Israel

Trauma Club: Unpacking The Disconnect Between Liberal Zionism and the Anti-Zionist Movement

If I were an average Jew in the United States, uninvolved in activist communities, and I looked at the news over the past two weeks, I would think that the radical LGBT movement had lost its mind and turned into a violent, anti-Semitic mob. Several articles, from niche blogs to mainstream newspapers, have covered the recent firestorm at the National LGBT Task Force’s Creating Change conference, in which a crowd of anti-Zionist protestors demonstrated against a reception by A Wider Bridge — a group that aims to “build bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North Americans.”
Nearly every published report claims the action was anti-Semitic. Some pieces call the protest “violent.” Most condemn the entire queer left, and call upon our radical movements to affirm support for Israel. And yet, while I have read these pieces, spoken to people who were there (on both sides), watched nearly an hour of video footage, and begged my wide-ranging social media contacts to send me proof of anti-Semitism, it was only after four days of searching that I discovered a verified incident of actual anti-Jewish bias on the part of one individual protestor out of hundreds.
I am not discounting the possibility that other individuals may have made similar gestures, but why is the entire action — indeed the entire movement — being smeared as fundamentally anti-Semitic? Why are its base values and goals being falsely branded as anti-Jewish?
I want to offer my own perspective on this flashpoint moment, because I believe that queer, anti-Zionist Jews like myself have a unique ability to empathize with both sides of this controversy without getting lost in the comfortable fantasy that Israel/Palestine is “too complicated” to take a strong stand. 


First, I want to clarify where I’m coming from.
As an upper-middle class white Jew who grew up in the D.C. Metro area, I have a very conventional background. I was raised in a Reform synagogue, where my politically liberal parents were very active. My family taught me to critique Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, but we never considered the notion that Israel didn’t have “the right to exist.” It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally grappled with that idea. Did any states have the right to exist? Did countries themselves have rights at all? Why do we condemn an unequal distribution of rights in all states except Israel? When I eventually did come out to my family as an anti-Zionist, it was probably more painful than telling them I was gay. This is a fairly common experience for anti-Zionist gay Jews.
As an anti-Zionist, I do not just condemn the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Rather, I think there is something fundamentally wrong with any state that privileges one ethno-religious group over another. In Israel, the national interests of the Jewish people are prioritized above all others. That is the country’s founding principle, and it manifests every time the state bulldozes a Palestinian home in Jerusalem to make room for a Jewish neighborhood, and every time a Bedouin village in the Negev is destroyed so the Jewish National Fund can plant trees. These terrors happen within Israel itself, and they are not simply a matter of bad policy. Rather, this violence is fundamental to the character of a supremacist state that distinguishes between “Jewish” and “Arab” nationalities, and gives different rights to each. It is the root cause of injustice there.
From this perspective, as someone with experience in both the radical world and the mainstream Jewish world, I want to unpack some issues at the center of this controversy.

Is it anti-semitic to protest A Wider Bridge?

When A Wider Bridge announced they were hosting a reception at the Creating Change conference, featuring speakers from Jerusalem Open House — an LGBT community center in Israel — the anti-Zionist queer left responded with outrage, and many people unversed in these politics did not understand why. From their perspective, A Wider Bridge certainly doesn’t seem partisan or right wing. From their perspective, Israel itself has a right to exist, and will inevitably have LGBT citizens, so why shouldn’t we celebrate LGBT life in Israel? Without a deep understanding of the politics at play, there appears to be no obvious reason to condemn an event like this, except out of disdain for Jews, or paranoia that Israel, because it is a Jewish state, is somehow the root cause of injustice in the world. Those are, of course, traditional signs of anti-Semitism: Jews being scapegoated for problems they did not cause, and persecuted unfairly for things they did not do. And since the individuals at this reception have probably never personally persecuted any Palestinians (although, with mandatory military service for Israelis, this is not a sure thing), I can imagine seeing this protest and thinking: anti-Semitism.
But here’s the analysis from the anti-Zionist left, which I share: A major part of Israel’s strategy to maintain its unjust regime is to normalize and glamorize Israeli life, reinforcing the notion that a Jewish supremacist state is normal, natural, fun and interesting. This is especially important for nations that supply Israel with money, arms and other support, and no one does that more than the United States, which sends $3 billion dollars to Israel annually. Therefore any programs that aim to foster connections between U.S. citizens and Israel are also fundamentally nurturing a voter base that will bolster this supply of money and arms, which helps the Israeli state maintain its brutal policies and supremacist character with zero accountability or reason to change. When Israel or its supporters market to LGBT people specifically, encouraging them to visit Israel and form connections with Israel, this is called “pinkwashing,” or whitewashing Israel’s brutality with the veneer of modern gay life.
[pullquote align=right] A Wider Bridge actively participates in normalizing violence against Palestinians, even if its members do not feel as if they are, as individuals, directly hurting anyone, even if they are not taking orders directly from the Israeli government, and even if they are partnering with groups like Jerusalem Open House.
[/pullquote]From that perspective, A Wider Bridge actively participates in normalizing violence against Palestinians, even if its members do not feel as if they are, as individuals, directly hurting anyone, even if they are not taking orders directly from the Israeli government, and even if they are partnering with groups like Jerusalem Open House — an organization which claims a desire to transcend nationality. This analysis does not hinge on any particular opinions or feelings about Jews. It’s a political analysis, based on observations about political strategies, marketing and economics. You can feel free to disagree with an anti-pinkwashing strategy, or the larger strategy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions that aims to create punitive consequences for occupation, but I want any Jews following this controversy to understand that the aims behind these strategies are not based on anti-Jewish bias, but are rather based on political analysis, and descend from other major boycotts, like the successful boycott against apartheid South Africa. In fact, the fastest growing Jewish organization in the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace, supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. This is a valid Jewish strategy, supported by a growing number of Jews.

Is it anti-semitic to dream of a free Palestine “from the river to the sea?”

Many commentators have also focused on a chant used throughout the demonstration: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” They say that this chant is anti-Semitic because it implies that Israel should no longer exist. There was a time in my life when I, too, would have reacted this way. But what, exactly does it mean for Israel “to exist.” Does that mean it shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state? If Jews weren’t institutionally privileged under Israeli law, would Israel still be Israel? I believe that most Jews worldwide, when they are intellectually honest with themselves, would not support any state that privileges one group over another. It’s an inherently unjust concept. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. And yet, when someone calls to dismantle this injustice, we are afraid, because we think this can only happen with violence. We are afraid that, without state power, the Jews of Israel will be slaughtered. We are afraid that, without a Jewish state, we will have nowhere to run to if anti-Semitism rises in our home countries — as though Jews need a “back-up state” more than Palestinians need their homes.
The chant conjures images of Jews “being pushed into the sea.” Certainly some Palestinian armed resistance groups have called for such things. Certainly many Israelis have been the victims of Palestinian militant violence against civilians. And certainly Jews worldwide have watched this violence and feared for our own safety. Now, aside from the fact that Israel has enacted far more violence on Palestinians than the other way around, it is clear to anyone who really looks at Palestine that its civil society exists far beyond the ranks of violent paramilitary groups and desperate stabbers. In fact, the past decade has seen a massive flourishing of Palestinian non-violent activism in towns like Bil’in and Nabi Saleh, where weekly non-violent demonstrations have gone on for years, or in BDS itself, which is the largest non-violent movement in the history of Palestinian resistance. Do we really believe that full human rights for all Palestinians will inevitably, in all scenarios, result in the extermination of the region’s Jews? Are we really so cynical that we cannot imagine Palestinians in their full humanity as people capable of kindness, even as they attain justice and equity? Why can’t we imagine a free Palestine freeing us all?
After all, it’s less than a century after the Holocaust, and while there is still dangerous anti-Semitism in Germany (and even worse anti-Semitism further into eastern Europe) I can fly over there, make out with German boys, run around on the streets where I would have once been hunted as a double whammy of Nazi undesirability, and return home unscathed. Was this imaginable 70 years ago? 50? Obviously the situations are profoundly different in many ways, but the core lesson is valuable: that it is possible, after periods of seemingly intractable violence and hatred, with no hope in sight, for change to happen. Why have we so stifled our imaginations that we inevitably associate an oppressed people’s freedom with our own annihilation? And how can anything good happen while we cling to this cynicism?

Is it anti-semitic to scream with anger at a room full of Jews?

When I started watching video footage of the demonstration at Creating Change, what I saw was incredibly familiar. I saw a buoyant, vibrant protest by young queer and trans people, mostly people of color (POC). I saw a familiar spark of playfulness, a familiar brashness and a familiar reactivity. Young activists learn quickly how to respond to threats in the context of a march — especially young queer and trans POC, who are disproportionately threatened by police violence. It is not uncommon, in protests like this, for the crowd to notice violence against a fellow marcher and rally around that person, shout at the perpetrator, and create barriers between hostile outsiders and vulnerable demonstrators. This is a normal thing to happen, and it was developed to protect lives.
Another normal thing to happen at a protest like this is for demonstrators to prevent their opponents from speaking. In fact, this happens nearly every year at Creating Change, where keynotes are often stormed by POC activists who claim the stage and condemn structural injustice at the conference. While this might irk your average liberal who values dialogue and discourse, the strategy emerges from a deep frustration with being silenced by forces much larger than your average protest. In other words, when your opponents are supported by mainstream media — when you have to constantly explain your positions, in detail, because most people have never considered your perspective — it’s a fairly reasonable strategy to seize public platforms from those with wider influence.
After all, pro-Israel forces have a vast outreach platform, with seemingly endless opportunities to talk to friendly audiences in the United States. The Palestine solidarity movement, on the other hand, is not only largely silenced in our society, but it is being threatened with legal sanction that could squelch free speech in a much more serious and far-reaching manner than the actions of any given demonstration.
For example, the New York State Senate just passed a bill that would prevent the state from doing business with any companies or individuals that participate in the BDS movement. To be clear, the government would penalize people for exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech. If New Yorkers allow the State Assembly to pass the same bill, it will become law.
Think about the difference in scale here. A small protest shuts down a pro-Israel event and we get a dozen op-ed pieces accusing the protesters of opposing free speech. But a massive pro-Israel campaign, backed by millions of dollars, partners with U.S. state governments to violate the constitution, and where is the outrage? Where are the First Amendment zealots? Where are all of the liberal Zionist Jews who claim to value the free and open expression of ideas?
In a similar moment of disproportionality, many recent articles have accused the mostly-POC Creating Change demonstrators of being “violent.” I understand why the protest “felt” violent. A lot of people were squished into a very narrow hallway. It was a crowd-control nightmare. People who wished to attend the reception had to squeeze through the protest. Honestly, squeezing through any group of people that dense would have been uncomfortable, and if they all passionately oppose your politics and want to shut down your event, it would be exponentially so. But is this violence, let alone anti-Semitic violence?
To my knowledge, the only person at the event who was injured by violence was a young Black woman protester who was hit by a reception attendee, and had to go to the hospital. Furthermore, when the venue called the police to break up the protest, they were subjecting a crowd of young people of color to the violence of arrest and incarceration in a city where police brutality runs rampant. Chicago, after all, is the city that covered up the police murder of Laquan McDonald and still hasn’t prosecuted the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd. This is not even to mention the regular police harassment of trans people of color that happens throughout the United States. So when you call the police on a group of queer and trans people of color, you are subjecting them to the very real prospect of violence and death. This is a far cry from the perceived violence of an angry crowd in a small space, at a conference where protests like this are so commonplace they’ve become practically routine.

So, did anything anti-semitic happen?

Oh yeah, totally.
In one video, which I only saw after days of searching for something like this, a protester tells a Jewish reception attendee, “I’m gonna sue you. You’re probably rich.”
I know that a lot of my non-Jewish friends will read this and be like, “WHATEVER.” They will point out the obvious, which is the extreme disproportionality between supporting an apartheid state and presuming that someone is wealthy. How could I possibly compare a brutal occupation to a stereotype that Jews have money? Well, I’m not comparing these things at all. I’m just acknowledging that they both exist, and they are both insidious, sinister and lead to suffering.
As April Rosenblum points out in her insightful 2007 pamphlet, “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Anti-Semitism Part of All of Our Movements,” anti-Semitism is tangibly different from other oppressions. Anti-Semitism doesn’t necessarily function by keeping Jews poor and without resources — in fact, it actually requires that some Jews are visibly successful, so that the ruling class can use them as a convincing scapegoat during times of mass frustration with the status quo. Some of the worst moments of anti-Semitic violence, like the Holocaust and the Inquisition, occurred after sustained periods of abundance for Jews with access. So when non-Jews raise the stereotype that all Jews are rich — especially in moments of conflict — it turns the speaker into a pawn of the anti-Semitic cycle.
But because most radical movements perceive oppression through a material analysis of who lacks resources and opportunities, this form of oppression remains largely invisible. As Rosenblum writes, “The Left mistakenly writes current-day Jewish oppression off as fake or minor because it’s not based on poverty, skin color or colonized status.”
[pullquote align=right] A truly radical movement should care about all oppressions, in tandem with each other, because all forms of liberation are, by definition, linked.
[/pullquote]So is this one protester’s one remark my biggest concern in the world? Is it as bad as supporting the injustice of Zionism? Is it as bad as pinkwashing Israel’s crimes? Is it as bad hitting a Black woman or calling the police on a crowd of queer and trans POC protesters? I think questions like this accomplish very little. A truly radical movement should care about all oppressions, in tandem with each other, because all forms of liberation are, by definition, linked. And what matters in the context of this demonstration is that the legitimate grievances of anti-Zionism not be obscured by a legitimate critique of anti-Semitism. The two things are not mutually exclusive. They must not be mutually exclusive.

The Idea Mekhitza*

So why is everything such a mess right now? Why can’t those of us on opposite sides of this controversy see each other? Why aren’t we equipped to understand each other’s experiences?
It’s partially because the radical Left doesn’t know how to recognize or respond to anti-Semitism when it does appear. And this is not just because of anti-Semitism’s uniqueness, or the way it doesn’t fit easily into traditional frameworks for imagining oppression. It’s also because we have grown so accustomed to anti-Semitism as a false accusation. Honestly, I hear far more false accusations of anti-Semitism than I do legitimate ones. It turns into a familiar dance, and it’s easy to go through the motions. I know that I have to fight internally, just to muster up the synapses to recognize real anti-Semitism. And that is because I am so used to debunking the ongoing cavalcade of scurrilous charges that so many Zionists issue whenever they feel uncomfortable or challenged.
But even as the radical Left has difficulty grappling with real anti-Semitism, the mainstream American Zionist world has an even harder time understanding the existence of an anti-Zionist movement in the first place. And this is largely because anti-Zionist Jews have been effectively blacklisted from the mainstream Jewish world, through official institutional bans as well as informal shunning in families and social groups. With anti-Zionist Jews so ostracized, we are less capable of engaging with other Jews and explaining our movements, our allies and our perspectives. Without anti-Zionist Jews present and able to translate the ins and outs of the Palestine solidarity movement, Zionist Jews will become increasingly dysfunctional and over-reactive, which doesn’t benefit anybody. They will look at critique and see a pogrom. They will encounter a crowd of Black and brown protesters and call the cops. They will walk around in a constant state of panic and paranoia.
But the truth is actually not that scary! Let us into the building so we can tell you that!
As the Palestinian solidarity movement grows — and it is growing faster every day — demonstrations like the one at Creating Change will become more and more common, critiques of Zionism will become more and more visible, and those who believe in a Jewish state will increasingly have to defend their positions to a world majority that is outraged by Israeli apartheid.
The easy answer for Zionists — on the left and right alike — is to continue to scream “anti-Semitism” at anything that makes them uncomfortable, to continue to shun anti-Zionist Jews, and to go on indulging in a fantasy of perpetual, righteous victimhood.
The easy answer for the Palestine solidarity movement is to continue to use the power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians as an excuse to ignore the very real threat of anti-Semitism against Jews worldwide, and to continue to plunge forward with discourse and actions that sidestep anti-Jewish oppression rather than dealing with it head-on.
And so the bigger question isn’t whether any given action was or wasn’t driven by anti-Semitism — it’s whether we as Jews can overcome our collective trauma enough to see the difference, and whether we in the Palestine solidarity movement can manifest a commitment to Jewish liberation that is inherently linked to a free Palestine.



 

 
 

  • A “mekhitza” is a traditional Jewish barrier that divides men from women, so they cannot see each other during religious services.

25 thoughts on “Trauma Club: Unpacking The Disconnect Between Liberal Zionism and the Anti-Zionist Movement

  1. It’s fair for a community to have a particular style of protest that makes sense internally. But that community shouldn’t be surprised or feign outrage when it turns out (predictably) that what it wanted to communicate isn’t what was heard.
    Bridging that gap? That’s what effective movements do. As the mass outpouring of press stating that the demonstration was violent and anti-semitic show, the community protesting AWB wasn’t very skilled at getting their message heard. Perhaps if they were listening better to those who understand media, politics, and the workings of the Jewish community, they would have engaged in different tactics.
    That you even had to write this blog post is an indictment of the protest and it’s organizers.

  2. You have written much here that is true, and I want to start with an appreciation of the time and effort you have devoted here in trying to bridge a gap between groups of people whom you clearly love.
    And yet. In my professional life, I once had to explain the category of “1948 Palestinian refugees” in a report to a man who had been a refugee from Pakistan in that year. He was stunned. He said that as a baby, he was a refugee from Pakistan, but a year later, he was a citizen of India, and so his younger family members were never refugees. There were millions upon millions of refugees from dozens of places in the world in the 1940s. To me, the focus of left-wing activists on the justice of the claims against Israel of Palestinian refugees from the Nakba seems bizarre and possibly anti-Semitic in that context. As someone trying to thoughtfully and courteously explain anti-Zionist activism, how do you answer this?

    1. The right of return of refugees is guaranteed by the United Nations, and the Palestinian people’s insistence on being granted their rights is inspiring to me, and not some evidence of anti-Jewish bias. (Especially since conditions for so many refugees and their families are still so dire.) Additionally, many – arguably most – of the areas from which Palestinians were expelled are not currently occupied by Israelis – they are occupied by Jewish National Fund forests, which were specifically planted to erase the history of Palestinian presence there. So the return of refugees, through a reasonable combination of resettlement and reparations, is doable. The main reason the Israeli state opposes right of return is that it threatens a Jewish demographic majority. And my view is that the maintenance of any ethnographic majority is unjust and will result in suffering.

  3. What you are essentially saying, though, is that ANY movement associated with Israel, whether or not it supports the government’s policies, is, therefore, a vehicle of Israeli aggression. In other words, if Israelis are involved in something, they must, as individuals, be ostracized. That’s not that much different than saying that, because I am Jewish, I am responsible for Israeli government policies.
    Second, I agree that the concept of anti-Zionism is not, per se anti-Semitic. But it’s also very ahistorical. Zionism arose in a period of intense anti-Semitism throughout the western world. Moreover, this was also a time when the concept of self-determination, ie, the idea that individual peoples had a right to their own state, was coming to the forefront. That was the basis for the dismantlement of the various empires after WW I. Then, of course, you had the Holocaust, when the rest of the world, if not actively participating, refused to help the Jews. Comparing Zionism to apartheid in South Africa simply ignores the different history. I’m not whitewashing the rather dark history of how Zionism operated in Palestine, but without understanding this history, it’s rather absurd to discuss Zionism as simply privileging one religion over another. Zionism is a reaction to anti-Semitism.
    The point is, for leftists to condemn any participation by Israelis in any movement simply because they are Israelis is really not that much different than being anti-Semitic, even though I acknowledge that most don’t harbor anti-Jewish feelings.

    1. I wouldn’t protest or boycott “all Israelis,” and neither does the official call for BDS. Cultural BDS, for instance, would not boycott a traveling Israeli dance company unless they are traveling with funds from the Israeli state, thus becoming official representatives of Israel. There is a meaningful difference. Similarly, A Wider Bridge, which isn’t even an Israeli org, has a mission to “promote” Israel. I think the distinction is clear.

  4. I do think this is a very good article and deserves a close reading. Some of Fishback’s points are especially important, such as the contrast he draws between the vociferous liberal defenses of « free speech » when it comes to those who want to smash BDS and Palestine solidarity work but not the movements they are targetting; or the really crucial observation that the false cries of « anti-Semitism » we hear all the time so outnumber real instances that we (on the left pro-Palestine, LGBT side) become cynical about it and don’t develop strong analyses and strategies around the real thing where it persists.
    That said, I also think the article has gaps and could be stronger. One is the lack of historical perspective: Fishback seems to have just realized that ethno-nationalism (with its attendant racisms, exclusions and discrimination) is a problem everywhere and THE problem that taints Zionism. His analysis would benefit from learning about the fraught history of Zionism and those Jews (like Buber and Ahad Na’am and Arendt) who fought for a more pluralist, inclusive, truly democratic Israel but lost to the ethno-nationalist vision of Ben Gurion, Meir, and their succesors. There’s a whole long history here that didn’t start a decade ago or even in 1967. Which relates to another gap in Fishback’s piece – he never mentions the Nakba or the contamination in Israel’s very founding. I’m sure he’d agree with all this, but just want to point it out.
    One other thing – he speaks continually of « anti-Zionists » as if this is an acknowledged identity and politics. Yet even JVP as a national organization deliberately avoids this term, and we as a chapter follow suit. I don’t see people readily leaping to the label of « anti-Zionist », as opposed to the more nuanced position of arguing that critiques of Israel and of Zionism are not the same as anti-Semitism (of course they’re not), the difference between Judaism and Jewishness, etc. So, perhaps inadvertently, this article may be calling us to have this conversation. Are we ready to claim the identity « anti-Zionist » and to do so publicly, proudly, and backed by strong historical and empirical reasons?

    1. I’m unclear what including an intellectual history of Zionism would do to augment the analysis here. As someone who does study this history and these paths that weren’t taken, I’m unsure what they have to offer to us here and now. While a nuanced view of the ideological diversity of Zionism is interesting in itself, left Zionism runs up against the same walls as rightist Zionism, including its Eurocentrism. Buber held up the Kibbutz as the Uptopia that had succeeded, and had little to say about the racism of socialist/Labor Zionism’s racism towards the Mizrahim. Arendt had no problem likening Mizrahim to as “brutal” and a “half-Asiatic”, mob who couldn’t hope to meet the heights of “the best of German Jewry. Below them, the prosecuting attorneys, Galicians, but still Europeans.”
      It’s important to point out that the left Zionists who were deeply committed to liberal ideals were chased out of the movement (Judah Magnes for instance, returned to the US after facing death threats) and later said that if occupation was the cost of a Jewish state, if Jewish moral tradition had to be sacrificed for the Jewish state, then it was not worth the cost.
      I guess my question is what does Bubers’, etc, political analysis of Zionism have to offer us now, if they couldn’t deal with, or sometimes even acknowledge, the problems Zionism produced during their lifetimes? An honest question, I really am unclear here, even if I wholeheartedly agree they offered the world valuable philosophical frameworks for a general approach to modern life.

  5. A Wider Bridge does not have a mission to promote Israel, but rather connections between Israeli and American LGBTQ activists for the purpose of building networks, sharing strategies, and moving forward LBGTQ rights in Israel–for Jews, Palestinians, Druze, Bedouins, Samaritans, etc.
    The speakers from Jerusalem Open House were there to talk about how the community dealt with the trauma of a stabbing at the Jerusalem Pride Parade, which is hardly a shining example of “pinkwashing” Israel as a tolerant LGBTQ Mecca.
    It’s possible to be against the occupation and still understand that the situation is nuanced (for example, Israel can’t unilaterally make peace and declare a Palestinian state). It’s possible to be philosophically opposed to ethno-nationalism but recognize the need for a Jewish state given the particularities of Jewish oppression in the Diaspora (maybe we should just call Israel a Jewish safe-space on 0.000035% of the world’s land to make it more palatable to progressives). Israel is not perfect but I think has done better than most nations would under 65+ years of existential threat (long before the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza).
    BDS calls for the end of Israel. Anybody who thinks that one state will turn out well is either naive or willfully ignorant; it will be a recipe for ethnic cleansing, and if Jews have learned anything, it’s that nobody will care about Jewish deaths or Jewish refugees–and they certainly wouldn’t care enough 50 years later to interrupt Palestinian Queers at a future Creating Change conference.

  6. To boycott individuals (gays or not gays) because of actions of their state is the definition of fascism. And since the US is a far, far greater criminal state then Zionist Israel (both historically and presently) — then why not boycott you too as a straight American gay? In fact, it is unclear why exactly you don’t you boycott yourself as a privileged white American Jew who lives on the basis of genocide of Native Americans? Doesn’t America try to pretend that it is a liberal state? This text aims to be progressive while in actual terms it is so confused that it ends up being …racist (and possibly anti-Semitic. And yes, Semites can be ant-Semities exacly as gays can be racists).

  7. “It’s partially because the radical Left doesn’t know how to recognize or respond to anti-Semitism when it does appear. And this is not just because of anti-Semitism’s uniqueness, or the way it doesn’t fit easily into traditional frameworks for imagining oppression. It’s also because we have grown so accustomed to anti-Semitism as a false accusation. ”
    Interesting replace homophobia with anti-Semitism and tell me if you would accept that excuse from a self proclaimed progressive. Don’t blame others for your own short comings, this has nothing to with Jewish trauma, talk about blaming the victim!!!! This article is nothing but an excuse for your friends mob mentality and their own intolerance and hypocrisy.
    Even your claim about anti-Zionist Jews being blacklisted from the mainstream is nonsense. You claim to be a New York playwright I’m assuming you have heard of Tony Kushner, he has spoken at the 92nd St Y is that mainstream enough for you? Face it the only ones engaging in blacklisting are you and cadre of brownshirts who would prefer to shout down voices you disagree with rather than engage in dialogue.

  8. I read this powerful article and then read a new report of the Israeli seizure of more land in Palestine. power of American Zionists – regardless of their religion.
    http://www.palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=2xb8j0a12279ylcrdch1xm
    As an American, I find it painful that America is financing this continued injustice, and that there isn’t a stronger voice against it to counteract pro-Zionist political power in the US. The Palestinians and other Arabs are being forced to accept Israel’s “right to exist” but why does Israel have a “right to exist”? I agree with the author that “there is something fundamentally wrong with any state that privileges one ethno-religious group over another.” We must all voice our outrage and not allow the white-washing, pink-washing, and other brain-washing that supports this injustice.

  9. This article is alarming and tragic on many levels. Our sages say that in this time before our redemption that the Jewish people will , G-d forbid, sink to the 50th gate of impurity. What could be worse than a Jewish man (is he halachically Jewish?) who advocates for homosexuality, which is the destruction of the human soul; the “rights” of the utterly false and evil claim of the jihadis known as “palestinians” whose entire identity is a ruse to destroy Israel; and who is so twisted to think that the Jewish people are not the indigenous people of the area with far reaching claims entirely out-dating the Islamic conquest of the 7th century.
    How tragic and alarming indeed. What will it take for Jews such as this man to begin to see past the thick mire of perception? Sadly, he would probably dismiss views like mine. Homosexuality and Arab Islamic conquest o indigenous peoples are not Jewish values. There are Jewish groups like JONAH who help people heal their unnatural drives. Hopefully one day soon this Jewish man will awaken and do teshuvah as we all must do.

  10. “From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free.” Free of what, exactly? Free of Jews who wish to have a haven free from such genocidal threats? Free from returning to the status of a subjugated minority under the divinely sanction apartheid of Dhimmitude [http://www.dhimmitude.org/archive/by_lecture_10oct2002.html]?
    Free of Jews who assert their unalienable right to self-identification and self-determination in 1/6th of 1% of the Arab world. That is, coincidentally, the very place where that identity arose 3,500 years ago; and with which, that self-identification, is inextricably bound?
    “From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free. From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free. From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free.. . .” If you do not hear the racist hatred in the mob chanting “From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free. From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free. From the River to the Sea; Palestine will be Free.. . .” If you don’t see the brown-shirt thuggishness of the heckler’s veto that succeeded in preventing an opinion, not approved by the “right-thinking” from having any voice – then you have deliberately made yourself both blind and deaf. Three hundred pages of tendentious equivocation, glittering generalities, cherry picked evidence and petitio principii declarations of “oppression” assigned to Israel alone (because in the soft bigotry of low expectations Arabs have no agency) notwithstanding.

  11. The writer of this article goes through a long explanation to justify anti semitism and homophobia. The reality is he and his fellow fascist travelers like the racist membership of Jewish Voice for Peace are working toward eliminating Israel entirely to be replaced by another Judenrein Arab country where gays are persecuted and executed. Cloaking this hate as “progressive” or “liberal” is truly mendacious and sick.

  12. I’m not a fan of ethnic states per se, but Israel is both a national homeland and a refuge, and has at least as much intrinsic justification as any other state in the UN. The author’s sophomoric question of whether “any states have the right to exist” is embarrassing and has no place in a serious discussion of human rights.
    Furthermore, I was dismayed to read the author’s mocking claim that Jews “are afraid that, without state power, the Jews of Israel will be slaughtered. ” Well, of course they would be. Every minority group in the Middle East is vulnerable, but Jews are *especially* vulnerable because they are neither Arab nor Muslim. There are essentially no Jews in the Middle East outside Israel. They were all slaughtered, or fled. Surely this consideration must be front and center of any discussion about Israel’s role. The author’s lack of compassion for other Jews means that his entire argument is morally hollow.

    1. Absolutely right, on both points. I’m always wary to draw the persecution card, but the fact remains. I’d like to see Dan Fishback’s evidence that Jews have ever NOT been hated, persecuted, had apartheid laws imposed on them, looted, killed, religiously suppressed, etc, throughout history and geographic space. It doesn’t justify the current treatment of Palestinians, but there is a very legitimate argument for a Jewish homeland, and very legitimate argument as to way Jewish life in general would be put at risk without one.

  13. As a proud, self-hating Jew, I’m so glad to have found this fringe, far-left, antizionist, anti-israel publication.
    I can’t wait to post this story on my FB page. It will get tons of laughs from my friends.

  14. I have yet to see one person cry antisemitism as a tactic. You might disagree with them, but they really see antisemitism.
    I don’t accept your definition of Zionism. It doesn’t have to mean a Jewish supremacist state.

  15. The short answer? Why yes it is.
    As a Jew with a similar background to yours, in fact as someone who has always felt conflicted about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians, and as someone who carefully read your article with consideration and an open mind, I have to say, I’m STILL NOT BUYING IT. If everyday Palestinians and Jewish Israelis can meet to dialogue and discuss peace, why on earth can’t a bunch of Americans (whose focus is on an entirely different issue, btw) be big enough as humans to do the same?
    This is the same attitude inherent in PC culture that as far as I’m concerned, only serves to further racism and lack of understanding between people. When we quash dialogue, when we simply wish to silence those we disagree with, where is the room for progress? Hatred is broken down through communication and human connection. It’s a lot harder to hate an entire group of people once you know some of them as whole, complete human beings. And even if you continue to disagree with another person’s point of view, at least you can not hate them, and maybe even understand why they hold their views. The current zeitgeist is equivalent to sticking one’s fingers in their ears, closing their eyes and shouting “LALALA!” as far as I’m concerned. Juvenile and counterproductive, and will probably only accomplish pissing the other person off, further deepening misunderstanding and hatred.
    Sanctions have never worked, and I remember a time not so long ago when that was consider a liberal point of view. How the hell did everything become so inverted? Why did these “liberal” “peace loving” activists shout down and shut out a group of citizens who represented the same ideals they did, when it came to LGBTQ issues? Those folks, sir, were there because, like every other human being there, they cared about the issues being discussed.
    I haven’t done my homework on A Wider Bridge, but I’m willing to bet that they do not support Likud, the Tea Party, Messianic Christians or ultra-Orthodox, gun-toting “settlers.” I’m also willing to bet that those folks don’t think much of them, or any LGBTQ folks, for that matter. Imagine their delight at hearing how all these “sinners” turned on each other. Hey, divide and conquer, right? Are you even aware (I’m sure the idiots at the event weren’t aware) that there is currently a conservative bill in Israeli parliament to ban or highly restrict non-profit organizations within Israel? A Wider Bridge, contrary to your assertion, is not inherently supporting the glorification of Israeli apartheid policies through their very existence. They face hatred, attacks and discrimination from the same people who support, legislate and enforce the repressive policies everyone is so angry about.
    People of sound mind and good conscience are in the same fight all over the world right now against the forces of extremism, exceptionalism, ignorance and hatred. Why the people at this event, and why you yourself, wouldn’t see that, wouldn’t jump at the chance to engage in dialogue with like-minded people who love their country but disagree with their government’s and some citizens’ actions, is truly beyond me. Silence breeds lack of understanding, which breeds ignorance, which breeds hate and sweeping generalizations. Like the one you discuss in your article.
    Adding insult to injury, the rising tide of anti-Semitism in far left activism alienates a lot of good hearted Americans, Jew and gentile alike, who would otherwise be all for the cause. I live in Seattle, where a Black Lives Matter protest outside a pot shop ended in protesting the fact that the owner had served in the Israeli military. The man’s business practices and role in gentrifying our city are dubious at best, but he has lived his entire damn life in Seattle. The reason for the accusation? He’s Jewish. Why on earth would I ever want to attend an Occupy, BLM, and now apparently, LGBTQ event, where I have legitimate concerns that I would feel unwelcome and uncomfortable? I’m seething as I write this, because being made to feel unwelcome and uncomfortable is so inherently antithetical to what social justice and civil rights movements should be about.
    I lived in South America in the early 2000s–not a time of great popularity for the United States, to say the least. I heard well-educated, left-leaning friends talk about how while 9/11 was of course sad, people couldn’t help but feel it was poetic justice for our policies. I was questioned about the Iraq War and the Bush administration as thought I were personally responsible for them. Do you know what it feels like to be questioned about something you fervently disagree with, by people who are looking at you and talking to you as though you’re behind it, simply because they are too black-and-white in their thinking to understand that you don’t necessarily represent your own government, or other citizens who have different political viewpoints? And at least people would talk to me and question me–not like these folks who were simply shouted down and pushed away like so much human garbage. Awful.
    I also lived in a hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn where anti-Semetic jokes were tossed around like candy. But it was ok, because “we all went to liberal arts private schools with Jews–some of my best friends are Jewish!” The combination of underlying animosity, little jokes that are constant enough and play on ugly stereotypes enough that they really aren’t funny, and people excusing it all away because “we’re the good guys,” during times of extreme discord and upheaval, is how you end up with an explosive s*** show like what happened at this event.
    Supporting Palestinians is not anti-Semitic. I’m perfectly comfortable in my own Jewish identity and I ALSO support the rights of Palestinians and a two state solution (yes I said it, two states). The displacement and persecution of one group does not justify the displacement and persecution of another; it makes me sick that Palestinians have been made refugees in the name of Jewish refuge. And it goes against the most basic of Judaic principles, furthermore.
    Yet so often, pro-Palestinian rhetoric from the far left becomes conflated with anti-Semitism. And Jews, and everyday Israeli citizens, become confused for Israeli government policy and the actions of hardline Republicans and religious extremists. The people expounding these views are either too obtuse to understand these nuances, and eager to jump on the same bandwagon as their peers, or intelligent enough to understand these nuances, but jumping at a chance to voice their already-existing hatred.
    On a personal note, I respect your views and your intelligence. But I just don’t see how you can view an angry mob shouting at a group of Jews, because they are Israeli, as completely without merit from a sociological, anti-Semitism perspective. Be any kind of Jew you want, have any kind of view of Israel you want, but let’s call hate what the F it is when we see it. Just call it out: what happened at that event was anti-Semitism, pure and simple. I’m so tired of left-wing Jewish Americans being afraid to expose this crap for what it is.

  16. There is an intersectionality between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. This is a comment by a member of the Oxford Student Labor Party Club: ” it was ‘not anti-Semitic’ to allege the existence of a ‘New York – Tel Aviv axis’ that rigs elections, and said that ‘we should be aware of the influence wielded over elections by high net-worth Jewish individuals’.” Another member said that all Jews should have to declare their opposition to Zionism and the state of Israel. These are both English examples, but they exist on the left everywhere. There is another English example where a supermarket took all Kosher goods off the shelf not just Israeli goods.

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