Pluralism in the Zionist Movement Threatened by Far Right Ideological Tests
We are writing as leaders of American Zionist organizations to commend the Center for Jewish History’s decision to hire Professor David Myers as your new CEO and President. We recognize that a small group of activists is pressing you to rescind your offer to Professor Myers and we strongly urge you to reject this campaign.
As Zionists, all of our organizations focus on promoting Israel as a secure, Jewish and democratic state that lives at peace with its neighbors and is fully integrated into the global community. This has been the essential mission of our movement for 120 years — a cause for celebration during the year of Zionist anniversaries.
Informing our agendas are the essential documents of Zionist history. From the Jerusalem Program of the World Zionist Organization we are compelled to “[shape Israel] as an exemplary society with unique moral and spiritual character….rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.” And the Israeli Declaration of Independence inspires us with a vision of Israel that “extend[s] its hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness…with the sovereign Jewish people. Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”
We know that there is an array of perspectives on how to fulfill the goals of Zionism, and do not necessarily agree with every sentence that Professor Myers has ever written or activity he has undertaken. But this natural diversity within a pluralistic Jewish and Zionist community does not negate Professor Myers’ stellar credentials for the position of CEO and President of the Center for Jewish History.
As Professors Jonathan Sarna and David Ellenson wrote in the Forward on September 6, “[Professor Myers] is surely among the foremost scholars of Modern Jewish History in our generation, and he is highly respected in academic circles worldwide…No one is more qualified than the charismatic and learned Myers to lead…and bring the activities of the Center for Jewish History to a higher level.” They conclude, “The writings of David Myers indisputably fall well within the scholarly mainstream of Jewish life and they are unquestionably supportive of Israel’s basic right to exist.”
Thus, we join together to urge that Professor David Myers be evaluated purely on the quality of his scholarship and leadership abilities, and not on the basis of divisive and unsubstantiated accusations of an anti-Israel or anti-Zionist bias. We believe maintaining your decision would be in the best interest of the Center for Jewish History, as well as unity and civility of dialogue in the American and Israeli Jewish communities.
Kenneth Bob, President and Gideon Aronoff, CEO, Ameinu (Our People)
Rabbi John Rosove, Board Chair and Rabbi Joshua Weinberg, President
Association of Reform Zionists of America
Eitan Goldstein, Mazkir Klalit, Habonim Dror North America
Alexis Karpf, Mazkira, Hashomer Hatzair
Nancy Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women
Paul Scham, Co-President, Partners for Progressive Israel
Simon Klarfeld, Executive Director, Young Judaea