Settling the debate: Zionism and feminism

Nader Durgham
Senior Staff Writer

There has been a recurring debate over the past few months on whether feminism and zionism are mutually exclusive or can easily coexist. The debate was ignited when Palestinian-American feminist and activist Linda Sarsour stated that one cannot claim to stand up for all women if they simultaneously omit the struggles of Palestinian women under Israeli occupation.

The interview sparked many debates between feminists themselves on the issue. Andrea Cantor, a Zionist contributor to the Huffington Post, retaliated with a piece which presented readers with counterintuitive arguments as to why feminism and Zionism are not only compatible but are also morally and ideologically contingent.

“Zionism is the belief that Jews have the right to a state, just as feminism is the right to equality,” she said. “But both definitions have been shanghaied by anti-Semitic and misogynistic rhetoric. This is where I realized that the ways in which people express anti-Zionism are very much alike to sexism.”

While Cantor tried to convince readers of her convictions with preposterous statements like this one, the loop holes in her arguments became salient.

To put it briefly: feminism is a movement based on the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes and empowerment of women.

Zionism, however, is a dogmatic ideology based on exclusion, bigotry, hate, and fanaticism. It is not simply the belief that “Jews have the right to a state”, but has consolidated itself in the mass murder, displacement, endangerment, and bloodshed of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians since 1948.

Even prior to that, Zionist ideology bread the creation of hate groups and terrorist organizations such as the Haganah group during the early 20th century which was set up to ensure that Arabs never reach any form of political power or validation within the British mandate. It expresses racist ideas regarding not only non-Jews, but non-Zionists as well.

Zionist ‘feminists’ like Cantor argue that both women and Jews were heavily discriminated against when each of the movements first appeared in response to societal and institutional discrimination. Cantor also used futile arguments as nugatory attempts to imply that the international focus on Israel is anti-Semitic.

Here, as it is a topic that causes the Israeli ear to turn deaf, it is important to note that anti-Zionism is different from anti-semitism. Anti-semitism is hatred and discrimination against all Jews of any kind while anti-Zionism only opposes the Zionist ideology. Not all Jews are Zionists, and considering any criticism of the state of Israel as anti-semitism is ideologically inconsistent.

It is clear that one cannot compare women fighting to end sexual harassment, implement equal pay, or obtain reproductive health rights to Israelis moving into an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian land. Feminism exists to protect women and reach a harmonic life between genders, while Zionism exists to impose superiority and spread fear and hatred between communities.

When Zionist celebrities such as Gal Gadot or Mayim Bialik identify themselves as feminists while supporting racial discrimination, mass murder, and active exclusion of Palestinians, the hypocrisy is crystal clear.

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