Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act”

As Yael Sternhell, a Tel Aviv University professor of history and American studies says:

For many, “As long as Jews are in Israel fighting the ‘good fight’ with the Arab world as a bastion of American ideals and values in the Middle East, then they are very useful and admirable allies,” said Sternhell. “Once they are home demanding a multi-cultural democracy, demanding that the country accommodate their religion, their belief and their custom that is a different story.”

This article about the fallacy of the term “Judeo-Christian” values does a great job of explaining point #2.

As pointed out in the article:

“The Christian Bible states that before Jesus can return, Jews must once again possess the land of Israel. This idea is taken literally by many in the Religious Right. One man at a conservative summit in Iowa this past year claimed that, “in the end, [Jews] will see the light and they will become Christian.” This isn’t support based on the right to exist and practice Judaism. This is about a long game, where Jews will give up their faith for a returning Christ.”

So when people (like the aforementioned Mr. Bannon) say “I couldn’t possibly be an anti-Semite, I am pro-Israel”, I would challenge them and ask “why” they are Pro-Israel. If it is for the reasons above, I would say that doesn’t necessarily mean they hate Jews but it definitely isn’t proof that they don’t.

Additional source articles: