Progressive Zionism in the Age of Trump-Bibi Bromance
A few weeks ago I was representing Ameinu at a national Zionist conference when a right wing delegate began badgering three panel members who happened to be young liberal women, questioning their pro-Israel bonafides. I protested this unacceptable behavior and in the resulting verbal confrontation, the right winger claimed that I have “a secret agenda to destroy Israel.” Incredulous, I replied “what??” and he said, yes, you have “infiltrated Jewish organizations to carry out your plan.” This was not the first time Ameinu members have been confronted with this type of lie as we raise the flag of progressive Zionism in Jewish public spaces.
I have friends who ask me, “Why do you bother? Why not stick to safer settings on your liberal Zionist home turf?”
That is not how we operate here at Ameinu. We do not remain in our own political bubble. Rather, we engage with the community around us– and that includes the right, those farther to the left and our own progressive Zionist family.
Here is how that translates into action:
- We co-sponsored a letter earlier this year that called on the Israeli Election Commission to reject racist Otzma Yehudit’s reemergence on the political scene. Thousands of you joined in this call to action. While the party was allowed to join the United Right List, their leader was ruled ineligible to run due to declarations which were “beyond the pale”.
- Speaking recently at Wesleyan University with both progressive Zionist and anti-Zionist students in attendance, I led a civil discussion based upon Zionist texts from Theodore Herzl, through A.D. Gordon and up to MK Stav Shaffir. It was deep engagement for the purpose of learning; not yelling and name calling.
- Our academic affiliate, Alliance for Academic Freedom, continues to get involved wherever academic boycotts of Israel and Israelis are proposed. Most recently this included Pitzer College and the University of Cape Town; there will no doubt be others in the future.
- Last year we established Project Rozana USA, which builds bridges of understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through healthcare. We conducted two speaking tours with Israeli and Palestinian doctors, raising funds to expand treatment of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals and build healthcare capacity on the West Bank and in Gaza.
- We continue to send young American Jews 18-30 to enlightening and challenging Israel experiences, on traditional kibbutzim as well as a new program, in cooperation with the Urban Kibbutz movement, focused on social justice activism.
- Last year Ameinu launched an unprecedented initiative to engage with liberal young Israelis living in the United States. Central to this effort is supporting Connect IL, which has convened in New York for educational and social events. In addition, they produced a video, viewed over 70,000 times, to encourage Israelis to travel home to vote in the recent elections, thus strengthening progressive voices in Israel.
In the age of the Trump-Bibi bromance, the right wing has become even more emboldened in their attempts to delegitimize liberal Zionism. In response, we work to reclaim Zionism– in the spirit of our progressive Zionist forerunners.
We know you join us in this commitment and we hope that you will express your support on these issues by renewing your membership in Ameinu by clicking here and paying our dues of $50, $80 or $150.
You can also send a check to: Ameinu, 25 Broadway 9th Floor, New York, NY 10004.
Kenneth Bob, President