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  • WATCH: Noam Sheizaf at J Street: Nobody is talking about Gaza

    Speaking at the 2015 J Street Conference in Washington D.C. on Sunday, +972 co-founder and writer Noam Sheizaf participated in a plenary panel called "Does Liberal Zionism Have a Future?" Sheizaf called out both the conference and liberal American Jewry for the lack of discussion about the latest Gaza war. (Watch the full panel here.) Later in the discussion, Sheizaf explained the dichotomy between liberalism and Zionism as it manifests itself in Israel, concluding that talk of diplomatic solutions must be preceded by a real civil rights movement.

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  • The perennial dilemma of liberal Zionism

    For over a century, liberal Zionists have attempted to reconcile universal humanism with Zionist nationalism. A review of two prominent thinkers who failed. By Ran Greenstein The prospect of impending doom facing Liberal Zionism has been raised time and again in recent months, from the inane apologetics of Ari Shavit to the more sophisticated discussions of Jonathan Freedland in the NY Review of Books and Roger Cohen in the New York Times, culminating with the highly critical approach of Antony Lerman, also in the Times. While the war in Gaza played a role in this wave of lamentation, it is in…

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  • Can a settler be against the occupation?

    Is it possible to oppose the occupation from within the settlements? Does one become a settler because of their race, religion, political views, ideology, or just by living beyond the Green Line? One settler sets out to find answers, and you might just be surprised with what she has to say. By Orit Arfa People who’ve read my op-eds in Arutz 7 might think that publishing an article with such a title — in such an outlet — means I've defected from the cause of the “settlements.” (I know, they’re Jewish communities.) I have defected — from dogma, party lines,…

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  • Is a binational identity possible in Israel?

    Two academics get into a public intellectual debate over secular national identity and the characteristics of binationalism in the future of Israel or binational state. Despite their bitter assaults against one another's ideas, they are far closer than they realize. By Jeremiah Haber It’s open season on Prof. Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University in the pages of Haaretz, following the publication of his latest book, How and Why I Stopped Being a Jew. The thesis of the book is that there is no such thing as secular Jewish experience (although he grants that there are people who have fashioned for themselves a…

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  • The price of turning Israel into another Scandinavia

    The reality of the Nordic economic model has little to do with the derisive way it is described by the 'The Marker' or 'The Economist.' One writer takes apart the right-wing business media's analysis, revealing the truth behind the successful social democracies. By: Ami Vatury (Translated from Hebrew by Rachel Beitarie) “The Scandinavian model” found in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland is exactly what the social left [1] says it is. It is an economic model based on large, strong, democratic trade unions; considerable involvement of the unions in management; a large public sector (relative to other countries); high taxes and…

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  • Liberal Zionism at 65: Fantasy and reality

    Liberal Zionism has had 65 years to prove Israel can indeed be both a Jewish state and a liberal democracy. Given its track record, is it time to put the ideology to rest?  By David Sheen Imagine if you would, for a minute, that Liberal Zionists have been proven correct: that it is totally possible for a state that accords privileges to members of one specific ethnic group only - Jews, in this case - to be a flourishing democracy. Imagine that Israel is indeed a Light Unto the Nations, and that people from all the other nations who see the…

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  • Is the IDF the world's most liberal institution?

    If you read the international press and watch the images of female and gay soldiers, it can sometimes seem that way. Yet an institution cannot be separated from its main function. Our company's staff sergeant at basic training was a short bald man, who used to terrorize us in our first days at camp with endless "repeated training" – a punishment for bad behavior that came in the form of push ups, jumps and running up hills with all kind of gear – bags, machine guns – once we even had to carry our beds. He also used to refer…

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  • Zionism's priority: Defend and advance the Jewish people

    The contradictions between liberal values of universality and Zionism may be exaggerated, but defense and advancement of the Jewish people remain Zionism's first priority. By Alex Stein In his article “How is Zionism different from other forms of nationalism?” Sean Lee argues that Israel is an “ethno-religious democracy” that must be opposed by universal liberals. I accept that there is a fundamental incompatibility between universal liberalism and Zionism, although I don't agree that the gaps are as vast as they're often made out to be. Leaving that aside, though, let’s work on the assumption that the continued existence of a…

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  • How is Zionism different from other forms of nationalism?

    Nationalism is inherently illiberal in its distinction between citizens and non-citizens. But are all nationalisms equally illiberal? And should we hold Israel to different standards than other countries that claim to be liberal democracies? By Sean Lee Two of my colleagues make the point that it is not only Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, that is illiberal, but rather nationalism in and of itself. I think that there is a lot of truth in this, especially given that much modern nationalism is rooted in 19th century European nationalism, which was decidedly illiberal in the way we define liberalism today. What I…

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  • Let's not talk about it: US Jews' problem discussing Israel

    My piece on last weekend's Haaretz Magazine, and some other thoughts on the issue While visiting New York last year, I got into a long political conversation with a friend, after which he invited me to dinner at his house. "But you must promise me we won't discuss Israel," he warned me. "It might ruin the evening." About the same time, a friend wanted to introduce me to her new Jewish-American partner. "The one thing we can't talk about is Israel," I was told. I wasn't the last time I heard such comments. In other cases, I saw people get…

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  • Israeli Liberals IV: Ending the occupation entails redistribution

    A genuine end to the occupation will entail a vast reorganization of space and a redistribution of resources and power. Israeli liberals have a lot to lose from such radical change. If anti-occupation activists wish to target a Jewish audience, they should look at disadvantaged Jewish groups, which have a lot less to lose and much to gain. In the previous posts of these series, I argued that Israeli liberals are not the right audience for anti-occupation activists, because of their elitist isolation within Israeli society and the benefits they derive from continued control of the Palestinians. But it is…

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  • At a rally for Egypt in Tel Aviv, some express racist ideas

    In a region saturated by journalists vying for the best story and often missing the most powerful ones, new media platforms have opened a space for the stories that fall through the cracks of mainstream reporting outlets. These platforms allow bold journalists to get to the heart of a society and investigate sentiments on the streets as opposed to accepting the prepackaged image which the state apparatus portrays. In Israel, these platforms shed light on many of  the preconceived notions that a majority of Israelis harbour about the Arab world. David Sheen, a journalist living in Tel Aviv, recently attended…

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  • Im Tirzu founder's strange fruit: Israeli democracy

    Ronen, I am the person who was talking to a friend of yours at the human rights rally a few weeks ago. Your Im Tirzu group was hanging out behind the other demonstrators, calling for human rights for Israelis too, said the young man, for settlers and the people of Sderot. He was a nice kid, I was rapping with him, trying to understand him. We had a good rapport. Then you suddenly noticed us. You walked over with a tense look on your face and asked him who he was talking to – then asked me if I was…

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