I know it might seem a little … how did someone on Twitter put it? “Gross.” However, we will not accept a donation from anyone with ulterior motives, and Michelle and Jessica will at all times be accompanied by a burly chaperon. No donations will be accepted without a prior interview and all meetings will take place in public. I know this offer seemed provocative, and it is, but it’s not sleazy. What’s really provocative is the notion that charging a Jewish philanthropist $5,000-$7,500 for a chance to speak to intelligent and articulate young Jews is actually a good deal compared to whatever outreach they are doing now. That’s totally fucking outrageous if you ask me.
Dude, this whole thing isn’t objectionable because of the possibility that someone might try to have sex with these women (I’m not going to mince words here). It’s objectionable because that’s what they’re supposed to want. It’s transparently obvious that Jewlicious is selling these women on the basis of their sex appeal. As Naomi Zeveloff points out (from that same Sisterhood post):
Strangely, the site doesn’t link to the work of either of these “capable, intelligent and fierce” women, leaving one to guess that it’s not their dazzling resumes that might be of interest to potential donors, but the photos at the top of the post.
It’s nice of her to say “strangely,” but let’s be honest: this kind of thing is only strange to people who’ve never heard of sexism. To anyone with any understanding of patriarchy , this kind of stunt is depressingly normal.
We’ve alreadywritten about the Kol Nidre service that Jewschool founder Dan Sieradski organized at Occupy Wall Street, as well as the companion services at other Occupy events around the country. Other media took quite a bit of notice as well, including this rather shoddy Commentary piece:
Aren’t we usually concerned that the Jews of today don’t care about being Jewish anymore? Yet when an event comes along that brings together hundreds of Jews on less than a week’s notice, it gets criticized because it’s too effective?
During the years, those whose politics tend toward the right have had to accustom themselves to the unthinking sanctimony of leftists who rage against any semblance of an alliance of religion and right-wing politics…
“Those whose politics tend toward the right” vs. “leftists.” Notice the difference in language? It’s an attempt to paint “those whose politics tend towards the right” as inherently more reasonable than those crazy “leftists.” Liberals are blinded by their rabid ideology, while conservatives hold informed and moderate beliefs.
Furthermore, what we liberals tend to object to is not the “alliance” of religion and politics. Rather, we object to the use of political power to advance a religious agenda. Occupy Yom Kippur is the opposite of that: it’s a call for political change based on religious beliefs about morality. Having religiously-based opinions on political issues is perfectly legitimate: it’s protected by the free exercise clause. Using political power to influence religious matters is prohibited by the same (or by the establishment cause, depending on the context).
It must be said there is of course justification to be found for specifically economic protests of a leftist variety in the prophets, perhaps most especially Isaiah. But it stretches truth far beyond the breaking point to claim such texts based on conditions in ancient Israel offer much guidance for the policy questions of our day…
Here’s a post on Commentary’s blog that describes Itamar, the settlement where the Fogel family was brutally murdered, as located in “Samaria,” “an area with biblical significance.” I expect Commentary will quickly correct that language, since it’s “based on conditions in ancient Israel” that don’t “offer much guidance for the policy questions of our day.”
Oh, and I found that post by searching “Samaria” on Commentary’s site. It was the top hit. Here are twomore recent articles from the first page of results where Commentary uses or expresses support for the biblical name for the territory now known as the West Bank.
Let their successes be few, and the passage of their movement from the American Jewish scene swift.
Seriously, I just can’t get over the pretension implicit in so much of the Jewish mainstream media. One minute they’re telling us all to stick together in the face of adversity, dire threats to Jewish peoplehood, and (gasp!) anti-Zionism. The next they’re condemning a Jewish grassroots movement that has a lot of people very excited. I understand that they disagree with the movement’s goals. That’s their right. But the condescension with which they approach it is reminiscent of, well, the rest of the mainstream media. In other words, they’re not exactly in good company.
So says Larry Derfner – he was canned for a blog post he wrote (now removed) titled “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror.” Apparently, a lot of Jerusalem Post subscribers cancelled their subscriptions after reading his post.
Shame on them.
I’m taking the easy way out by blaming a large group of people that I have no control over (I tend to like making arguments about things I can actually have an effect on) but this is just one more instance of a trend in “civilized” communities the world over – Israel & the Jewish community at large being no exception. Reading something you consider disagreeable or even abominable in a publication you subscribe to is generally a bad reason to unsubscribe from that publication. Media organizations exist to challenge the way we think about the world, and rejecting any opinion that doesn’t fit with our existing notion of how the world works completely undermines that purpose.
Derfner makes a really solid point here:
By skewing my words so badly, today’s Post column, the Web commentaries and what the Post will publish on page one tomorrow portray a writer announcing that he wants Israelis to get killed, instead of one who’s trying to stop that from happening.
Putting myself in the position of those who cancelled their subscriptions, I can understand being shocked by what Derfner wrote (although I haven’t read the original column). He doesn’t seem ashamed of that. But saying that he wants Israelis killed is the last refuge of a scoundrel. After all these years, we shouldn’t have to keep saying that just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they want civilians exploded, children shot, or puppies killed. Seriously, folks.
How many more of these “X was fired from her/his position at Important Newspaper after writing a column criticizing Netanyahu/settlers/terrorists/the flotilla/etc.” stories am I going to write? Cutting down the number of smart journalists writing about Israel-Palestine is going to help exactly no one.
…it is not Islam per sebut the very restraints on print and the idolization of language, among other factors, that are responsible for the benighted state of intellectual achievement in that orbit.
Peretz has mastered the art of turning a seemingly highly culturally-aware observation into a complete non-fact uninformed by, well, anything (and certainly lacking any understanding of basic cultural relativism). Perhaps he’s forgotten that the Islamic world gave us, you know, the foundations of algebra and chemistry. Those are kind of important.
The rest of the article is similar. Peretz says lots of things I agree with, lots I don’t, and still manages to come off sounding like a pretentious Western intellectual supremacist.
Update: videos are now embedded in the post. Enjoy!
As I mentioned in my brief first-day J Street conference round up post, I secured interviews with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative (best known for the Ground Zero Mosque, which is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque), and Mona Eltahawy, the Egyptian journalist and activist who rocked the socks off the J Street conference. Those videos are now online; the YouTube playlist is here. There are three videos – Mona Eltahawy on social media in the Jasmine Revolution and its potential in the future of the Arab and Muslim world, my question for Imam Rauf on the religious justification for his work, and footage of a few other press-folk asking him questions. Check them out!
Mona did a superb job of addressing the straw man argument made by most of the prominent critics of the social-media-as-organizing-tool theory (Malcolm Gladwell, Evgeny Morozov, etc.). That is, she made a strong case for how Twitter and Facebook were essential in helping garner support for a mass meeting and demonstration of a kind that was quite rare under Mubarak. Notably, she doesn’t claim that it was Twitter or Facebook that toppled the regime. No, that distinction belongs to the brave Egyptians who risked their lives to claim their basic human rights of freedom of speech and assembly. But if you look closely, most of us arguing for social media’s importance in democratic movements aren’t saying that it’s the Internet itself that overthrows regimes, just that it’s a tool for those who desire to do so. The key to any organized resistance movement, especially one that aspires to nonviolence, is organization. Today, the Internet is often one of the last places where free exchange of ideas can take place. Its fast pace and adaptability mean that dedicated users can often stay one step ahead of those trying to shut down the flow of information. This is what makes it important and in some ways game-changing.
Imam Rauf, who’s been one of my personal heroes for a long time, spoke beautifully about the religious underpinnings of his peace work. I hadn’t planned to ask him about this – the question came about as a result of a topic of discussion on the panel on Jewish-Muslim community relations on which he’d just spoken. One Jewish community leader explained a program called “Iftar in the Sukkah,” in which local Muslims and Jews gathered at an Orthodox shul to share the evening break-fast meal during Ramadan, which for the past few years has overlapped with Sukkot. The image of Muslims and Jews taking part in this ritual together was, for me, amazing, and reminded me of the phrase “ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha” – “spread over us your sukkah of peace.” This is pretty much one of my favorite liturgical lines ever, and I felt that I just had to ask Imam Rauf about it. So I mentioned that connection, and asked him what scriptural or Islamic theological justification he found for his work. His answer, that it’s rooted in the very word “Islam,” coming from “Salaam,” was completely in line with his messages of peace and mutual understanding.
I continue to be inspired by the work that both of these courageous activists do every day. Mona Eltahawy speaks truth to power, and Imam Rauf (and the Park 51 project overall) has handled himself with incredible grace in the face of one of the worst smear campaigns I’ve ever seen, and more generally in a climate of increasing American Islamophobia. May they both continue their work and dedication, and may their efforts be rewarded.
I was fortunate enough to get interviews (on video!) with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative and Mona Eltahawy, both incredible thinkers and speakers. The internet at my hostel (and at the conference) is incredibly slow, so I’ll post them once I’m back at home.
More generally, though, the conference this year has a different feel than the last. The moments of complete inspiration are a bit fewer, but there’s much more of a sense of cohesiveness between sessions. J Street has really matured as an organization, and I think a lot of the credit for this goes to the work of the locals, who provide a reference to the real conditions that activists face in attempting to advance the Israel-Palestine discussion on the ground. This isn’t to enforce the view of all Washington politicians as part of a bubble, totally disconnected from the outside world, just to say that a connection to those who are actually the constituents is an invaluable asset for an organization that values its supporters’ views.
Now more than ever, I feel that J Street values mine.
This weekend, several of us from Jewschool will join over 2,000 other people in DC for the 2011 J Street conference. The reasons for my continued involvement with and support for J Street are complex. On the one hand, I harbor deep moral reservations concerning the idea of religious or ethnic states. Yet I find the idea of a binational state completely unworkable, in that I don’t think it would materially improve Palestinians’ lives (I tend to think it would worsen them).
So what’s a Jew to do? I realized early on in my activism that J Street was a unique organization. Unique not only in its policy positions, but in its belief of how those positions should be articulated, advanced, and discussed. J Street’s dual function – advancing a liberal view of Israel that treats Palestinians as partners in nation-building rather than obstacles to Jewish self-determination while simultaneously establishing a robust space where Israel-Palestine activism can stem from real, respectful discussion – is often criticized as a weakness, but I view it as a strength. Having spent the last few years getting more and more deeply involved with J Street, and, as a consequence, surrounding myself more and more with like-minded Jews, it’s easy for me to forget the guttural fear and hatred that J Street still inspires in some of its foes. That fear, itself a symptom of close-mindedness, is what convinces me that J Street is doing something right. It’s what keeps me passionate about my activism. And it’s what keeps me excited about the vast amount of work that still remains to be done.
Working with J Street has caused me to question how the traditional pro-Israel narrative is presented, and to reflect on how this narrative permeates so many aspects of Jewish cultural and religious life. This weekend, I’m looking forward to fresh inspiration from people who’ve dedicated their careers and lives to democratizing that narrative and opening it to criticism, revision, and ownership by those of us who for too long were defined out of its constituency.
If you’ll be at the conference, let us know! We’d love to see you there.
So with our eyes wide open, it is important to assert that Israel’s vision of its future cannot be premised upon an eternity of Arab authoritarianism and an eternity of Palestinian statelessness. Such a vision is wrong, and it will not work. It is painful, for someone who admires the Jewish state for its democratic character, to see it emerge as an enemy of democratization. Jews should not rely on Pharaohs.
One interesting side effect of the situation in Egypt has been to force defenders of Israel (I use this to mean anyone who doesn’t solely blame Israel for the perpetuation of the conflict) to decide where their sympathies lie: with people struggling for democracy against their own Pharoah, or with Netanyahu’s initial position of support for the Mubarak regime, which he’s since walked back (like the US). Israel is now coming into the phase of its nationhood where it has to grapple with the real issues that calling yourself a democracy brings – namely, supporting democracy in other places (something that modern democracies have in general been pretty bad at). This is to say nothing of the profoundly undemocratic nature of the occupation, but the situation in Egypt is a lot more visible, and poses more immediate diplomatic questions to the Israeli leadership.
As any of us who are at all politically involved can attest to, it’s pretty damn hard to stay optimistic about world politics. We’re surrounded by immense amounts of pain and suffering, and the governmental structures that supposedly exist to improve those conditions usually move far too slowly, often doing too little too late. I observe this dynamic everywhere I look – on Israel-Palestine, US domestic issues, foreign policy, and global financial problems. Particularly for progressives, who by definition are interested in “progress” – that is, substantive change in the way the world works – it’s incredibly frustrating to have to abide by the glacial pace of most policy discussions. More »
Jack Wertheimer and his team of sociologists and researchers have just released an incredibly informative report (PDF) examining the demographics, experiences, and work of young Jewish leaders, stemming from hundreds of interviews and thousands of survey responses. Notably, it avoids characterizing all activities undertaken by such people as necessarily “anti-establishment,” while delving far more deeply into the actual views they hold than any such study or article I’ve seen before. It covers just about every aspect of Jewish life, sorting Jewish organizational endeavors into three categories: protective, progressive, and expressive. The report files most older established organizations (AIPAC, AJC, ADL, etc.) under the “protective” category: they exist to protect some component of Jewishness (or Israel). Progressive organizations are those focused on causes such as environmentalism or social service, and expressive organizations are those specifically oriented toward new methods of Jewish expression.
It’s also notable that the report spends a fair amount of time analyzing how “establishment” organizations have been extremely important in actually creating these leaders: many have gone to day school and Jewish camps, and newer cutting-edge Jewish organizations are to a great extend funded and supported by older ones.
This dynamic receives less attention within the Jewish community than it should, in my view with important consequences. New organizations are often responses to perceived deficiencies in the existing system, not necessarily attempts to reject it out of hand. So even while older Jews and establishment organizations fund the newer ones, Jews at large often perceive the two as diametrically opposed. This isn’t to say “there’s more unity in the Jewish community than you think” (I hate the “we actually all agree” argument – it’s stupid to try to sugarcoat internal divisions), just that young Jews get a bad rap as being uninterested in anything establishment. The flip side, which the report also covers, is that young Jews need to be less reactionary in distancing themselves from the establishment.
Check out the full report for more in-depth analysis of current trends in Jewish organizations and communities.
P.S. I used the word “establishment” six times in this post. Actually, now it’s seven. Anyone have an idea for a better word? I’m a bit tired of it.
If you’ve got an opinion on Israel or the not-Ground-Zero not-mosque, head over to The Forward / Berman Jewish Policy Archive survey Facebook page and make it known! As these types of polls go, it’s actually quite good (although not, as one of our contributors lamented on an email thread, illustrated by Eli Valley. Next year in Jerusalem, maybe).
I personally am particularly interested to see how the opinions on Park51 fall among Jews, especially those who describe themselves on the survey as having “followed the issue closely.” We’ll see…
Repentance shouldn’t be about wallowing in guilt. In his sermon last night, my rabbi spoke about this at length. It’s something I’ve thought about before, and it really speaks to me.
These days I’m pretty much never at synagogue. Back when I was at school (I’m currently taking a year off), I participated in the Chavurah minyan each week, which I loved. But here, I find that praying congregation-style just doesn’t do it for me. And last night I realized for the first time that one of my personal sources of guilt on Yom Kippur comes from actually being at synagogue, precisely because I’m so rarely there. I feel guilt for not being more a part of the community. Guilt for being so unfamiliar with the liturgy. Guilt that my Hebrew is so bad. Guilt for not truly feeling that the path to repentance involves asking for permission to repent.
So, like last year at Brown, I didn’t go to services today, albeit for slightly different reasons. I’m at home, on my own. Here I can observe Yom Kippur guilt-free, thinking about ways in which I can repent for me, myself, and I. My lack of belief in G()d in the traditional sense of an entity or concept that has at least some manifest control of my life or the world leads me to understand that I repent for my own benefit, and for that of those around me. Repenting helps me become a better person. I take responsibility for my flaws, my problems, my errors, and I ask those around me to understand them, and join with me as I try to grow past them. That growth might involve additional involvement with the community. Or it might not.
This approach to observance is a source of conflict with my family, who feel strongly that going to shul is a family operation. And while I respect the desire to observe the day together, I can’t subvert my feelings on what it means for me to be a Jew to the family’s feelings on what it means to be a Jewish family. The same holds for a congregation. Yom Kippur is too important for me to follow anyone’s patterns of observance but my own. I’m sure that those patterns will continue to change, and as they do, I’ll do my best to understand and remain true to them.
My rabbi made a bold move during his d’var Torah on the first day of Rosh Hashanah services this year. After a brief word on Park 51 earlier in the service, in which he condemned the bigoted opposition in the strongest terms I could have imagined, I wasn’t expecting too much more fire and brimstone, especially on Israel-Palestine. And he looked sort of nervous to me – who wouldn’t, facing such a large crowd (this is Rosh Hashanah, mind you, so we’re talking every Jew in town) that was by and large far more conservative than you. Yet he called for an end to the Gaza blockade and asked congregants to write a letter to Netanyahu’s office urging him to fully engage in the peace talks and bring home results. Strong stuff.
Nine years after the attacks of 9/11, I want to stop and think about framing. How we frame conflicts, both in our mind and externally, has a lot to do with more concrete things like foreign policy, or the nature of the domestic discourse on an issue. 9/11 was an attack on the core of Americanism, and not only because of the physical spectacle of the WTC being leveled by a bunch of reclusive angry dudes. It represents the clash of two worldviews – an American constitutionalist perspective in which personal freedom is of the highest importance, and a religious fundamentalist one (which religion it is is completely irrelevant) in which those who think wrong, believe wrong, act wrong, are to be punished by those who know better. It’s disgusting no matter who it comes from.
In that bin Laden most likely knew what the U.S.’ response to 9/11 would be (“We have raced to Afghanistan and Iraq, and more recently to Yemen and Somalia; we have created a swollen national security apparatus; and we are so absorbed in our own fury and so oblivious to our enemy’s intentions that we inflate the building of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan into a national debate and watch, helpless, while a minister in Florida outrages even our friends in the Islamic world by threatening to burn copies of the Koran,” says Ted Koppel), he made a masterful calculation in goading us into it. But I can’t help but think that he also gave us the greatest opportunity ever to definitively rise above the war-on-terror paradigm. It’s not too late to change course and stop trampling on the mangled remains of the constitutional freedoms (see above links, courtesy of Koppel) bin Laden sought to demonstrate the inferiority of, an effort for which we’ve done far more than he ever could have. This would take a reframing at the national level, something Obama did a bit of in his Cairo speech, but, more importantly, it would also take people of conscience standing up to bigotry at every level. Park 51 is the starkest example we’ve seen so far that this society has yet to move past the paralyzing ethos of American vs. un-American. Or, in simpler terms, a lot of people in this country are still racist.
And so, G()d’s children are still drowning. And until we end the war on terror abroad and the war on Islam at home, and until we, as my rabbi urged, truly walk in the other’s shoes and know their pain as we do our own, the water rises higher. May the memories of the 3000 innocents who died on 9/11, and the thousands more who have died since in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and more, not be forgotten.
Yossi Sarid at Haaretz has a somewhat fiery condemnation of Haredi attitudes toward the State of Israel.
The ultra-Orthodox public, which has always been cutting down our trees, is now uprooting them. It will destroy basic values, without which a democratic, developed state cannot exist. It will be lost unless it fights back.
He raises some interesting questions: in what ways to Haredim benefit from the existence of the State of Israel as it currently functions? In what ways do they come into conflict with its values? These aren’t questions for which I have anywhere near the requisite authority or experience to give an answer (and I’m not trying to imply one, but they’re worth asking.
In my last post, I expressed strong dismay at specific actions of the Freedom Flotilla organizers:
When the Gaza Freedom Flotilla refused Noam Shalit’s offer to advocate for them with the Israeli government if they’d deliver items to his son, they demonstrated a motive in their analysis of the conflict.
Two commenters, kyleb and Jew Geuvara, quickly pointed out a factual error on my part which I feel deserves its own post not merely as a retraction and acknowledgement of insufficient research on my part, but because it significantly changes my perception of the situation. kyleb’s comment linked to this article which contains the following statement:
Israel claims that we refused to deliver a letter and package from POW Gilad Shalit’s father. This is a blatant lie.
Read the rest of the article for the full story, but it appears that the flotilla’s purported refusal to deliver said letter and package was concocted entirely to smear the flotilla, whose organizers had in fact agreed to Noam Shalit’s request. Not only does this damage the image of Noam Shalit as a peace activist, but it absolves the flotilla of a great deal of blame in the situation. While I’m still furious at whoever thought it was good idea to fight back at the commandoes boarding the Mavi Marmara, I no longer view the two parties (Israel and the flotilla organizers) as equally culpable. While I reject the characterization of Israel as brutal, bloodthirsty, and having planned a “massacre” (a term which I find inaccurate and non-constructive), I believe they deserve the lion’s share of the blame for what went wrong.
“There are 1.5 million people living in Gaza and only one of them really needs humanitarian aid,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said to the Knesset on Monday. “Only one of them is locked in a tiny room and never sees the light of day, only one of them is not allowed visits and is in uncertain health – his name is Gilad Shalit, and this month four years will have passed since he was kidnapped.”
“In fact, there is no humanitarian crisis.” – ADL Director Abe Foxman
If your analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from a desire to rationalize Israeli policies no matter what, you end up making completely asinine statements like those above.
Shalit is often invoked as a method of ignoring or excusing the suffering of Gazans, which is a shame, because his captivity is horrible, inhumane, and criminal. The difficulty for someone like me who unequivocally opposes both the blockade and his captivity is in not coming off as belittling the former. So Barak’s quote hits me especially hard – denying the extent of the externally-imposed suffering, economic isolation, and restriction of natural development that the blockade causes, in order to shift the conversation to a single captive soldier of your army is just dishonest. This isn’t even a matter of comparing suffering (see this New Voices post for my thoughts on why that’s unproductive anyway) – using Shalit as a tool to shift the conversation away from the real-life effects of the blockade does a disservice both to Gazans and Shalit.
And it goes both ways. When the Gaza Freedom Flotilla refused Noam Shalit’s offer to advocate for them with the Israeli government if they’d deliver items to his son, they demonstrated a motive in their analysis of the conflict. Rather than accepting his offer of peace (which would have provided them with a tactical advantage as well), they chose to do exactly what Ehud Barak did, only in reverse. There’s very little excuse for not engaging in a humanitarian mission (and “because it doesn’t fit our opinion of the situation” is particularly weak). Had the Freedom Flotilla carried Noam Shalit’s package and letter to his son, they would have become a powerful metaphor for the peace activists’ ability and willingness to reach across to the Other and understand their pain. Instead, they demonstrated that there was no room for an Israeli’s suffering in their precooked narrative.
In the same way, Israel must immediately lift the blockade, and until they do, Jewish American leaders must stop excusing it. Having an honest debate about its merits and effects is legitimate, but Barak and Foxman take it too far. Changing the terms of the conversation in the manner they do is plain old dishonest.
I’ve seen footage of the confrontations aboard the flotilla that suggest that the passengers on the ships were ready for an armed attack. @IsraelMFA (on Twitter) is already using this to claim that the IDF was right to board the ships. I’m not so sure. Obviously the passengers knew Israel wasn’t just going to let them through, and while I very much disagree with their decision not to act peacefully upon being boarded (which would have kept this in the realm of peaceful civil disobedience), I do think that Israel deserves the lion’s share of the blame for deciding to board the ships a) in international waters and b) with soldiers instead of riot police – a clear message that they didn’t prioritize peaceful resolution.
Moving forward, I think this is going to be as big or bigger than Cast Lead. The accuracy of the image of Israel as a violent aggressor against peaceful activists is certainly debatable (I think the protesters should have stuck to pacifism if only to increase the accuracy and power of that image), but it’s what the world is going to see. We’re at a turning point.
My father commented to me that if Israel was a person, they’d have been committed to a mental institution by now for acting suicidal. I really can’t understand the thinking that went into Israel’s actions today. There is no plausible way that they’re going to come out on top of this one. So far, I’m not sure whether or not that’s a good thing, but it looks pretty indisputable from here.
As I’ve written about before, I grew up with little connection to the State of Israel. Recently, I’ve come to consider the political, economic, and cultural realities that make advocating for the disassembly of Israel impractical and completely counterproductive to the struggle for peace, but I still feel uncomfortable calling myself a Zionist, or “pro-Israel”, because I have some deep abiding problems with religious states in general.
So what do I call myself? Well, I’ve invented a new term. I’m an ambi-Zionist. Rather than being a Zionist or an anti-Zionist, I’m somewhere right in the middle. Although I don’t reject Israel as a Jewish state, I don’t feel that supporting its existence is a component of my Jewish identity. My political activism on the issue is not because of my religious inclinations, but because of my religious affiliation. In other words I’m going to be associated with the issue no matter what, so I feel that I should engage it head-on and develop an educated opinion. Additionally, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn’t just belong to the Jews and the Palestinians (i.e. others can, should, and do get involved), so my activism isn’t solely because I’m Jewish.
Ambi-Zionism gives me the space to develop a Jewish identity unrelated to Israel and opinions traditionally considered Zionist, anti-Zionist, or anywhere in between. Having a name for myself doesn’t take away the need to create an identity organically, but it makes that identity easier to describe. I like that “ambi-Zionist” is fairly noncommittal but also quite expressive – it implies a level of open-mindedness and appreciation of diverse opinions that I aspire to. My hope is that it will help bring me closer to that ideal.