During the 2010 U.S. Assembly of Jews, the following types of sessions and activities will be offered as part of the programming:
- Participatory educational presentations and workshops that are focused on topics such as the history of Zionism, the histories of anti-Zionist Jewish organizing, Mizrahi politics and identity, etc.
- Skill-building workshops focused on Jewish anti-Zionist organizing, campaigns, direct and creative actions, education, advocacy, and spiritual and cultural reclamation.
- The convening will include spaces for unstructured discussions that can be facilitated like meetings, but may not have a structured plan like workshops. These gatherings can be planned in advance, or may be scheduled spontaneously during the assembly. They may include:
a. Mizrahim & other Jews of Color
d. Environmental Justice
i. Academic activists
- Facilitated discussions and round tables that support the exploration and development of ideas and the sharing of experiences (i.e. a discussion about how we cope with families, friends or communities that are not supportive of our work, etc.).
- Major Sessions that provide opportunities for all participants to gather together around specific topics. The goal of these sessions is to build a shared picture of the conditions, state of the movement, visions and direction for building a strong anti-Zionist Jewish voice and force in the U.S.
In addition to these sessions, the following activities are planned:
- Art Exhibition
- Film series/screening room
- Collective mapping of anti-Zionist and other radical Jewish history
- Collective mapping of current anti-Zionist Jewish organizing
- Collective mapping of the current moment and actors
- Open meeting space
- And others that get suggested along the way!
Themes for Workshops and Workshop Submissions
Politics: History, Location & Analysis
a. Anti-Zionist Jewish organizing in support of grassroots Palestinian organizing in the United States and the Palestinian struggle for self-determination: Anti-Zionist Jewish organizing is part of the broader movement in solidarity with the Palestinian grassroots movement for self-determination. In addition to our own challenge to Zionism on the grounds of its historical and current betrayal of diverse Jewish people’s safety and ethical and political traditions, we confront Zionism for its devastating racism, colonialism, resource exploitation and consequent social and environmental destruction in the region. We therefore ask: how can we continue to centralize support for the Palestinian grassroots struggle while confronting Zionism on our own terms?
b. Confronting Zionism as part of Internationalism and Global Justice:. In the United States, Zionist and pro-Israel organizations and lobbies align with anti-immigrant, pro-war agendas that increase surveillance, incarceration, policing and political repression at home and further U.S. wars and violent campaigns abroad. Because Israel represents Western economic and political interests in the region and the world, Palestine is central to the global struggle against war, imperialism, colonization, capitalism and environmental destruction. In building a movement of anti-Zionist Jews we continue the long tradition of Jewish participation in struggles for human emancipation: we choose internationalism over exclusive nationalism, collective humanity over exceptionalism. This theme explores anti-Zionist Jewish organizing as part of broader movements for environmental justice, the rights of refugees, indigenous people and immigrants, prisoner solidarity, and against militarism, capitalism and war.
c. The role of the U.S. in supporting Israel and Zionism: The United States benefits from and is a partner in Israeli injustice, war, militarization, incarceration and racism.Israel enjoys unique political and military support from the United States; in exchange, Israel provides a basis of political and military power to exercise control over the broader region. In addition, Israel fuels the US economy through arms trade and provides “security”, surveillance and political services for the United States to protect its interest across the globe. These workshops will explore the changing relationship between the U.S. and Israel and the role of anti-Zionist Jewish organizing in confronting the military and prison industrial complex in and beyond the United States, and in ending U.S. aid to and political support of Israel.
d. Challenging Zionism, Challenging Racism
- Confronting Islamophobia and Anti-Arab racism: Zionism reflects and perpetuates not only racism against Palestinians, but anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. As part of the history of colonial racism, Zionist ideology and practice combines white racism and Jewish supremacy to justify the colonization of Palestine and the US-Israel agenda against Arab nationalism and Islam. In the United States, pro-Israel organizations and lobbies align with anti-immigrant, anti-terrorism and war agendas that result in detention and incarceration of Arabs and Muslims without due cause or trial, and attacks on political and humanitarian aid organizations and academics and political activists who dissent with the US-Israel agenda. Therefore, confronting Zionism is a central and necessary part of confronting all forms of racism in the United States. This theme will include campaigns in defense of individuals, families and organizations targeted by anti-terrorist laws and the Patriot Act.
- Mizrahi Jews Challenging Zionism: Zionism is responsible for the extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of African, Arab and Asian descent) from their diverse histories, languages, traditions, lands and cultures. Inside of Israel today, Mizrahim face discrimination and economic exploitation as well as the destruction and invisibility of their histories. This theme asks questions such as: How does or can radical Mizrahi organizing challenge Zionism? How do we in the US support Mizrahi anti-Zionists, and joint struggle between Mizrahim and Palestinians inside of Palestine?
- US Jews of Color Challenging Zionism: Inside of the United States, Jews of color often feel alienated from dominant European Jewish culture and political history and simultaneously, within communities of color, can feel alienated from their Jewish heritage. What opportunities for joint struggle against Zionism and other forms of racism are Jews of color distinctly positioned to advance? How does racism within Jewish social justice and Palestine solidarity activism contribute to the lack of involvement of Jews of Color?
- White anti-racism and Jewish anti-Zionism: Zionism is intertwined with other white supremacist ideologies. We invite presenters who will explore how Jewish anti-Zionist movement work today intersects with and complements current white anti-racist movement work. Understanding Zionism as a form of white racism, we will also discuss the implications for white Jewish people in challenging privilege and deepening our usefulness as allies in challenging racism. This theme is a place for discussions about power, and ways to limit the privileging of Jewish voices when doing anti-Zionist organizing, using examples of genuine solidarity.
e. Opposing Zionism, Promoting Gender Justice: This theme explores cross-movement building that links Jewish anti-Zionism with sex and gender liberation. This theme will also expose ways in which Zionism co-opts struggles for gender justice and queer liberation to promote anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment and support for Israel under the false claim of Israel as “the only democracy in the Middle East,”one that upholds the rights of women and queers. Workshops will discuss the need for anti-Zionist Jewish organizing to confront white, colonial feminist support of Zionism and US war in the region. Sessions will focus on participation of queer and gender justice movements in the call for BDS and against Israel’s attempts to promote queer tourism and host international pride celebrations. Workshops will also focus on opportunities for and barriers to solidarity with Arab and Muslim queer and women’s organizing against Zionism and racism in the U.S. and across Palestine.
f. Anti-Zionist Jewish Politics & Practice: Our Roots & Growing Movement: Where do we look for continuity in our rejection and confrontation of Zionism? This theme can include exploration of previous generations of anti-Zionist Jewish organizing and other historical precedents of our movement. What different forms does anti-Zionist Jewish activism and organizing take historically and today?
g. Working Class and Labor Opposition to Zionism: In this theme we will expose Zionism’s role in the upward mobility of Jews and their movement toward increasingly economic and politically conservative roles in US society, economy, and government. It will share the historical support of Zionism by anti-Semites, European governments and the ruling elite of 1900s Europe—a support based on not only hatred of Jews based on religion, racism and economics, but on the role of Jews in working class and revolutionary movements of its time. Finally, this theme will share the history of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis—including the breaking of an international boycott against the Nazis organized by Jewish working class movements. Sessions will focus on implications of this history for current organizing of Jews in Labor and against the current role of Zionism and Israel in global capitalism.
Strategy, Organizing & Movement Building
a. Building Alliances & Joint Struggle: Dismantling Zionism as part of broader movements for justice: Our anti-Zionist organizing is committed to challenging the ways in which Zionism reflects and perpetuates racism, class oppression, sexism and other forms of oppression. This theme will explore the meaning and practice of solidarity and joint struggle.
b. Anti-Zionist Jewish organizing in the BDS Movement and Beyond: How can Jewish anti-Zionists act as strategic partners in BDS work? What is Jewish-specific BDS work? What are anti-Zionist Jewish groups doing locally, regionally, and globally for BDS? This theme can include discussion of campaigns from Los Angeles, Twin Cities, the Bay Area, and beyond; and we will discuss anti-Zionist labor organizing to divest unions from Israeli bonds. We can also explore the relationship between the cultural boycott/ BDS campaigns and artists, and the specific roles and organizing work of artists and cultural workers supporting the BDS call.
c. Building a campaign against the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and other para-statal organizations, renouncing Aliyah and the Jewish Right of Return, and rejecting Jewish nationalism: At the core of Zionism is a concept of Jewish nationalism on which Israel and para-statal organizations like the JNF are able to confiscate land and property from Palestinians and hold it “in trust” for Jews living across the world. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has charitable status in over 50 countries, a status based on the JNF’s claim that it preserves and advances Jewish culture, community, civic and political participation, rights and safety. In reality, the JNF was created in 1901 for the purpose of colonizing Palestine through the acquisition and management of land for exclusively Jewish settlement. Today, it continues to play a central role in the violent colonization and occupation of Palestine, and is a key institution in maintaining Israeli apartheid. This session will provide education on the history and current function of the JNF and share campaigns being organized in the US and internationally against the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and other para-statal organizations, renouncing Aliyah and the Jewish Law of Return, and more.
d. Strategic Defense: In this theme we will be sharing and adopting principles, practices, strategies and processes for responding to the need to defend those that criticize Israel and Zionism. How can we prepare for backlash? Beyond preventing it from destroying our organizing, how do we use backlash to strengthen our organizing and use it against those who perpetrate it?
e. Unlearning Zionism: Sharing resources, study group syllabi, workshops and approaches that help us to challenge our own relationships to and training in Zionism and other forms of racism; we will share methods for deconstructing Zionism, and for learning about Palestinian resistance and anti-Zionist and other radical Jewish histo
f. Labor for Palestine: In this theme we will identify ways for our anti-Zionist Jewish organizing to support economic justice, including support for the labor movement mobilizations for unions to divest from Israeli bonds, for the boycott of Israeli shipments, and for breaking ties with the Histadrut—the labor Zionist organization of Israel.
g. Legal Action & Accountability: This theme will explore various forms of legal action in the United States and internationally being taken to hold Israeli war criminals, including military and government officials, accountable for their crimes against the Palestinian people. Sessions may include campaigns to uphold international law, the issuing of warrents by citizens and lawyers against visiting war criminals, and popular action such as disruption of events and/or citizen arrests.
h. Wrestling with Soft Zionism & Liberalism: What is our role in struggling with Jews who are critical of Israel but stay emotionally or politically committed to a Jewish State? What is our role in confronting Jewish and more general liberalism that avoids a rejection of Zionism and is unwilling to sacrifice privilege for justice? What are the ways we negotiate the impact of our anti-Zionist organizing on our relationships with our families and communities who may not agree or strongly object? This theme can include a discussion/planning session to strategize ways to effectively reach out to Jews who do other left political work, but who don’t currently reject Zionism.
i. Building effective anti-Zionist Jewish groups: This theme allows space for us to look at strategies of how we prioritize projects and campaigns, and how we internally structure our organizing efforts. We may discuss the methods of our organizing work, such as how and when we decide to protest Zionist events, how to expand our base, and what events inspire new participation. How are different kinds of anti-Zionist Jewish groups forming in different locations? What have been the successes of building these groups? What contributes toward consistent and growing participation in Palestine solidarity work and anti-Zionist Jewish organizing?
j. What is the relationship between Jewish Spiritual/Cultural Reclamation and Anti-Zionist Jewish Organizing? This theme can include examples of spiritual/political work that engages with questions about the relationship between spirituality and social movements. Discussions will also include how to create spiritual/ cultural events and spaces that are coherent with our political commitments, and political spaces that value and integrate our cultural and spiritual selves. How is social justice a practice of spirituality for many, and vice versa? How do we practice spirituality in ways that do not replicate the repressive function of organized religion and that strengthen our relationships to justice, wholeness, and humanness? How do we practice politics in ways that feed our spirits? In this theme, we can also discuss ways to be inclusive but not appropriative of different practices, including more traditional Jewish practice.
k. Student and Campus-based Organizing: This theme is about organizing on campuses, as students, academics, or staff in campus settings. We will discuss building campus BDS organizing, strategic defense for academics, allying with non-students on campus and surrounding communities, and other possibilities for students in the Palestine Solidarity Movement and for Jewish anti-Zionist student movement work.
Art, Cultural and Spiritual Reclamation
a. Taking Action to Make Action: Skills sharing on creative and direct actions that have impact, including spiritual rituals, cultural/art actions, guerilla art, production and distribution of propaganda, civil disobedience, and use of media. This theme can include report-backs of how the best actions are conceived, planned and enacted.
b. Breaking with Zionism while Keeping our Wholeness: What sacrifices do we make when speaking out about our anti-Zionist politics and ideals for a better more just world? What are the ways we negotiate the impact of our anti-Zionist organizing on our relationships with our families and communities who may not agree or strongly object? How do we find a relationship to Jewish social, cultural and historic continuity while breaking with the Zionism’s hold? How do we build anti-Zionist Jewish community and political home?
c. Anti-Zionist Jewish Spiritual Practice: This theme encompasses the range of how-to workshops and skills shares related to creating anti-Zionist rituals (seders, taschlich, etc.) throughout the year, and can include study and discussion related to traditional and secular Jewish texts (Torah, Talmud, Mishnah, radical poetry, song lyrics), from an anti-Zionist perspective.
d. Cultural Alienation and Reclamation: Explore the challenges of entering Jewish cultural spaces (theater festivals, literary readings, etc.) in North America as an anti-Zionist Jew; create/envision new anti-Zionist Jewish events and spaces; discuss the cooptation and exploitation of traditional Jewish cultures; discuss Jewish cultural continuity/resistance. What’s our vision, and what are our hopes for Jewish cultural expression in a non-Zionist future?
e. Mizrahi Jewish and Arab-Jewish Cultural Continuity How can we create an anti-racist Jewish movement that invokes the plurality of Jewish cultures and takes into account systematic racism against Mizrahi Jews today?
We are inviting submissions for educational and skill-building workshops, organizing meetings and round tables based on these and other themes. Click here for the CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS and SUBMISSION FORM!