Carly Pildis, identified as a political organizer and advocacy professional, argued that anti-Zionism violates the Jewish right to self-determination and has no place in progressive politics, in an essay published on Sunday in Tablet Magazine.
The problem with anti-Zionism is that it “ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people.” Those who engage in anti-Zionism deny Jews the same equality that progressives champion for other “historically oppressed people.”
Identification of Jews with Zionism, Pildis wrote, is strong. Polls show that over four-fifths of American Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 view “caring about Israel” to be an important part of being Jewish.
“The demand that Jews discard a key element of our liberation, culture, and identity to join a social justice movement is anything but progressive,” Pildis argued. “It is a radical silencing and rejection of core parts of our history and identity as an oppressed people.”
But she also argued that being pro-Israel doesn’t mean supporting every Israeli policy, “including those that impact Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.” Such criticism “is not in and of itself anti-Semitic.” In fact, “debates over specific Israeli policies, and fierce criticism of the Netanyahu government” should be welcomed on campus.
However, “the notion that Jewish self-determination is a form of racism is purely anti-Semitic,” Pildis wrote. She also criticized “academic rhetoric,” that calls for “ethnic cleansing, terrorism, forced relocation, and the dismantling of the Jewish state.”
For Jewish students on campus Pildis warned that “anti-Zionism seeks to intimidate you and silence you.” She suggested resources for students to use for support, when they feel marginalized including “Hillel, Chabad, a local synagogue, or a simple gathering of friends.”
Although “progressives can and should debate Israeli government policies, and American government policies,” they “must not impose litmus tests for Jews or disregard the historical Jewish experience of marginalization, oppression, and mass murder—and they must acknowledge Jewish self-determination in our indigenous homeland as a human right.”
In a similar vein, Josh Block, the president and CEO of The Israel Project recently told the Beth Am Congregation in Los Altos Hills, California, that “progressive ideals have been hijacked by anti-Semites.”
[Photo: Student Supporting Israel (SSI) / YouTube ]