White privilege dilemma in American Zionism

I would consider myself a proud Zionist. In the past, I’ve worked with multiple organizations such as Standwithus and FIDF to proudly show my love for Israel. But I won’t be attending AIPAC’s annual policy conference because of the unobscured, conspicuous privilege and nepotism in American Zionism that has veered those unbeknownst to the nuances in Israeli politics and statehood to become a part of organizations such as Boycotts, Divisions, and Sanctions out of anger instead of truth.

My school has a very specific method to appoint delegates for the policy conference. Each student fills out an application where they state their motivation to attend Israel and well as their own knowledge on a certain topic, such as Hamas or Trump moving the American embassy to Israel. A writer cannot assess their own work, but I wrote based upon prior knowledge garnered from my years as a journalist and I think I composed a quality application.

But on January 2, 2019, my high school emailed back informing me that I was not selected as a delegate. I was perplexed that many other students who had objectively achieved less in the Israel Advocacy field were selected. In retrospect, I wouldn’t be able to afford the fees related to the trip. A fee of one thousand dollars was required for any student appointed as a school delegate. Many students selected were members of families who give donations to the school or siblings of those on the student board.

White privilege tends to be highlighted by a plethora of liberal advocates. Many have also dutifully noted that “white privilege” can be reigned for positive resources.“Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege,” Bell Hook writes. “We have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” Whether or not one disagrees with this statement, the juxtaposition of those with resources to venture into any field with a comfortable cushion remains prominent.  

I think that my school’s exclusivity on its AIPAC policy conference trips serves as a paradigm for the privilege prevalent in American Zionism, and its contrast to the reality of Israel. Wholly unappealing nepotism and exclusivity in the realm of America’sIsrael advocacy remains. When those born into the top ten percent of the population ask those to observe Israel without accepting those without as much privilege, the message seems phony. These same privileged students shell out thousands of dollars for pampered summer programs and pretend to know Israel in the same way as those fighting on the forefront.Obviously, Israel is important. But when it becomes an issue attached to elitism, it becomes wholly unappealing to the masses. 

About the Author
Sarah Nachimson is a high school student from Los Angeles, California. She is an author, journalist, poet, and political advocate.
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