Building a strong Jewish state will not come from repressive practices.
By Alice Rothchild | The Seattle Times | Aug 9, 2019
I began to understand that Zionism inherently involves harm to Palestinians who were living in historic Palestine when Jewish immigration began in the early 1900s.
A central debate within the U.S. Jewish community involves Zionism and its relationship to Judaism. In the recent anthology “Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation,” 40 rabbis, scholars and activists reflect on their particular intellectual and emotional journeys that began with an unquestioning love of Israel. Like the other contributors, I became aware that the ideology of Jewish nationalism and the policies of the Israeli government have corrupted my concept of Judaism and its central religious and cultural values.
I grew up in a family, post Nazi Holocaust, that viewed the creation of a modern Jewish state as a miracle to be celebrated. We idealized the kibbutzim, saved our quarters to plant trees in the barren land and loved the romantic ideal of the Israeli pioneers making the desert bloom.
At the same time, like many Jews, I was proud of my progressive politics. I supported civil rights, women’s rights, labor unions; this was my lived expression of a religion that extolled healing the world and working for justice. As a second-generation immigrant, it was also how I saw my role in America, a land where my grandparents, fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe, found a home, even if it was only the hard scrabble ghettos of Brooklyn in the early 1900s.
My transformation began as I delved into the complicated issues of colonialism, imperialism, racism and genocide. I realized that my education about the creation of the U.S. had conveniently left out the destruction of native peoples, the primacy of slavery, the ubiquitous racism and the role of European colonialism. Similarly, there was much in my Hebrew school and subsequent Jewish education that was left unspoken about the founding of the state of Israel.