Tuesday 6 May 2014

On Israel’s 66th Independence Day, an urgent question for liberal Jews

On Israel's 66th Independence Day, I want to share with you an article that I just published in Israel's Haaretz newspaper. In it, I point out the historical and conceptual contradictions of liberal Zionism, and encourage liberal Jews to recognise that assumptions about the possibility of a Jewish democracy have rested on sloppy or wishful thinking, with devastating consequences. I urge liberal Jews who are genuinely committed to equality to confront the logical impossibility of "liberal Zionism," demand civil rights for all, and "go left."

Below is the opening of my piece - I will publish the remainder here on my blog in 48 hours. I hope you find my argument compelling and my analysis informative. Please do share your thoughts via Twitter @beccasteinfeld - I would love to hear them. Also, please consider sharing my piece with your professional and social networks. I am hoping to further debate on these crucial issues at this critical moment. Many thanks. 


Now is supposedly crunch time for liberal Zionists. The latest diplomatic attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears to have failed, and with it the two-state solution upon which liberal Zionism depends. As a result, political scientist Dov Waxman says liberal Zionists must confront a painful question: “if a two-state solution is now impossible, should they support, however reluctantly, a one-state solution?” If so, should they prioritize their Zionism in favour of a Jewish one-state, even if this means foregoing their liberalism? Or should they prioritize their liberalism in favour of a democratic one-state, even if this means forgoing their Zionism?

Whether to go right toward a Jewish one-state or go left toward a democratic one-state is a serious challenge for liberal Jews both inside and outside Israel, who are committed to liberal values such as equality and civil rights. It is also an important question for diplomats, as reflected in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent remarks that Israel could become an apartheid state.

On Israel’s 66th Independence Day, in the 47th year since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war brought large numbers of Palestinians under Israeli control, there has never been a more urgent time to ask – and more importantly, to answer - these questions. Yet, I would argue that these questions are neither new nor confined to the area beyond the "Green Line."


This article was originally published by Haaretz. For the full article, click here.