What does an open, healthy dialogue about Zionism look like?

We’re always talking about ways that dialogue about US-Israel policy gets shut down, and how critics of Israeli policies in particular get smeared or silenced, yadda yadda. Now it’s a pleasure to point readers to a blog that is doing just the opposite.

Dan Fleshler over at Realistic Dove has initiated a thoughtful, respectful, and interesting dialogue about Israeli policies and lately, Zionism, where people across the ideological spectrum can talk in a respectful and searching tone. Wow.

I personally find the whole Zionism/anti-Zionism litmus test both distasteful, often offensive, and certainly odd. It’s odd and to me artificial because the definitions are so slippery, the understandingof Zionisms so superficial.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a discussion about Zionism with someone in which it wasn’t apparent we were making completely different assumptions. Further, many of us who care about the topic of Zionism are in a relationship of engagement, exploration, questioning, and learning.

Instead, the McCarthyite tendencies– on both the left and right–force people to pick a fixed ideology as their identity, and pin it down like a moth on a display board. Clearly, both sides use it as a proxy test to check for anti-Semitism, or anti-Arabism. The test is a poor if not offensive and damaging substitute for those things, and has degraded the entire discourse around Zionism.

Speaking for myself, “my people” aren’t the Zionists, the anti-Zionists, the post-Zionists or any other ideological category or artificial identity. They’re anyone who agrees with Hillel, who said of the Torah, “what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: all the rest, is commentary.”

Indeed, if you and I agree on that fundamental principle, “what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor,” then how we get there is the dialogue and journey we go on together. Kudos to any group of people who can create a respectful space in which to discuss and comment.

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