Participants run in Israeli Bible Marathon in the West Bank town of Bethlehem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Alliance for New Zionist Vision (ANZV), a party running in the World Zionist Congress elections that are taking place, has decided to continue with its campaign of deception in an op-ed piece authored by Leah Karchmer last Friday. The piece questions the progressive ideals and Zionist character of the Hatikvah Slate while oddly reassigning them to the ANZV. The ANZV may offer a new spin on traditional revisionist Zionism, but they are anything but progressive.
Is it progressive to rob the Palestinians of their right to self-determination? Nowhere in Karchmer’s article does she address Palestinian concerns, desires, or their status as a legitimate nation that is entitled to a nation state of their own. The ANZV aspires for a Jewish state from the river to the sea, this of course being based on the Jewish people’s biblical connection to the land. Yishai Fleisher, another ANZV candidate, elaborates on this position in an interview on Voice of Israel by stating that Palestinians could earn Israeli citizenship by pledging allegiance to this Greater Israel. Well, I have bad news for the ANZV: over 70% of Palestinians polled in the West Bank and Gaza want a Palestine from the river to the sea. The Hatikvah Slate recognizes this reality and therefore calls for intensive negotiations with a freeze of settlement activity prior to a resolution. What does the ANZV propose?
Is it progressive to look back with admiration to the militant, terroristic politics of pre-state LEHI (the Stern Gang) while condemning Labor Zionism as imperialist? In a bizarre manipulation of history, Karchmer insinuates that we’ve gotten the political spectrum mixed up all these years. Revisionist Zionism and its successors- Israel’s religious right- are the true left-wing Zionists. For those who are unfamiliar with the history of right-wing Zionism, LEHI evolved into Herut (Menachem Begin’s party), which evolved into Likud. Even if we set aside LEHI’s attempted alliance with the fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany, or their numerous assassinations of British officials, or their massacre of Palestinians in Deir Yassin…actually, no, we must not set these facts aside.
The attempt to appropriate the title of “left-wing” is at the root of the ANZV’s nefarious campaign. While it is no doubt silly to play a game of tug-of-war over who gets to rightfully claim the title of left-wing, they correctly identify the failure of Israeli Hasbarah in the American Jewish community and the growing appeal of liberalism. They understand that each generation is more attuned to the wrongdoings of the Israeli government. They clearly understand the appeal of words like “progressive”, “social justice”, “civil rights”, and “democracy”, so they try to claim them as their own. In the end, the ANZV supports annexing the West Bank, establishing a Greater Israel, and expelling all Arabs who do not pledge allegiance to the Jewish state. These are not ideas that younger generations of American Jews can reconcile with their values of social justice.
The Hatikvah Slate is the only slate running in the World Zionist Slate that is sensitive to Palestinian demands and minority rights in Israel while remaining steadfast in our Zionist values. We call for a cessation of settlement building. Not necessarily because we view the West Bank as for-eign territory, but because we recognize that it is not only ours. We understand that calling for peace with the Palestinians while simultaneously expanding settlements in what they would like as their future homeland is counterproductive. Beyond the struggle for land, however, is the necessity for full civil rights for minorities in Israel with equal education for all citizens. We are fighting for the Israel that we would like to see.
Indeed, as Karchmer writes, Zionism means many things to many people. Her attempt, therefore, to remove us from the Zionist camp is ridiculous. The Hatikvah Slate believes in the necessity of a Jewish nation state, one where Jews constitute the majority. This belief is shared by the vast majority of Israelis and by Jews in the Diaspora. However, the bottom line is that roughly 25% of Israelis would prefer a binational state in which Palestinians lack basic rights. I have no doubt that this is really what ANZV believes in, despite their excellent PR campaign.The author currently serves as Director of Operations and Outreach for Partners for Progressive Israel.