Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Zionist Vs. Zionist

Zionist Vs. Zionist
Controversy breaks out within the Israel on Campus Coalition.

By Ari Paul
Web Exclusive: 01.04.07

Print Friendly | Email Article

A national pro-Israel campus group took a risk when several of its chapters brought former Israeli soldiers to their campuses to expose their country's military practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Now, it might be paying the price.

The Union of Progressive Zionists, some of whose chapters and affiliates brought the "Breaking the Silence" tour to places like the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Maryland, is a part of the Israel on Campus Coalition. This December, the 30,000-member Zionist Organization of America (an ICC member) sent a letter to the ICC demanding that the UPZ be removed from the coalition because of this tour. Other ICC members include the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). UPZ is an affiliate member.

The speaking tour, which was covered in the mainstream media, featured former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied Palestinian territories. The project has also interviewed former combat soldiers and has drafted testimonials of what goes on in the occupied territories. During the tour, participants also showed photos of what they considered excessive force and unethical military behavior.

This is a big problem for Morton Klein, the president of the ZOA. In reference to "Breaking the Silence," Klein maintains that when Israeli soldiers talk about the brutal things their military does to innocent Palestinians, they are only reporting isolated incidents and are painting an inaccurate, unfair picture. "Israel has the most humane army on earth," he says.

Klein's objections are strategic as well as substantive. The ICC, which is partnered with Hillel, aims to increase advocacy of Israel on American college campuses. It was launched in 2002, two years after the first intifada in Palestine broke out, when college groups critical of the Israel occupation started to become more vocal and better organized. To have events like this that align with some of the rhetoric in pro-Palestine groups, Klein warns, is a conflict. "This is not the mission of the ICC," he says.

The D.C.-based ICC is conducting an investigation and the leadership may hand down a decision regarding the UPZ's status at its meeting later this month. The ZOA will drop their demand that the UPZ be expelled from the ICC if their chapters cease bringing "Breaking the Silence" to campuses. And if UPZ is kicked out of the ICC, it will continue to operate as an independent organization.

Klein says his organization is dedicated to fighting what it calls anti-Israel biases in schools and in the media. He refers to the West Bank by the Biblical names, "Judea and Samaria," and doesn't consider them or Gaza to be places occupied by Israel, because they weren't an independent country before 1967.

Tammy Shapiro, the director of UPZ, thinks the ZOA has misinterpreted the message of "Breaking the Silence" and why UPZ chapters and affiliates brought it to their campuses. "We think that there is definitely a plurality of views in the coalition," Shapiro says. "Our students are doing this out of love for Israel." Zionism historically has been made up of a variety of ideologies, some religious and some secular, and the politics of Zionism run the gamut from left to right.

Shapiro believes that the ICC is supportive of her organization's cause, and is optimistic about its pending decision. "It doesn't look good for them to oust Zionist students," Shapiro says.

Pro-Israel groups have often been accused of chilling speech concerning the Middle East conflict. "My own experience of American Zionist organizations is that they are becoming increasingly intolerant and bullying," Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan and author of the blog Informed Comment, writes in an email. "So the UPZ is just being treated as everyone else is that does not toe the ZOA party line, which is: no criticism of Israel is allowed by anyone, ever, and where someone dares engage in it, they should be relentlessly marginalized and punished."

Shapiro values UPZ's affiliation with the ICC, even though it could operate independently. She believes the UPZ is the only Zionist campus group that can reach Arab students, because of things like "Breaking the Silence." She thinks the pro-Israel community needs that, as without them, Arab students would only interact with anti-Zionist groups. A group like the UPZ in the coalition enables dialogue between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine communities on campuses around the country, she argues, helping to achieve the goals and vision that the UPZ shares with the other members. If the ZOA has its way, it will have a chilling effect on speech and activity within the pro-Israel community. This case may be a big test for campus Zionism's dedication to real debate.

"As long as we believe in support for a Jewish and democratic Israel," Shapiro says, "we will not be outside the big tent they are trying to create."

Ari Paul writes frequently about politics and religion. His articles have appeared in In These Times, Z Magazine, and

* * *

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by

Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israƫl in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog

Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory