According to Brooke Goldstein, who agreed to speak to me about it after I contacted her, she basically gave up the proverbial “keys to the car” to her one-time Lawfare Project employee Amanda Berman, who she agreed would represent Zioness in the media, given Goldstein’s numerous appearances on Fox News, which were seen as a liability (even though Goldstein is a liberal Zionist).
She also claimed she was pressured by Berman into removing the #Zioness hashtag from her Twitter profile for the same reason, namely that it could hurt their “brand” within the liberal progressive space. Even more troubling is Goldstein’s allegation that Berman had threatened to call Lawfare’s donors if Lawfare didn’t remove any mention of Zioness from its website.
Based on what I was hearing, the irony of a movement formed to combat the exclusion of Jews from the political space, ostensibly turning around and excluding a Zionist Jew for not aligning with an exclusively anti-Trump narrative, was not lost on me.
I asked Goldstein why she agreed to allow Berman to take front and center. She answered that she reluctantly agreed to allow Zioness, when it was under Lawfare’s tutelage, to take somewhat radical progressive stances because Berman had said that it was necessary at first to become more “accepted” – especially with so much anti-Zionism on the Left. But over time, Berman had promised to veer away from the echo chamber, while still remaining true to Zioness’ liberal roots. From where I am sitting, this never occurred, and in fact it seems that Zioness has become more extreme Left if anything.
So based on Goldstein’s account, Zioness has lost its way because Amanda Berman has injected her personal politics into it.
As much as I respect Brooke Goldstein, I knew I had to get Amanda Berman’s point of view, in the interests of fairness. I contacted her via email a number of times, but received no response from her. Her PR person, however, did get in touch with me to answer general questions about Zioness, presumably after Berman informed him about my emails. My impression after speaking with the PR person was that they do not see any issue with Zioness’ direction.
Whether or not this is Berman’s personal politics or a calculated strategy, to me it is damaging to the Zionist cause. Now do not get me wrong: I do understand the need to take on many of the positions of the Left – Zioness is a liberal-progressive movement after all. And I do acknowledge that Zioness still speaks out against antisemitism, even some of it emanating from the Left. But it seems to ignore much of this antisemitism, and does not bring back authentic liberal values that embraced Israel as a bastion of liberal freedoms, as per its original objectives.
For every one time they call out an “easy” target like Linda Sarsour or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they promote a radically dangerous position antithetical to Jewish and Israeli interests – like where they reposted antisemitic conspiracy theorist Wajahat Ali (as mentioned in my previous post).
What is the real “Zionist” value added by the Zioness movement when it basically seems to parrot the radical progressive Left minus their antisemitism? Is the organization so devoid of moral leadership that they find themselves having to support members of congress who are against what Zioness is supposed to be standing for? Is it that these disenfranchised Jews are trying so hard to prove their progressive credentials that they are forced to abandon their basic principles and align themselves with those whose sympathies lie with Jew haters?
Indeed, the perversion of Zioness seems to be a symptom of what is happening in the larger Jewish community. Those on the Left who consider themselves card-carrying Democrats have been forced to face a harsh reality – either resist the antisemitism in the party, ignore it or join them. Zioness walks the bizarre line of embracing the radical and still claiming to represent mainstream pro-Israel Jews.
Aside from the political litmus test it requires of its members, Zioness is attempting to impose a litmus test on Zionism. Since the organization defines “calling out Trump” as an integral part of being a Zioness, it is excluding Jews who refuse to constantly bash him. Again, do not get me wrong. I am not pro Trump, and am not suggesting Zioness should be, or even that they should praise him. But what Zionist value do they bring when they refuse to support some of the things his administration has done, which have been good for Israel, just because it was his administration?
At a time when our enemies are attempting to divide us, it is incredibly important that we prevent Zionism, which belongs to all Jews, from being co-opted by the radical Left.
As the Democratic party rallies around Omar and her cohorts, and democratic presidential candidates align themselves with the anti-Israel voices in their party, will Zioness have the moral courage to stay true to its mission? Or will it continue to be a political lemming and a mouthpiece for an Israel-hating progressive movement it can’t control?
I sincerely hope this series of posts help trigger a change and Zioness becomes a leader in the progressive community and succeeds in bringing Zionist values to the liberal space, as was intended.
Postscript: Following my initial posts in this series, Zioness rebutted my points and engaged in debate with me.
Yeah, I wish.
They have also blocked Brooke Goldstein and many other Zionist Jews, merely for engaging in a dialogue about the real issues our community faces.
A movement claiming to be inclusive and fighting the exclusion of Zionist Jews which itself excludes Zionist Jews.