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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



Is there a “progressive” Zionism?


Zionist, Yes; Progressive, Maybe

Jeremiah Harer, 1st December 2010

I have never accepted the view that “progressive Zionist” is an oxymoron (well, there goes half of my readership). For one thing, “progressive” or “liberal” (synonymous, for the purpose of this post) Zionists are generally progressive on other issues besides Israel. They may not be Noam Chomsky progressives or Ralph Nader progressives, but they are at least Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow progressives, and I am feeling expansive today. If they are even the least tad irked at Pres. Obama for Afghanistan or Guantanamo, that’s good enough for me. Also, progressive Zionists oppose the Occupation and the settlements. While their memories of settlements only go back to 1967, they are still to be preferred to the “chauvinist center” represented by Likud, Kadima (a weaker version of Likud), and Labor (a weak version of Kadima)But when push comes to shove, many progressive Zionists I know will let their Zionism trump their progressiveness. As one pointed out to me, the State of Israel is the bedrock of their Jewish identity. So while they can conceive a tactical compromise on their progressive values, they cannot countenance any move by any third party that will have the slightest negative effect on Israel (such as the pain felt when a prominent pop singer cancels her appearance in Tel Aviv). They will support military aid to Israel but will oppose Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, even though such military aid supports the Occupation, whereas the BDS movement is directly directed against the Occupation. They will sit in an Israel forum with people that advocate policies that have already destroyed the possibility of a two-state solution (like the Zionist Organization of America – the group that has done more harm to the interests of the State of Israel than a hundred Ahmadinejads). They will disagree strongly with that group and argue vociferously against it.

But why will they sit in coalitions with the likes of ZOA, but not with the likes of JVP? It cannot be because the ZOA is less harmful to Israel’s true interests than, say, JVP. After all, ZOA supports Israel the way it is now, a “hafradah state” (as a Hebraist and a Zionist, I resent the use of a loan-word, Apartheid, when a perfectly good – and more accurate — Hebrew word will do.) So what the progressive Zionist groups are saying is that although they oppose a hafradah state, which is very much the reality today, they will not sit with groups that support self-determination of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, but have no official position on the political framework of that self-determination. And they will never sit with other groups that wish to End the Occupation who are not Jewish.

Of course, it is the right of any group not to join coalitions. It will say, “We support things that we can support, and on our terms. Fine – as I reported earlier, both JVP and J Street protested the Hebrew Fund annual dinner (Ameinu wasn’t there, as far as I know). It was not a joint protest.

But my point is that groups like J Street and Ameinu have to be open to new bedfellows when it comes to the struggle to end the Occupation, and at the very least, they have to support those groups, especially the Jewish ones, from deligitimation in the Jewish street.

Kenneth Bob, the President of Ameinu, thinks that JVP is beyond the pale (or cannot be taken seriously in Jewish communal discourse) because of some of their positions. He is entitled to that view, of course. I know people who say that Ameinu can’t be taken seriously in Jewish communal discourse because of its criticisms of Israel’s actions in the Gaza flotilla and the siege of Gaza. But rather than play the delegitimation game – which ZOA is a master of – wouldn’t it be better to affirm unequivocally, once and for all, that JVP is as legitimate a player on Israel as is ZOA? What is worse – calling for the US government to end its military aid to Israel, a call that is obviously symbolic in the present climate, or giving verbal support to the two-state idea while not allowing the US to employ *any* sticks in pursuit of that goal. The “call” may allow Zionist progressives to sleep more soundly at night (some people write blogs for that purpose). But if Ameinu is serious about the call, it should be view JVP as an ally in the struggle, albeit one whose positions and tactics are not always kosher in Ameinu’s eyes.

In Israel, progressive Zionist parties have been consistent in their defense of the rights of Arab non-Zionist parties. Is it too much to ask from progressive Zionists in the US to emulate their Israeli brothers and sisters and, at the very least, not diss JVP in public?

(I would ask that other groups in the End the Occupation coalition be shown similar respect. People sometimes write to me, “Jerry, you have gone on record as supporting a selective version of BDS (so does J Street, by the way; they don’t call it BDS, though; I do). Aren’t you worried about the motives of some of the groups who are in that coalition? “My answer to them is I am generally not. The point of a coalition is that groups and individuals get together for a common goal, despite their differences. Of course, I have my red lines; I wouldn’t join a coalition with Neo-Nazis Against the Occupation.

But Palestinian groups are different. It’s about time that progressive Zionists make their choice of coalitions, exchange one set of “strange bedfellows” for another, and get serious about salvaging the two-state solution, if it can indeed be salvaged.

Don’t diss them.

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