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  • Writer's pictureRotem A. Oreg

"We don't have a choice but Liberal Zionism."

"We don't have a choice but Liberal Zionism." Those were the words of one of the participants in a Zoom call we have this week with the Jewish Community in Greenich, Connecticut - and similar message was made by every other friend and ally we talked with this week: from Connecticut to Sacramento, from Philadelphia to Berkely, from New York City to Madison, Wisconsin. A bold majority of American Jews refuse to give up on Israel and would not give up on their liberal values. And they should not give up on either.

Liberal Zionism (or Progressive Zionism, for that matter) is about two simple things: Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish-democratic, secure, and prosperous state, and the Palestinians are human beings who deserve to live in dignity, peace, and freedom. These two things are not contradicting.

דגלי ישראל וארה"ב
מפגינים נגד ההפיכה המשטרית. כשאנו יוצאים להפגין, אנו גם מפגינים עבור יהדות אמריקה הליברלית.

Unfortunately, in the Israel-discourse in the U.S. there is often a demand to choose: either standing by Israel at any cost, ignoring its flaws and mistakes (and let's be clear, there's plenty); or calling her out in demand for a radical change in its policy or even its nature, ignoring its legitimate security needs.

Our mission is to dissolve this false dichotomy: to convince as many liberal Americans that there is no contradiction between their values - justice, equity and peace - and defending Israel and supporting it. The contrary: supporting a Jewish-democratic Israel, including a struggle for its nature and for making it a better society, that is the liberal thing to do.

And this is exactly the point in which protests against the judicial coup kicks in, as well as the role of American Jewry, which vast majority of it are liberals and progressives who vote for the Democratic party and are terrified by the disaster this government is bringing upon the only Jewish-democratic state in the world.

The liberal Jews in the U.S. can and should take place in the protest. Publish in the media, spread the news from Israel, call their representatives to make a stand, those who visit - take it to the streets, of course donating money to liberal organizations (since what's good for Kohelet should be good for us).

Jewish Americans will be deeply influenced by the coup, just as much as Jews who live in Israel - the discrimination against the liberal branches in Judaism will be deepened and codified, and the attack on the checks and balances and separation of power will make it impossible to claim that Israel is a democracy. In other words, the coup will provide ammunition to anyone who'll claims that liberalism and Zionism don't go hand-in-hand - and we can let that happen.

Just last week Barak Ravid wrote that the congressional delegation that visited Israel last month told Prime Minister Netanyahu that the judicial legislation hurts their ability to defend Israel, and asked for a broad consensus on the amendments in the justice system - "to help us to help you". That's why when we go to protest, we also protest for our Democratic friends in the U.S., who struggle for Israel on the other side of the ocean.

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