Zionism is not racism. You are absolutely right. Self-determination is a right. Of course it is.
However, some Zionist POLICIES in Israel are, to a very large degree, discriminatory (and on more personal levels, racist sometimes), whether you agree or not. As you mentioned, there are many moderates in Israel who understand this. But whether it is “security” walls, border checkpoints, or Israeli-only highways, discrimination based on identity widely exists. And it exists beyond governmental structures, legislative bodies, and what-have-you.
I always find it very annoying when at the end or the beginning of any article defending Israel and/or Zionism, writers conjure up images of a people rejected by everyone. The Holocaust, in my opinion, is the single most terrible event in modern history. No people should ever go through such horrors. However, the mere fact that, as you say, those people have “faced unprecedented persecution and discrimination on the grounds of religion alone” doesn’t automatically place Zionists above racism. Many Zionists, it just so happens, are in fact racists. And, of course, many anti-Zionists are themselves racists.
By the way, anti-Zionism cannot be racism because Zionism is not a race.
Majd Al Khaldi
U2 Economics and Political Science