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Zionism Is Not Racism

I’m not an ideologue or someone that likes to hear my own voice. But the Voice criticizing the Jewish Federation and Israel offered so many historically and contextually inaccurate points that I felt a need to share another set of views.

First, in this time of polarization and labels, let me make some disclaimers so I don’t get thrown into some expedient ideological bucket. I’m an independent moderate drawn to both liberal and conservative views who finds himself more on the left than the right. On Israel, I have deep appreciation for Israel’s security concerns but also condemn the building of settlements in the occupied territories.

The first thing to counter is the misguided propagation by the writer, Marcy Winograd, that Zionism is about colonialism and subjugation. Most Zionists have no colonialist mindset at all. They respect the Jewish people and their historical contribution and believe the world is more net positive than net negative if the Jewish people have a homeland. Simple as that.

Another red flag on balance is when someone voices outrage about Israel policy against Palestinians but simultaneously does not criticize the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for (a) human rights violations and (b) lack of accountability for their role in the current situation. The world is a more humane place ultimately when accountability is held as a high human standard.

Palestinians would have had a state by now if their rejectionism of Jews (not being able to get over the humiliations of losing the 1948 war that they started) did not so materially degrade their ability to negotiate well on behalf of their citizens.

On the Israeli side, they’re surrounded by neighbors whose political and religious leaders talk about Jews being sub-human, having no history in the region, and the need to drive them into the sea after faux peace.

Yes, things are different now that Likud has been in power for so long. Now more Israelis are less interested in land for peace deals. And that is a bummer. But, if Israeli discotheques and bus stops weren’t getting bombed in the ’90s and early 2000s, the Israeli voter base wouldn’t have supported Sharon and Netanyahu. Could the Palestinians have used a more results-oriented strategy than suicide bombings?

I think where the writer really tipped her hard-core feelings was when she stated “indoctrination in Zionism starts at an early age” and described Israel as being involved in “ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” To associate indoctrination with a nonprofit paying for kids to take a trip to Israel is kind of vicious. And the comment about ethnic cleansing is so brutal and ignorant I won’t even go there. Maybe her views are an extension of some other condition she should just own up to.

Israel is far from perfect and its policy in the occupied territories is not a case study for the world. But let’s be fair; given the complex security situation on the ground, how many democracies would perform just as badly as Israel? Would our beloved Scandinavians become the brutal colonialists of BBC News if they were in Israel’s place?

I gain no self-satisfaction in expressing these views. I just found the op-ed to be so deplete of justice and perspective that the Santa Barbara community needed to hear another point of view.

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