Hallel Silverman
Hallel Silverman
Proud Progressive Israeli
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Stop attacking the far left

Hearing blatant criticisms of Israel can be uncomfortable, but if we engage with level heads and open hearts, we can do some good and find common ground

Progressive Jews who support BDS or SJP are often acting in good faith. Unpopular opinion: I believe that we need to find our common ground — and when it comes to Israel, hear them out and engage in productive dialogue. Many of them fully stand behind the progressive causes that you and I full-heartedly support. And. When it comes to Israel, far-left progressive Jews genuinely believe they’re sticking up for the underdog. In many ways, they absolutely are. While I disagree with some of their approaches to Israel, I don’t accept that our communities as progressives are so disconnected — and I think it’s time we change this trajectory and reconnect with our fellow Jews and justice warriors.

We need to change our approach in response to the reality of their perspectives.

Yes. I recognize that the BDS movement does have direct ties to terrorists and blood money. But! Do the average #FreePalestine activists know let alone support that? Of course not. They’re being used in a very strategic, Jew-hating, and frankly frightening media war. Yet, the messages regarding Palestinian rights has taken on a meaning of its own, far removed from antisemitism. 

We need to change our approach in response to the reality of their perspectives. As the pro-Israel Jewish community, we must stop attacking the left-wing Jews, in American and beyond, who believe in the same social justice causes we hold dearly (yet see Israel in a different light). 

Engage with them, debate with them, educate them kindly — and hear them out! They have valid (albeit incredibly painful) truths. And. So do we!! It’s counterproductive to push away this group of engaged Jews when we could be connecting with and educating each other, through our reality living here in Israel and/versus the reality on the ground in America.

By listening and showing our willingness to hear, engage, and build bridges, we can create a comfort space for liberal Zionism as a collective whole.

We as a tribe already face enough hate and hardship. Antisemitism is soaring across the world, and all of us are suffering, in Israel and abroad. We need to ban together, supporting one another and finding ways to fight the growing acts of Jew hatred.

Yes, we might disagree on Israel. That might never change completely! Yet. By listening and showing our willingness to hear, engage, and build bridges, we can create a comfort space for liberal Zionism as a collective whole. We can be liberal AND we can be Zionists. Criticizing Israel’s failures and disagreeing on different Israeli policy nuances don’t disqualify us from collectively and openly agreeing on various progressive movements, from feminism to the importance of marginalized community rights. 

We are not uniformed boxes, but rather, complex organisms with diverse and individualized viewpoints. Let’s stop seeing the far left just for their criticism of Israel. Rather, as progressives, let’s embrace Jewish values across progressive causes. And, with Israel, let’s not shy away from hard conversations — but also, let’s not let one sensitive topic define our entire trajectory as Jewish progressives working towards a better tomorrow. 

Let them see that we are not less liberal for being Zionists. Instead, let’s join arms and be progressive together, welcoming one another warmly as fellow progressives. 

I remember growing up, my father would always tell you “You catch more bees with honey,” and sure enough, in 2018, Forbes released a piece outlining how science has proven kindness to be a competitive advantage. 

A study in Scientific American found that kindness and the ability to empathize with others, is in decline among college students back in 2011. Duh. And that affects our health, clearly shown across the countless reports of increased depression, loneliness, and unhappiness so prevalent among campus culture today. I also see it poisoning liberal Zionists towards other Jews who are so supportive of the causes we care about. So let’s change methods. So let’s have the uncomfortable conversations and the awkward silences. It’s hard and pushes against our comfort zone to hear blatant criticisms of Israel. But let’s engage with a level head and an open heart. And let’s do it from kindness, understanding, vulnerability, and mutual respect. Then let’s move on to the bigger picture.

We are better together. The global disconnect over absolute thinking (left vs right, Israel/Palestine, us/them) can’t be what takes down the Jewish people after thousands of years.

About the Author
Hallel Silverman is an American born, Israeli raised digital activist located in Tel Aviv. With nearly a decade in Israel Advocacy, Hallel has created and executed content for dozens of major organizations, and has been a leading voice online for progressive Zionism. She is an associate at the Tel Aviv Institute, and one of the Top 50 Digital Israel Influencers of 2021.
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