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 IsraelBut, of course, lots of liberals are pro-Israel precisely because they're liberal (or even, like me, Leftist). Haber's piece could easily be turned around as "Critic of Israel, Yes; Progressive, Maybe." I'm not sure what's meant here by "the State of Israel is the bedrock of their Jewish identity" -- I might say that Israel provides self-determination on which is based my ability to speak to my Jewish identity and on behalf of my Jewish identity in the public sphere with somewhat less fear, making my political rights more practical and not merely theoretical, but I don't think that's entirely what's meant here -- but let's take it for granted that the State of Israel is indeed the bedrock of Jewish identity for a great many Jews, enough that it is a meaningful example. Then I have to ask what is progressive about denying an oppressed minority their identity? Indeed, isn't that the basis for many of the criticisms of Israel's claim to be a Jewish state - that it denies its Palestinian minority their identity?
But why will they sit in coalitions with the likes of ZOA, but not with the likes of JVP?I'm in no position to sit in coalition with the ZOA or anyone else, but I will happily and loudly say that I despise them. I can think of no reason more significant than historical accident that the ZOA should be part of AIPAC while JVP isn't. But I'm no fan of JVP, either, because I believe they traduce my rights. Since when is "stop playing the race card" a progressive argument? True progressives -see what I did there- recognize that the race-card-card always trumps the race-card, and that "Stop playing The Race Card™" is constantly used to derail discussions about race and racism. Supposedly some powerful trump card, The Race Card™ is more like the 2 of clubs. Yet this is the basis of JVP's Muzzlewatch website. JVP claims to take antisemitism seriously, but when have they ever said, "now that's some serious antisemitism"? I would take them more seriously if they were to also point out when pro-Israel arguments or discussions about antisemitism were muzzled by, for example:
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?Now, of course, Haber does say:
Of course, I have my red lines; I wouldn't join a coalition with Neo-Nazis Against the Occupation.But, of course, any anti-racist with more than an hour's experience talking with racists knows how quickly they start saying, "I'm not a Klansman or a neo-Nazi." Usually, they start the conversation with "Now, I'm no racist, but..." Again, this is Anti-Racism 101: Racism is more than just the extreme edge that most people easily recognize as racist. I will not abandon these lessons and principles just so that Jerry Haber can accept me as a liberal in good standing.
If Haber wants to broaden the debate, rather than chastising Jews with good, solid, leftist reasons for supporting Israel as a bulwark against antisemitism, he would do better to acknowledge what is right in what they say. He would do better to say that broad coalitions provide relationships in which it is easier to criticize than to say that we shouldn't criticize. And if I'm more likely to sit down with someone too anti-Palestinian than to sit down with Haber, it may be because it's Haber who wants me to keep quiet.