A past SlutWalk in Chicago. Photo: Chicago SlutWalk Facebook.
In an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Friday, activist Amanda Berman discussed her new progressive Zionist organization Zioness and its plans to march in this weekend’s feminist SlutWalk in Chicago.
According to Berman, Zioness was organized in response to the recent scandal in which Jewish activists were ejected from the Chicago Dyke March for carrying rainbow flags emblazoned with the Star of David, as well as claims made by anti-Israel Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour that Zionists cannot be feminists.
Zioness hopes to combat this exclusionary tendency by being unapologetically Zionist and progressive.
“It’s been a longtime coming for the community,” Berman said, “for Zionists who feel deeply about social justice issues, who have always been on the frontlines of every social justice movement. And now we’re being excluded from all sorts of different civil rights issues because of who we are and our ethnic identities.”
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She added that the June 24 Dyke March incident was “a watershed moment.”
“I think it was the first moment for a lot of people, not necessarily for me, but for a lot of people, where it was unequivocally antisemitic,” she said. “These were women who identified as queer who wanted to participate in a march to represent themselves and their identities, and they were kicked out for carrying a flag with a Jewish star. It opened up a lot of people’s eyes and it pushed a thing that was happening a lot already into the public consciousness and there was more of an opportunity to take action.”
Berman believes that Sarsour’s comments only enhanced progressive Zionists’ sense of discrimination because of “all the people who support her claims. It was really disheartening to see how many people respond positively to that message, that Zionists can’t be feminists.”
When asked whether she sees this discrimination as fundamentally racist or political, Berman replied, “I think a lot of people don’t know the difference. And I think a lot of people unfortunately don’t know what Zionism is. They don’t know what it means. They don’t understand that it has nothing to do with the policies or the politicians of a foreign government. It is the civil rights movement and the self-determination movement of the Jewish people.”
Jews, she added, need to actively assert their Zionism, because “for us to seize that history within our own community and to use it to help others to fight for civil rights or social justice and human dignity for every human being is totally consistent. And people just don’t understand that. I think we have to work on our messaging in our community, and that’s part of what the Zioness movement is about. It’s to challenge the narrative that we can’t participate in these types of movements because of who we are. We can, we should, and it’s a totally natural alliance.”
Berman said that she did not know how many people would march with Zioness at the SlutWalk on Saturday, but noted, “All I can tell you is that there’s been unbelievable enthusiasm, overwhelming really. We’ve been responding to messages and questions non-stop. Who will show up, I don’t know. I hope, I believe that it will be a lot of people but we’ll see what happens.”
One worry, of course, is that confrontations with anti-Israel activists will occur at the event. Berman was unequivocal on the issue, saying, “We are hoping to not have confrontation. We’re going to the march in solidarity, we’re coming as friends, and we’re coming because we care deeply about the issues that underlie the SlutWalk. We care about victim-blaming and slut-shaming and women’s empowerment and patriarchy and we want to have the opportunity to march for what we believe is right and just. And we hope we’ll be accepted there.”
In a press statement announcing the launch of Zioness, the group stated, “The organizers of the Zioness Movement are currently working to build coalitions of Zionists to support other progressive causes across the country.”
Asked if such coalitions are forming, Berman said, “It’s already happening. I can’t give you too many details, but as I said there’s been just so much excitement and enthusiasm around this already. We only launched on Tuesday and we’re speaking to a lot of different Jewish groups, institutional groups, individuals, leaders, rabbis… People who truly identify as progressives who care about these issues that we’re trying to address and accomplish together, and we want to join a broader coalition and then take this further.”
Berman added that the social media response has been particularly positive. “We’re having people say, ‘Come to the SlutWalk in LA in October, come bring this to San Francisco, we need a Zioness movement in New York,’ so I have a lot of faith that this is going to go far,” she said.
Rabbi Karyn Kedar — senior rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, Illinois and a lifelong civil rights activist — commented on Zioness’ efforts, saying, “I thought we had fought this battle. As a rabbi, I have spent years on the frontlines, among the crowds, and behind the scenes defending the rights and dignity of the marginalized in our society. And here we are again — attacked, excluded and ostracized by the very people we see as our partners. Make no mistake, anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism, and like all hate, must not be tolerated.”
SlutWalk is a feminist march against sexual violence. Recently, the organizers adopted the Dyke March’s policies banning Jewish symbols, but then relented in the face of intense criticism and apologized. However, as Zioness noted, “It also precluded nationalist symbols from being displayed at the march, including Israeli flags. In subsequent social media postings, SlutWalk organizers made clear that they view Palestinian flags as a symbol of ‘resistance’ and not nationalism.”
An antisemitic flyer found on the University of Houston campus on Tuesday. Photo: Michael Leone / Facebook
Dozens of flyers and stickers promoting neo-Nazi propaganda were found at the University of Houston (UH) this week, the latest incident associated with an increase in white supremacist activity on campuses nationwide.
The flyers, found on bulletin boards, walls, trash bins, and lamp posts at the university’s main campus on Tuesday, included phrases such as, “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” according to a statement shared online by UH’s chapter of the Young Communist League (YCL).
IDF soldiers make a blessing on the traditional Jewish custom of apple and honey to welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) said they will provide $1.5 million in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.
The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100.
The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement Wednesday.
Gaza-based terror group says it will agree to Palestinian Authority conditions on forming joint government and holding elections
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, center, and spokesman Fawzi Barhoum attend a protest in Gaza City on July 22, 2017, against new Israeli security measures implemented at the holy site, which include metal detectors and cameras, following an attack that killed two Israeli policemen the previous week. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
For the past week or so, Iranian official media and social networks have been abuzz with anecdotes woven around a football match in Tehran between Iran and Syria and the light it might shed on a complicated relationship.
According to most accounts, a group of Syrians flown in by special charter to cheer their national squad in its bid for a place in the World Cup in Moscow staged an anti-Iran demonstration in the stadium. The Syrian contingent included young ladies who refused to wear the Iranian-style hijab.
Their presence in the stadium highlighted the fact that no Iranian woman is allowed to attend a football match after a fatwa by the “Supreme Guide” that women watching young men running around with bare legs might cause “undue excitement”
An Orthodox man passes a British guard in London, UK. (drserg / Shutterstock.com)
A new in-depth survey conducted by the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found that around 30 percent of the British public hold at least one anti-Semitic viewpoint.
The report noted, however, that most of the 30 percent polled also held some positive views about Jews.
Further, around 15 percent of the British public indicated they agreed with two or more anti-Semitic views presented to them, while two percent of British adults polled were found to be “hard-core” anti-Semites.
The survey was conducted by JPR senior research fellow Dr. Daniel Staetsky using face-to-face interviews and online polls.
That’s followed by the sounds of the terrorists assaulting a passenger.
“Please don’t hurt me,” he pleads. “Oh God.”
As the passengers rush the cabin, a Muslim terrorist proclaims, “In the name of Allah.”
As New York firefighters struggle up the South Tower with 100 pounds of equipment on their backs trying to save lives until the very last moment, the Flight 93 passengers push toward the cockpit. The Islamic hijackers call out, “Allahu Akbar.”.
The autumn of 2015 was unusual in almost every way on the north Aegean Greek island of Lesbos from which I am writing. There were tens of thousands of illegal migrants on the island, the native population of which was scarcely 100,000. New refugees arrived every day by the thousands.
One evening, the blue-gray sky grumbled shortly after sunset. The thick clouds blackened and rain poured down over the city with a roar. As I ran across the slippery pavement into a friend’s bar, I heard a group of five poor souls speaking Persian with a Turkic accent and running amok, seeking shelter under the eaves of a building.
While the criminal investigation is closing in on one associate after another, one advisor after another, in one of the most serious affairs in the State of Israel’s history, and perhaps the most serious affair, I find it hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was driven by greed when he advanced the submarine deal.
There are doubts. There are associates being questioned one after the other. There are state’s witnesses. Nevertheless, Netanyahu likely wasn’t a partner in crime. He didn’t make decisions on the submarines in a bid to make a profit for himself or for his associates. It’s impossible, just impossible.
Regarding the question that forms the title of this article, I truly believe that the answer is “yes.” It is my belief that Christian Zionism is as obvious a sign of the beginning of the redemption of Israel as are the ingathering of millions of Jews to the land of Israel and the existence of the State of Israel itself. But there are many people who don’t share this perspective.
In the Jewish community, there are still many who are wary of Christian friendship and support. Many Jews are suspicious of an ulterior motive to convert Jews to Christianity that they fear underlies this political partnership.
Last weekend, the world experienced a petrifying “wake up call” when Pyongyang test launched a hydrogen bomb. According to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Sunday’s test represents “a new dimension to the threat.” Added Amano, “I think the North Korean threat is a global one now.
In the past, people thought it was a regional one, but that is no longer the case.”
Since 1994, when North Korea decided to pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), there has been a huge history of attempts to chain the North Korean nuclear beast, including efforts for military cooperation, sanctions and, of course, negotiations.