I am a young, gay, left-wing Jew. Yet I am called an “apartheid-enabler,” a “baby killer” and a “colonial apologist.”
Mr. Flayton is a sophomore at the George Washington University.
As a gay abortion rights advocate and environmentalist, my place in such circles has always been welcomed and accepted.
Well, until now.
As a sophomore at the George Washington University, whose student government last year passed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) proposal, I now find myself pushed to the fringes of a movement I thought I was at the heart of, marginalized as someone suspicious at best and oppressive at worst. This is because I am a Zionist. It is because I, like 95 percent of American Jews, support Israel.
Before I arrived on campus, I could proudly say that I was both a strong progressive and a Zionist. I didn’t think there was a conflict between those two ideas. In fact, I understood them as being in sync, given that progressives have long championed the liberation movements of downtrodden minorities. I viewed — and still view — the establishment of the state of Israel as a fundamentally just cause: the most persecuted people in human history finally gaining the right of self-determination after centuries of displacement, intimidation, violence and genocide. For me, this remains true even as I oppose the occupation of the West Bank. It is my Zionism that informs my view that the Palestinian people also have the right to their own state.
But my view is not at all shared by the progressive activist crowd I encountered on campus. They have made it abundantly clear to me and other Jews on campus that any form of Zionism — even my own liberal variant, which criticizes various policies of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and seeks a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is a political nonstarter. For this group at my school, and similar groups on campuses and cities around the country, Zionism itself is, to parrot the Soviet propaganda of several decades ago, racist. And anybody who so dares to utter the words “right to exist” is undeniably a proponent of racism.
Given that almost all American Jews identify as “pro-Israel,” even as the majority of us are also critical of Israeli government policy, this intolerance affects huge numbers of young American Jews. I am one of them.