Anti-Zionist Jews are ‘Jews in name only’ and ‘more dangerous than external antisemitic threat’

Chicago Reform rabbi

I try to keep up on official Jewish claims about the oneness of Judaism and Zionism, and here is an important statement on that score from last May that I just saw.

Days after Israel’s war with Gaza sparked unprecedented outrage in the west, Rabbi Wendi Geffen gave a sermon to her Reform congregation in suburban Chicago about the “new antisemitism” in which she said that anti-Zionist Jews are “Jews in name only” who must be kept out of the Jewish “tent.”

There are boundaries to that tent. And those begin when a person engages in word or action that seeks to destroy Israel or the Jewish people. Or enables or condones violence in support of extremist ideology or theology. There is no place for any of that in the big tent.

The rabbi went on to explain that “the vast majority” of Jews support Israel and that anti-Zionist Jews who say that Zionism and progressive values are a contradiction are “more dangerous” to the Jewish people than the rightwing antisemites who shoot up synagogues.

But within the vast majority of those in that tent, we must as individuals and a community reject the assertion that you either care about the Jews in Israel, or you care about others in the world, and that you cannot be both.

This is a false dichotomy. It belies the core of what it means to be a Jew. I am a Zionist and I want Palestinian suffering to stop. I am a believer in the possibility of coexistence. I am a person who has built my career and my life on the foundational assumption that a diversity of viewpoints can be held and sustained in one community, and at the very same time I can build alliances and friendships across all sorts of other diverse groups. This is not a betrayal to either.

And to suggest as such is no less and perhaps even more– if we’re honest– dangerous to the Jewish people than any external antisemitic threat.

More …

© Copyright JFJFP 2021