Updated: Aug 25, 2019
How Zioness Movement Became Zionless Movement
Zioness Movement was founded in 2017 when Jewish lesbians who wanted to carry a gay pride flag with the Star of David as a symbol of gay/lesbian Jews were barred from participating in the Chicago's Dyke March.
One would expect that such origins should make Zioness Movement, whose manifesto lays claim to Zionist identity, protective of that identity and particularly sensitive to antisemitism emanating from the left (nobody disputes that right-wing extremists and Muslims are the other major sources of antisemitism). And what is wrong with putting one's identify first? Prioritizing one's own identity does not exclude concerns about other groups. Nor would caring first about one's own community that is clearly threatened and needs protection, be unique to the Jews. LGBTQ organizations care about, protect and promote primarily LGBTQ community. Feminist organizations care about, protect and promote primarily women. Black Lives Matter was formed to care about, protect and promote primarily African Americans. The list goes on and on.
But if "black lives matter" rather than "all lives matter" highlights the particular discrimination faced by the African Americans, shouldn't Jews be allowed to have an exclusive House of Representatives resolution condemning the uniqueness of antisemitism specifically without watering it down to become an inconvenient addendum to every other real and imaginary hatred? Apparently this is too much to ask for the Jews.
It is distressing that some members of the Zioness Movement, if not the organization itself, take offense to a suggestion that perhaps they should address Jewish concerns instead of spreading their meager resources on virtue signalling about every other progressive cause first. And it is particularly concerning when an organization that bills itself as Zionist chooses to deny the obvious Holocaust desecration used to score political points by Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman member of the House of Representatives who is closely associated with the antisemitic duo of Tlaib and Omar. The AOC's remarks comparing border detention facilities with "concentration camps" have been denounced by many prominent Jewish organizations such as ADL, Yad Vashem, The US Holocaust Memorial Museum, JCRC of NY, etc. It is ironic that an organization that was formed when Jews were pushed out of a progressive cause (Chicago Dyke March) is willing now to dismiss concerns of many fellow Jews in order to advance a politically progressive initiative.
Unfortunately, Zioness Movement's actions follow a pattern that is not new. This is what has happened to--and destroyed--a number of other, much more established and venerable organizations, such as ADL and HIAS, whose original mission to protect Jews has been replaced by opposition to the current administration and by playing partisan politics under the pretense of "fighting all hate." Add to this ACLU and SPLC, the organizations who were supposed to protect everybody's rights but have become nothing more than highly endowed weaponized donation harvesting tools for the Democratic "resistance."
When I commented on the Zioness Movement's Facebook's post of the Tablet article by Zioness' VP Carly Pildis, that perhaps by brushing aside AOC's despicable remarks and by branding Trump administration as modern day Nazi's, the Zioness Movement was loosing focus on its core mission and was joining the faltered path of the other organizations mentioned above, I was immediately branded as a white supremacist and accused of morally defective Jewish values. It is indeed a strange progressive perception of reality when one is simultaneously perceived as insufficiently Jewish and a neo-Nazi for merely suggesting that for a Zionist organization Jewish concerns should come first.
Not only are Jews a small group but the other groups are not rushing to our defense or to the defense of Israel. Perhaps we should not try to solve everybody's problems, which we are unable to solve anyway, but focus on our own concerns? Given the worldwide rise of antisemitism and Jews being the number one target of hate crimes in the US, is this too much to ask?
Progressive Jews love to quote Rabbi Hillel's saying, "...if I am only for myself, who am I?" They forget that he said first, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" Zioness Movement started as a necessary organization battling for the "soul of the left." It is sad to see some of its members exhibit the same intolerance as those who had made this organization necessary in the first place. By prioritizing progressive values over legitimate concerns of many Jews, Zioness Movement is becoming J Street lite, which, in turn, has been a gateway drug to Jewish Voice for Peace.
Perhaps the greatest contribution that Zioness Movement has made thus far is to debunk two popular misconceptions. First, it has conclusively demonstrated through repeated failures that no matter how progressive some Zionists try to be they are simply not wanted in the progressive circles. And second, it has confirmed that progressives are just as intolerant as those they despise.
I wrote this blog post a month ago at the end of June but did not publishing it until now because I hesitated to publicly criticize a self-proclaimed "Zionist" organization. However, this Facebook post by Brooke Goldstein of The Lawfare Project changed my mind and tipped the scales towards making my thoughts public.