The Forgotten History of the Jewish, Anti-Zionist Left

A conversation with scholar Benjamin Balthaser about Jewish, working-class anti-Zionism in the 1930s and ’40s.

Sarah Lazare

An election poster of the General Jewish Labour Bund hung in Kiev in 1917. The heading reads, "Where we live, there is our country!"

Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu’s push to forcibly annex up to 30% of the occu­pied West Bank is expos­ing the vio­lence inher­ent in impos­ing a Jew­ish eth­no-state on an indige­nous Pales­tin­ian pop­u­la­tion. While the plan is delayed for now, the human rights orga­ni­za­tion B’Tselem reports that, in prepa­ra­tion for annex­a­tion, Israel already ramped up its demo­li­tions of Pales­tin­ian homes in the West Bank in June, destroy­ing 30 that month, a fig­ure that does not include demo­li­tions in East Jerusalem.

We can see the emptiness and barrenness of aligning ourselves with an American imperial project.

The theft and destruc­tion of Pales­tin­ian homes and com­mu­ni­ties, how­ev­er, is just one piece of a much larg­er — and old­er — colo­nial project. As Pales­tin­ian orga­niz­er San­dra Tamari writes, Pales­tini­ans have been forced to endure Israel’s poli­cies of expul­sion and land appro­pri­a­tion for over 70 years.” Today, this real­i­ty has evolved into an overt apartheid sys­tem: Pales­tini­ans with­in Israel are sec­ond-class cit­i­zens, with Israel now offi­cial­ly cod­i­fy­ing that self-deter­mi­na­tion is for Jews only. Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank and Gaza are sub­ject to mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion, siege, block­ade and mar­tial law — a sys­tem of vio­lent dom­i­na­tion enabled by polit­i­cal and finan­cial sup­port from the Unit­ed States.

Anti-Zion­ists argue that this bru­tal real­i­ty is not just the prod­uct of a right-wing gov­ern­ment or fail­ure to effec­tive­ly pro­cure a two-state solu­tion. Rather, it stems from the mod­ern Zion­ist project itself, one estab­lished in a colo­nial con­text, and fun­da­men­tal­ly reliant on eth­nic cleans­ing and vio­lent dom­i­na­tion of Pales­tin­ian peo­ple. Jews around the world are among those who call them­selves anti-Zion­ists, and who vocif­er­ous­ly object to the claim that the state of Israel rep­re­sents the will — or inter­ests — of Jew­ish people.

In These Times spoke with Ben­jamin Balthas­er, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of mul­ti­eth­nic lit­er­a­ture at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty at South Bend. His recent arti­cle, When Anti-Zion­ism Was Jew­ish: Jew­ish Racial Sub­jec­tiv­i­ty and the Anti-Impe­ri­al­ist Lit­er­ary Left from the Great Depres­sion to the Cold War,” exam­ines the erased his­to­ry of anti-Zion­ism among the Jew­ish, work­ing-class left in the 1930s and 40s. Balthas­er is the author of a book of poems about the old Jew­ish left called Ded­i­ca­tion, and an aca­d­e­m­ic mono­graph titled Anti-Impe­ri­al­ist Mod­ernism. He is work­ing on a book about Jew­ish Marx­ists, social­ist thought and anti-Zion­ism in the 20th century.

He spoke with In These Times about the colo­nial ori­gins of mod­ern Zion­ism, and the Jew­ish left’s quar­rel with it, on the grounds that it is a form of right-wing nation­al­ism, is fun­da­men­tal­ly opposed to work­ing-class inter­na­tion­al­ism, and is a form of impe­ri­al­ism. Accord­ing to Balthas­er, this polit­i­cal tra­di­tion under­mines the claim that Zion­ism reflects the will of all Jew­ish peo­ple, and offers sign­posts for the present day. For Jews in the Unit­ed States who are try­ing to think about their rela­tion­ship not only to Pales­tine, but also their own place in the world as an his­tor­i­cal­ly per­se­cut­ed eth­no-cul­tur­al dias­poric minor­i­ty, we have to think of whose side we are on, and which glob­al forces we want to align with,” he says. If we do not want to side with the exe­cu­tion­ers of the far-right, with colo­nial­ism, and with racism, there is a Jew­ish cul­tur­al resource for us to draw on — a polit­i­cal resource to draw on.”

Sarah Lazare: Can you please explain what the ide­ol­o­gy of Zion­ism is? Who devel­oped it and when?

Ben­jamin Balthas­er: A cou­ple of things need to be dis­en­tan­gled. First of all, there is a long Jew­ish his­to­ry that pre­dates the ide­ol­o­gy of Zion­ism that looks at Jerusalem, the ancient king­dom of Judea, as a site of cul­tur­al, reli­gious and, you can say, mes­sian­ic long­ing. If you know Jew­ish litur­gy, there are ref­er­ences that go back thou­sands of years to the land of Zion, to Jerusalem, the old king­dom that the Romans destroyed. There have been attempts through­out Jew­ish his­to­ry, dis­as­trous­ly, to return” to the land of Pales­tine, most famous­ly, Sab­batai Zevi in the 17th cen­tu­ry. But for the most part, through much of Jew­ish his­to­ry, Israel” was under­stood as a kind of a cul­tur­al and mes­sian­ic long­ing, but there was no desire to actu­al­ly phys­i­cal­ly move there, out­side of small reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties in Jerusalem and, of course, the small num­ber of Jews who con­tin­ued to live in Pales­tine under the Ottoman Empire — about 5% of the population.

Con­tem­po­rary Zion­ism, par­tic­u­lar­ly polit­i­cal Zion­ism, does draw on that large reser­voir of cul­tur­al long­ing and reli­gious text to legit­imize itself, and that’s where the con­fu­sion comes. Mod­ern Zion­ism arose in the late 19th cen­tu­ry as a Euro­pean nation­al­ist move­ment. And I think that’s the way to under­stand it. It was one of these many Euro­pean nation­al­ist move­ments of oppressed minori­ties that attempt­ed to con­struct out of the diverse cul­tures of West­ern and East­ern Europe eth­ni­cal­ly homoge­nous nation-states. And there were many Jew­ish nation­alisms of the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies, of which Zion­ism was only one.

There was the Jew­ish Bund, which was a left-wing social­ist move­ment that rose to promi­nence in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry that artic­u­lat­ed a deter­ri­to­ri­al­ized nation­al­ism in East­ern Europe. They felt their place was East­ern Europe, their land was East­ern Europe, their lan­guage was Yid­dish. And they want­ed to strug­gle for free­dom in Europe where they actu­al­ly lived. And they felt that their strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion was against oppres­sive cap­i­tal­ist gov­ern­ments in Europe. Had the Holo­caust not wiped out the Bund and oth­er Jew­ish social­ists in East­ern Europe, we might be talk­ing about Jew­ish nation­al­ism in a very dif­fer­ent con­text now.

Of course, there were Sovi­et exper­i­ments, prob­a­bly most famous in Biro­bidzhan, but also one very brief one in Ukraine, to cre­ate Jew­ish autonomous zones with­in ter­ri­to­ries that Jews lived, or else­where with­in the Sovi­et Union, root­ed in the Yid­dish idea of doykait, dias­poric here­ness, and Yid­dish lan­guage and culture.

Zion­ism was one of these cul­tur­al nation­al­ist move­ments. What made it dif­fer­ent was that it graft­ed itself onto British colo­nial­ism, a rela­tion­ship made explic­it with the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion in 1917, and actu­al­ly tried to cre­ate a coun­try out of a British colony — Man­date Pales­tine — and use British colo­nial­ism as a way to help estab­lish itself in the Mid­dle East. The Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion was essen­tial­ly a way to use the British Empire for its own ends. On some lev­el, you could say Zion­ism is a tox­ic mix­ture of Euro­pean nation­al­ism and British impe­ri­al­ism graft­ed onto a cul­tur­al reser­voir of Jew­ish tropes and mytholo­gies that come from Jew­ish litur­gy and culture.

Sarah: One of the under­pin­nings of mod­ern Zion­ism is that it’s an ide­ol­o­gy that rep­re­sents the will of all Jews. But in your paper, you argue that crit­i­cism of Zion­ism was actu­al­ly quite com­mon on the Jew­ish left in the 1930s and 40s, and that this his­to­ry has been large­ly erased. Can you talk about what these crit­i­cisms were and who was mak­ing them?

Ben­jamin: The fun­ny part about the Unit­ed States, and I would say this is most­ly true for Europe, is that before the end of World War II, and even a lit­tle after, most Jews dis­par­aged Zion­ists. And it didn’t mat­ter if you were a com­mu­nist, it didn’t mat­ter if you were a Reform Jew, Zion­ism was not pop­u­lar. There were a lot of dif­fer­ent rea­sons for Amer­i­can Jews to not like Zion­ism before the 1940s.

There’s the lib­er­al cri­tique of Zion­ism most famous­ly artic­u­lat­ed by Elmer Berg­er and the Amer­i­can Coun­cil for Judaism. The anx­i­ety among these folks was that Zion­ism would basi­cal­ly be a kind of dual loy­al­ty, that it would open Jews up to the claim that they’re not real Amer­i­cans, and that it would actu­al­ly frus­trate their attempts to assim­i­late into main­stream Amer­i­can cul­ture. Elmer Berg­er also for­ward­ed the idea that Jews are not a cul­ture or a peo­ple, but sim­ply a reli­gion, and there­fore have noth­ing in com­mon with one anoth­er out­side of the reli­gious faith. This, I would argue, is an assim­i­la­tion­ist idea that comes out of the 1920s and 30s and tries to resem­ble a Protes­tant notion of com­mu­ni­ties of faith.”

But for the Jew­ish left — the com­mu­nist, social­ist, Trot­sky­ist and Marx­ist left — their cri­tique of Zion­ism came from two quar­ters: a cri­tique of nation­al­ism and a cri­tique of colo­nial­ism. They under­stood Zion­ism as a right-wing nation­al­ism and, in that sense, bour­geois. They saw it as in line with oth­er forms of nation­al­ism — an attempt to align the work­ing class with the inter­ests of the bour­geoisie. There was at the time a well-known take­down of Vladimir Jabotin­sky in the New Mass­es in 1935, in which Marx­ist crit­ic Robert Gess­ner calls Jabotin­sky a lit­tle Hitler on the Red Sea. Gess­ner calls the Zion­ists Nazis and the left in gen­er­al saw Jew­ish nation­al­ism as a right-wing for­ma­tion try­ing to cre­ate a uni­fied, mil­i­taris­tic cul­ture that aligns work­ing-class Jew­ish inter­ests with the inter­ests of the Jew­ish bourgeoisie.

So that’s one cri­tique of Zion­ism. The oth­er cri­tique of Zion­ism, which I think is more con­tem­po­rary to the left today, is that Zion­ism is a form of impe­ri­al­ism. If you look at the pam­phlets and mag­a­zines and speech­es that are giv­en on the Jew­ish left in the 1930s and 40s, they saw that Zion­ists were align­ing them­selves with British impe­ri­al­ism. They also were very aware of the fact that the Mid­dle East was col­o­nized, first by the Ottomans and then by the British. They saw the Pales­tin­ian strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion as part of a glob­al anti-impe­ri­al­ist movement.

Of course, Jew­ish com­mu­nists saw them­selves not as cit­i­zens of a nation-state, but as part of the glob­al pro­le­tari­at: part of the glob­al work­ing class, part of the glob­al rev­o­lu­tion. And so for them to think about their home­land as this small strip of land in the Mediter­ranean — regard­less of any cul­tur­al affin­i­ty to Jerusalem — would just be against every­thing they believe.

As the Holo­caust began in earnest in the 1940s, and Jews were flee­ing Europe in any way they pos­si­bly could, some mem­bers of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty advo­cat­ed that Jews should be allowed to go to Pales­tine. If you’re flee­ing anni­hi­la­tion and Pales­tine is the only place you can go that is nat­ur­al. But that doesn’t mean you can cre­ate a nation-state there. You need to get along with the peo­ple who live there as best as you pos­si­bly can. There was a com­mu­nist par­ty of Pales­tine that did advo­cate for Jew­ish and Pales­tin­ian col­lab­o­ra­tion to oust the British and cre­ate a bina­tion­al state — which, for a host of rea­sons, includ­ing the seg­re­gat­ed nature of Jew­ish set­tle­ment, proved hard­er in prac­tice than in theory.

In any case, the Jew­ish left in the 1930s and 1940s under­stood, crit­i­cal­ly, that the only way Zion­ism would be able to emerge in Pales­tine was through a colo­nial project and through the expul­sion of the indige­nous Pales­tini­ans from the land. In a speech by Earl Brow­der, chair­man of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, in Manhattan’s Hip­po­drome, he declares that a Jew­ish state can only be formed through the expul­sion of a quar­ter-mil­lion Pales­tini­ans, which atten­dees thought was very shock­ing at the time, but it actu­al­ly end­ed up being a dra­mat­ic undercount.

Sarah: You wrote in your recent jour­nal arti­cle, Per­haps the sin­gle most per­va­sive nar­ra­tive about Zion­ism, even among schol­ars and writ­ers who acknowl­edge its mar­gin­al sta­tus before the war, is that the Holo­caust changed Jew­ish opin­ioin and con­vinced Jews of its neces­si­ty.” You iden­ti­fy some major holes in this nar­ra­tive. Can you explain what they are?

Ben­jamin: I would alter that a bit to say I’m real­ly talk­ing about the com­mu­nist and Marx­ist left in this con­text. I grew up with in a left-wing fam­i­ly where opin­ion was def­i­nite­ly divid­ed on the ques­tion of Zion­ism — yet, nonethe­less, there was a per­va­sive idea that the Holo­caust changed opin­ion uni­ver­al­ly, and every­one fell in line as soon as the details of the Holo­caust were revealed, Zion­ist and anti-Zion­ist alike.

It’s unde­ni­ably cor­rect to say that with­out the Holo­caust there prob­a­bly would have been no Israel, if just for the sin­gle fact that there was a mas­sive influx of Jew­ish refugees after the war who would have undoubt­ed­ly stayed in Europe oth­er­wise. With­out that influx of Jews who could fight the 1948 war and pop­u­late Israel just after, it’s doubt­ful an inde­pen­dent state of Israel could have succeeded.

How­ev­er, one thing I found most sur­pris­ing going through the Jew­ish left press in the 1940s — pub­li­ca­tions of the Trot­sky­ist Social­ist Work­ers Par­ty, the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, and writ­ings by Han­nah Arendt — is that even after the scope of the Holo­caust was wide­ly under­stood, their offi­cial posi­tion was still anti-Zion­ist. They may have called for Jews to be allowed to reset­tle in the lands from which they were expelled or mas­sa­cred, with full rights and full cit­i­zen­ship, be allowed to immi­grate to the Unit­ed States, or even be allowed to emi­grate to Pales­tine if there was nowhere else to go (as was often the case). But they were still whol­ly against par­ti­tion and the estab­lish­ment of a Jew­ish-only state.

What is impor­tant to under­stand about that moment was that Zion­ism was a polit­i­cal choice — not only by west­ern impe­r­i­al pow­ers, but also by Jew­ish lead­er­ship. They could have fought more stren­u­ous­ly for Jew­ish immi­gra­tion to the Unit­ed States. And a lot of the Zion­ist lead­ers actu­al­ly fought against immi­gra­tion to the Unit­ed States. There were a num­ber of sto­ries report­ed in the Jew­ish Com­mu­nist press about how Zion­ists col­lab­o­rat­ed with the British and Amer­i­cans to force Jews to go to Man­date Pales­tine, when they would have rather gone to the Unit­ed States, or Eng­land. There’s a famous quote by Ernest Bevin, the British For­eign Sec­re­tary, who said the only rea­son the Unit­ed States sent Jews to Pales­tine was because they do not want too many more of them in New York.” And the Zion­ists agreed with this.

While this may seem like ancient his­to­ry, it is impor­tant because it dis­rupts the com­mon sense sur­round­ing Israel’s for­ma­tion. Yes, maybe there could have been peace between Jews and Pales­tini­ans, but the Holo­caust made all of that impos­si­ble.” And I would say that this debate after 1945 shows that there was a long moment in which there were oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties, and anoth­er future could have happened.

Iron­i­cal­ly, per­haps, the Sovi­et Union did more than any oth­er sin­gle force to change the minds of the Jew­ish Marx­ist left in the late 1940s about Israel. Andrei Gromyko, the Sovi­et Union’s ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations, came out in 1947 and backed par­ti­tion in the Unit­ed Nations after declar­ing the West­ern world did noth­ing to stop the Holo­caust, and sud­den­ly there’s this about-face. All these Jew­ish left-wing pub­li­ca­tions that were denounc­ing Zion­ism, lit­er­al­ly the next day, were embrac­ing par­ti­tion and the for­ma­tion of the nation-state of Israel.

You have to under­stand, for a lot of Jew­ish com­mu­nists and even social­ists, the Sovi­et Union was the promised land — not Zion­ism. This was the place where they had, accord­ing to the pro­pa­gan­da, erad­i­cat­ed anti­semisitm. The Russ­ian Empire was the most anti­se­mit­ic place through­out the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, before the rise of Nazism. Many of the Jew­ish Com­mu­nist Par­ty mem­bers were from East­ern Europe, or their fam­i­lies were, and they had very vivid mem­o­ries of Rus­sia as the cru­cible of anti­semitism. For them, the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion was a rup­ture in his­to­ry, a chance to start over. And, of course, this is after World War II, when the Sovi­et Union had just defeat­ed the Nazis. For the Sovi­et Union to embrace Zion­ism real­ly sent a shock­wave through the left-wing Jew­ish world. The Sovi­et Union changed its pol­i­cy a decade or so lat­er, open­ly embrac­ing anti-Zion­ism by the 1960s. But for this brief piv­otal moment, the Sovi­et Union firm­ly came down in favor of par­ti­tion, and that seems to be what real­ly changed the Jew­ish left.

With­out this kind of legit­i­ma­tion, I think we are all start­ing to see the Jew­ish left such as it exists return back in an impor­tant way to the posi­tions that it had orig­i­nal­ly held, which is that Zion­ism is a right-wing nation­al­ism and that it is also racist and colo­nial­ist. We are see­ing the Jew­ish left return to its first principles.

Sarah: That’s a good segue to some ques­tions I want­ed to ask you about the rel­e­vance of anti-Zion­ist his­to­ry to the present day. For a lot of peo­ple, Israel’s plan to annex huge amounts of Pales­tin­ian land in the West Bank, while delayed, is still lay­ing bare the vio­lence of the Zion­ist project of estab­lish­ing Jew­ish rule over a Pales­tin­ian pop­u­la­tion. And we are see­ing some promi­nent lib­er­al Zion­ists like Peter Beinart pub­licly pro­claim that the two-state solu­tion is dead and one state based on equal rights is the best path. Do you see now as an impor­tant moment to con­nect with the his­to­ry of Jew­ish anti-Zion­ism? Do you see open­ings or pos­si­bil­i­ties for chang­ing peo­ple’s minds?

Ben­jamin: In a way, Beinart’s let­ter was 70 years too late. But it is still a very impor­tant cul­tur­al turn, to the extent that he is part of a lib­er­al Jew­ish estab­lish­ment. I would also say that we’re in a dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal moment. In the 1930s and 40s, you can real­ly talk about a kind of glob­al rev­o­lu­tion­ary sen­ti­ment and a real Jew­ish left that’s locat­ed in orga­ni­za­tions like the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, the Social­ist Work­ers Par­ty and the Social­ist Par­ty. And you can see that again in the 1960s. Stu­dents for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Soci­ety, which also had a very size­able Jew­ish mem­ber­ship, for­mal­ly backed anti-Zion­ism in the 1960s, along with the Social­ist Work­ers Par­ty, and formed alliances with the Stu­dent Non­vi­o­lent Coor­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee, which had also tak­en an offi­cial anti-Zion­ist posi­tion in the late 1960s. You could think about a glob­al rev­o­lu­tion­ary frame­work in which Pales­tin­ian lib­er­a­tion was an artic­u­lat­ed part — you could think about the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine and the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Orga­ni­za­tion as part of the fab­ric of glob­al rev­o­lu­tion­ary movements.

Today we’re in a much more frag­ment­ed space. On the same note, though, we’re see­ing the rebirth, or maybe con­ti­nu­ity, of Pales­tin­ian civ­il rights move­ments, with Pales­tin­ian civ­il soci­ety putting out a call for decol­o­niza­tion — both out of their own tra­di­tions of lib­er­a­tion, but also look­ing to mod­els from the South African free­dom strug­gle. For con­tem­po­rary Jews who are pro­gres­sive and see them­selves on the left, they’re sud­den­ly real­iz­ing that there real­ly is no cen­ter any­more, there is no lib­er­al Zion­ist posi­tion any longer. The cen­ter has real­ly fall­en away. And we’re faced with this very stark deci­sion: that either you’re going to be on the side of lib­er­a­tion, or you’re going to be on the side of the Israeli right, which has elim­i­na­tion­ist and geno­ci­dal intent that has always been there, but is naked­ly appar­ent now. And so I think peo­ple like Beinart are wak­ing up and say­ing, I don’t want to be on the side of the executioners.”

The his­to­ry of the old Jew­ish left and the new Jew­ish left of the 1960s shows us this isn’t new. Any lib­er­a­tion strug­gle is going to come from the oppressed them­selves, so the Pales­tin­ian lib­er­a­tion move­ment is going to set its terms for strug­gles. But for Jews in the Unit­ed States who are try­ing to think about their rela­tion­ship, not only to Pales­tine, but also their own place in the world as an his­tor­i­cal­ly per­se­cut­ed eth­no-cul­tur­al dias­poric minor­i­ty, we have to think of whose side we are on, and which glob­al forces we want to align with. If we do not want to side with the exe­cu­tion­ers of the far-right, with colo­nial­ism and with racism, there is a Jew­ish cul­tur­al resource for us to draw on — a polit­i­cal resource to draw on. This his­to­ry of the anti-Zion­ist Jew­ish left demon­strates that an impor­tant his­tor­i­cal role in a dias­po­ra has been sol­i­dar­i­ty with oth­er oppressed peo­ple. That’s the place from which we’ve gath­ered the most strength his­tor­i­cal­ly. So I look at this not as say­ing, We’re not going to repro­duce the Com­mu­nist Par­ty of the 1930s and 1940s.” We’re say­ing, We’ll pro­duce some­thing new, but the past can be a cul­tur­al resource that we can use today.”

Sarah: Who or what is respon­si­ble for the era­sure of this his­to­ry of Jew­ish, left anti-Zionism?

Ben­jamin: I wouldn’t blame the era­sure sole­ly on the Sovi­et Union or Zion­ism, because we also have to think of the Cold War and how the Cold War destroyed the old Jew­ish left, and real­ly drove it under­ground and shat­tered its orga­ni­za­tions. So I think we also have to see how the turn toward Zion­ism was under­stood as some­thing that would nor­mal­ize Jews in a post-war era.

With the exe­cu­tion of the Rosen­bergs, the Red Scare of the late 1940s and 50s, and the vir­tu­al ban­ning of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, which had been through­out the 1930s and 40s half Jew­ish, for much of the Jew­ish estab­lish­ment, align­ing them­selves with Amer­i­can impe­ri­al­ism was a way for Jews to nor­mal­ize their pres­ence in the Unit­ed States. And hope­ful­ly that moment has to some degree passed. We can see the empti­ness and bar­ren­ness of align­ing our­selves with an Amer­i­can impe­r­i­al project, with peo­ple like Bari Weiss and Jared Kush­n­er. Why would some­one like Bari Weiss, who describes her­self as lib­er­al, want to align her­self with the most reac­tionary forces in Amer­i­can life?

It’s a bloody matrix of assim­i­la­tion and white­ness that emerged out of the Cold War sub­ur­ban­iza­tion of the 1950s. Israel was part of that devil’s bar­gain. Yes, you can become real Amer­i­cans: You can go to good U.S. uni­ver­si­ties, you can join the sub­urbs, enter into the main­stream of Amer­i­can life, as long as you do this one lit­tle thing for us, which is back the Amer­i­can Empire. Hope­ful­ly, with the emer­gence of new grass­roots orga­ni­za­tions in the Unit­ed States, among Jews and non-Jews who are ques­tion­ing the U.S. role sup­port­ing Zion­ism, this cal­cu­lus can begin to change. With the rise of Jew­ish Voice for Peace, IfNot­Now, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ists of Amer­i­ca and the Move­ment for Black Lives all tak­ing a seri­ous stance against U.S. sup­port for Zion­ism, the com­mon sense in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty has begun to move in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly among the younger gen­er­a­tion. The bat­tle is very far from over, but it makes me just a lit­tle opti­mistic about the future.

Sarah Lazare is web edi­tor at In These Times. She comes from a back­ground in inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism for pub­li­ca­tions includ­ing The Inter­cept, The Nation, and Tom Dis­patch. She tweets at @sarahlazare.

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