You don’t have to be anti-Zionist to listen to Palestinian voices

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A Palestinian woman at an Israeli checkpoint. (photo: Getty Images)

An essay on “admitting Israel’s imperfections.”

By Matthew Gindin | The Forward | Nov 29, 2017


Harassment and inhumane conduct sometimes practiced by members of the IDF towards Palestinians has been well documented. It should horrify us, and we should make no excuses for it.


On November 27, the Forward published an opinion piece by Palestinian activist and journalist Mariam Barghouti, who asserted that one cannot be both a feminist and a Zionist. Despite the fact that the Forward’s opinion section published, on the same day, an essay promoting the point of view of “Zioness,” a feminist Zionist organization, The Forward’s opinion editor, Batya Ungar-Sargon, was besieged by hate mail from Jewish writers, including a threat to “rape and behead” her, as well as one calling her a “demented scumbag kapo.”

Although I am proud to write for an outlet that is committed to a pluralism of opinions and that publishes Palestinian voices, I don’t agree with Barghouti’s fundamental thesis. I do think one can be a feminist and Zionist, though of course, as many commentators pointed out, it depends on how you define Zionism and how you define feminism. In her essay, Barghouti makes feminism synonymous with general humanism. As she writes, “Fundamentally speaking, feminism cannot support racism, supremacy and oppressive domination in any form.”

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A history lesson on Zionism

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The author responds to criticism of anti-Zionism as being anti-Semitic.

By Robert A. H. Cohen / Patheos / Nov 8, 2017


The crimes against the Palestinians should not have to match the Holocaust before we can express our horror or outrage.


Dear Professor Schama,

I’ve just read your letter to The Times this week about Zionism and antisemitism in the Labour Party, co-signed by your fellow historian Simon Sebag Montefiore and novelist Howard Jacobson. As you’re the senior academic, I’m addressing my concerns to you, although I’m slightly embarrassed at having to offer someone of your reputation a history lesson.

While I’m sympathetic to some of your points over the language and tone of the Israel/Palestine debate in some parts of the British left, overall your letter only adds to the lock down of freedom of speech on Israel by attempting to make criticism of Zionism toxic by association. That doesn’t feel like a good position for you to take as a public intellectual.

Your letter makes questioning either the theory or outcomes of Zionism politically, socially and morally unacceptable. In my view, that does little to help our understanding of Zionism, modern Jewish history, or traditional rabbinic Judaism. And, like others before you, you are muddying the meaning of antisemitism.

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Why young Jews don’t trust what their institutions say about Israel

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American Jews from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence meet with Palestinians in the West Bank. (photo: Gili Getz)

Growing up, the Conservative movement embraced nuanced approaches to the Torah, yet that critical approach never extended to discussions of Israel. Questioning Zionism was verboten.

By Eliana Fishman / +972 Magazine / Sep 14, 2017


No one within the Conservative movement ever discussed the rabbinic texts that oppose the Jewish people’s return to the Land of Israel. Questioning Zionism was verboten. And no one knew, and still, to this day no one knows what the occupation looks like.


It was the summer before eighth grade at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, a Jewish summer camp affiliated with the Conservative Movement. I was 12 years old. Each camper was handed a copy of Mitchell Bard’s Myths and Facts, long considered a foundational hasbara textbook, and we were told that the author would be coming to speak to us.

Most campers ignored the book and didn’t pay much attention to Bard’s presentation. One particularly precocious camper, who actually read through the book, took the time to highlight misleading arguments and logical inconsistencies, and challenged the author during his lecture. Bard made light of the critiques and brushed them aside, insisting that every accusation against Israel was rooted in anti-Semitism, and that there was no way human rights violations had anything to do with Palestinian discontent.

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Crusaders and Zionists

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(image: Christianity Today)

By Uri Avnery / Antiwar.com
September 2, 2017


“When you were writing your book, did you ever think about the similarities between the Crusaders and the modern Zionists?” [the author inquired.]
“Actually, I hardly thought about anything else. I wanted to subtitle the book ‘A Guidebook For the Zionist About How Not To Do It,’ but my Jewish friends advised me to abstain from doing so.”
— British Historian Seven Runciman


A few days ago I found myself in Caesarea, sitting in a restaurant and looking out over the sea. The sunbeams were dancing on the little waves, the mysterious ruins of the ancient town arrayed behind me. It was hot, but not too hot, and I was thinking about the crusaders.

Caesarea was built by King Herod some 2000 years ago and named after his Roman master, Augustus Caesar. It once again became an important town under the Crusaders, who fortified it. These fortifications are what now makes the place a tourist attraction.

For some years in my life I was obsessed with the Crusaders. It started during the 1948 “War of Independence,” when I chanced to read a book about the crusaders and found that they had occupied the same locations opposite the Gaza strip which my battalion was occupying. It took the crusaders several decades to conquer the strip, which at the time extended to Ashkelon. Today it is still there in Muslim hands.

After the war, I read everything I could about these Crusaders. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. So much so, that I did something I have never done before or after: I wrote a letter to the author of the most authoritative book about the period, the British historian Steven Runciman.

To my surprise, I received a handwritten reply by return of post, inviting me to come and see him when I happened to be in London. I happened to be in London a few weeks later and called him up. He insisted I come over immediately.

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The Zionist Tango: Why I Prefer Ayelet Shaked

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, March 2017. (photo: Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left.

By Gideon Levy / Haaretz
Sseptember 3, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the last of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


With [Shaked], what you see is what you get — racism. In its actions and deeds, the Zionist left has done everything to implement Shaked’s views, only in polished words and without acknowledgement. The Zionist left is embarrassed by things Shaked and her colleagues are not ashamed of. That doesn’t make the left any more moral or just. It has merely been quasi-Shaked in its actions.


Ravit Hecht attributes a “fragrance of true love” for my “honest, brave princess,” Justice Minister Shaked, in her op-ed “When Gideon Levy fell in love with Ayelet Shaked.” Hecht knows my taste in women is slightly different than that, and that, despite what she writes, I don’t know how to dance the tango. But my appreciation for Shaked and her ilk is that they do not deceive: they openly acknowledge their nationalism and racism.

They don’t hide their belief that the Palestinians are an inferior people, indigenous inhabitants who will never gain the rights Jews have in the Land of Israel-Palestine; that no Palestinian state will ever be established here; that Israel will ultimately annex all of the occupied territories, as it already has done in practice; that the Jews are the Chosen People; that Zionism is in contradiction to human rights and superior to them; that dispossession is redemption; that biblical property rights are eternal; that there is no Palestinian people and no occupation; and that the current reality will last forever.

Many of these views are also held among the Zionist left, Hecht’s ideological camp. The only difference is that the Zionist left has never admitted it. It envelops its views in the glittering wrapping paper of peace talks, separation and hollow rhetoric about two states, words it has never really meant and has done precious little to realize.

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When Gideon Levy Fell in Love With Ayelet Shaked

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks with fellow Habayit Hayehudi party member Bezalel Smotrich, March 2017. (photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

Gideon Levy prefers hard-line rightists to the left because they tell the truth; that is, they sincerely express dangerous sentiments popular among the people.

By Ravit Hecht / Haaretz
September 1, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the third of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


There are still a few seekers of justice in Israel who believe in the basic Zionist principle of Jews’ right to a national homeland in Israel while deeply abhorring Shaked’s statement. Neither she nor Gideon Levy will make them disappear.


In his piece the other day, Gideon Levy thanked Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for telling the truth; Shaked had said Zionism would no longer bow to the Supreme Court. The minister is thus continuing her incitement campaign against the court, a campaign that is flourishing throughout the right wing.

A fragrance of true love exudes from Levy’s text to his honest, brave princess. His op-ed conveys a message of admiration among radicals who tell it straight on their way to wreaking havoc.

And havoc has been wreaked. What a riot. Apocalypse now. The court is being aggressively worn down, and soon the media will finally be tamed and fall silent. Racism is soaring to new heights with the leadership’s encouragement and corruption runs rampant, with no need for camouflage, for the simple reason that nobody is ashamed anymore.

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Israel’s Minister of Truth

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Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at an Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv, August 29, 2017. (photo: David Bachar)

Israel Justice Minister Shaked said the truth loud and clear: Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and racist movement.

By Gideon Levy / Haaretz
September 1, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the second of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


Shaked prefers Zionism to human rights, the ultimate universal justice. She believes that we have a different kind of justice, superior to universal justice. Zionism above all. . . . Now that Shaked has exposed Zionism  . . . we can finally think about Zionism more freely. We can admit that the Jews’ right to a state contradicted the Palestinians’ right to their land, and that righteous Zionism gave birth to a terrible national wrong that has never been righted.


Thank you, Ayelet Shaked, for telling the truth. Thank you for speaking honestly. The justice minister has proved once again that Israel’s extreme right is better than the deceivers of the center-left: It speaks honestly.

If in 1975, Chaim Herzog dramatically tore up a copy of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, the justice minister has now admitted the truthfulness of the resolution (which was later revoked). Shaked said, loud and clear: Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps even racist movement, as proponents of justice worldwide maintain.

Shaked prefers Zionism to human rights, the ultimate universal justice. She believes that we have a different kind of justice, superior to universal justice. Zionism above all. It’s been said before, in other languages and other nationalist movements.

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