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liberal zionism

  • Beyond Liberal Zionism: How I became a non-Zionist

    Changes in Israeli society are rendering Liberal Zionism's political program impracticable and irrelevant. Non-Zionism provides an alternative. By Daniel J. Solomon The past decade has not been kind to Liberal Zionists. Israel’s far-right government has undermined democratic norms at every turn, entrenched occupation via continued settlement building, and sought to snuff out the national aspirations of Palestinians. Meanwhile, the American left has taken a harder line on Israel that shades into questioning the Jewish state’s right to exist. [tmwinpost] Being a Liberal Zionist today means inhabiting a political no man’s land. And there is something to admire in the tenacity…

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  • Welcome to Netanyahu's fortress state

    The detention and interrogation of high-profile figures such as Peter Beinart and Reza Aslan at Israeli entry points is forcing liberal American Jews to reckon with what Israel is becoming. Over the last month, the Israeli and international media reported several incidents involving Shin Bet agents at ports of entry to Israel detaining prominent Jewish Americans for lengthy, aggressive questioning about their political views. [tmwinpost] Meyer Koplow, chair of Brandeis University's Board of Trustees and a prominent donor to Israeli causes, was detained before his flight out of Ben Gurion Airport and questioned because security agents found in his suitcase a brochure about Palestine. Moriel Rothman-Zecher, an Israeli citizen who lives in…

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  • British Jews are speaking out on Israel. Will the progressive community have our back?

    We expected attacks on anti-occupation voices by Britain's Jewish communal leaders. Now our progressive Jewish institutions are turning their backs on us when we need them most. By Emily Hilton In May of this year, a group of U.K.-based Jewish anti-occupation activists held a demonstration in London’s Parliament Square, where we recited the kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, for the Palestinians who have been killed by the IDF during the Great Return March. The views on Israel and Zionism amongst the participants were diverse, but one thing unified all of us: we care about what being done in the name of Judaism, and…

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  • 'For many young American Jews, the Trump-Bibi axis is the enemy'

    There have always been undercurrents of dissent within American Jewry when it comes to Israel. After all, it was progressive Jewish Americans, radicalized by the New Left of the 1960s, who became the avant-garde of the American Jewish Left, demanding that the Israeli government enter into talks with the PLO decades before it became Israeli policy. It was radical American Jews who, just a decade after protesting the Vietnam War, began demonstrating outside Israeli embassies and consulates during the First Lebanon War. Decades later, we tend to hear a great deal about the changing relationship between American Jews and Israel, whether…

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  • Rattling the Gilded Cage: An Interview with Larry Derfner

    “No Country for Jewish Liberals,” by Larry Derfner, Just World Books, 260 pp., $26.95 Moving to Israel was an experiment of sorts for Larry Derfner. As a journalist, it was an attempt to advance his career. More significantly, at least with the benefit of hindsight, it was an attempt to reconcile the intoxicating appeal of muscular nationalism with the liberal values he absorbed in his Los Angeles home and by coming of age in the Vietnam-era anti-war movement. It was easier to be liberal in the United States because the real-world consequences of dovish policies rarely put you at personal…

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  • Zionists for BDS? Why not?

    While counterintuitive, liberal Zionists may be best able to achieve their goal of a just peace by joining forces with the BDS movement. Both groups stand to benefit enormously. By Ahmed Rizk The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is arguably one of the most significant developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the Oslo Accords were signed nearly a quarter century ago. The Palestinian-led movement calls upon the international community to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel until three demands are fulfilled: an end to the almost 50-year-long occupation of Palestine, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the…

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  • Can J Street coherently fight both boycott and occupation?

    After J Street U students were attacked at an anti-BDS conference this week, the lobby might want to reconsider the effectiveness of seeking common ground with extremists. Things got ugly at an anti-BDS conference at the United Nations this week when participants turned on a group of liberal university students in attendance. [tmwinpost] The conference, organized by the Israeli mission to the U.N., brought together many of the usual suspects working to counter the effects of the growing boycott movement. Students representing the university arm of J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby,” attracted the ire of the conference when they rose…

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  • The question isn't whether feminism has room for Zionism

    The question is whether Zionism can make room for a truly inclusive equality. In a recent New York Times op-ed “Does Feminism have Room for Zionists?” Emily Shire, who identifies as a feminist and a Zionist, argues that her belief in “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” should not be at odds with her feminism. According to Shire, women who seek to be included in the women's protests against the current U.S. administration should not have to face a "critical of Israel" litmus test. She takes issue with the Strike's platform, which specifically calls for the “decolonization of Palestine,” but which doesn't mention…

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  • Israel's travel ban strikes Liberal Zionism at its core

    Israel’s new anti-BDS law is antagonizing some of the state’s most loyal supporters, rewriting a decades-old relationship. Israel ramped up its fight against the global boycott movement last week, when the Knesset passed its own travel ban: a new law barring entry to any non-citizen or non–permanent resident who has publicly called for or pledged to support a boycott of Israel — or its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. How this new approach will play out politically — whether it will energize the BDS movement or scare off potential supporters — remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: the new…

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  • Could a Palestinian politician best represent American Jewish values?

    Progressive American Jews may be willing to stand alongside American Muslims, but are they ready to demonstrate the same solidarity for Arab citizens of Israel? Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, is a test case for where 'pro-peace' Jews draw the line. Progressive American Jews have had a hard time in recent years finding an Israeli political movement they can truly stand behind. As long as there was a peace process, it was fairly easy for a “pro-peace” supporter to know whom to back. Without a peace process, without even the prospect of a peace process, the main metric…

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  • Losing the will to fight Israel Apartheid Week

    It's getting harder and harder for liberal Zionists to reconcile an Israel that legitimizes settler land theft with the values they have been raised to believe the Jewish state stands for. By Ben Reiff I’ve been dreading Israel Apartheid Week since I arrived at university in London – a supposed hot-spot for Israel-Palestine tension on campuses. My understanding of what happens each year during Apartheid Week has always been a scene of hate-fueled anti-Israel, pro-BDS, “free Palestine”-chanting protesters, often facing off with equally hate-fueled anti-Palestine, pro-Israel, “Hatikvah” singing counter-protesters. As a Jew and an anti-occupation Zionist, as someone who sympathizes with…

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  • The age of Trump spells the end of the Zionist dream

    When Israel backs an American regime that threatens our liberty as humans and our safety as Jews, the claim that Zionism protects Jews no longer holds. By Ben Lorber For most American Jews, Donald Trump's regime has ushered in the most profound and destabilizing existential crisis since the Holocaust. We watch in horror as President Trump launches a full-frontal assault on the institutions, and the very principles, of the liberal democracy upon which we have built our lives for generations. We stand aghast as his administration tramples the civil liberties of our Muslim, immigrant and refugee neighbors, and we brace…

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  • From Umm el-Hiran, the future of Zionism looks bleak

    Israeli authorities delay the demolition of the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran. But it’s just a matter of time. A regime that by definition privileges one national group at the expense of another, the indigenous group, has no choice but to destroy Umm el-Hiran for the benefit of the Jews waiting to move in. Despite the Israel Land Authority’s (ILA) announcement that it would begin demolishing the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran Tuesday morning, in order to build a Jewish village in its place, the bulldozers didn’t show up. Instead of standing in front of the bulldozers, dozens of activists…

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