Zionish: What’s in the Name?

Zionish wants to break the restrictive parameters placed on debate on Zionism, Israel, and Palestine.

We want to open the discussion on Zionism beyond the simplistic narratives and concepts that dominate our Jewish communities. We want to fundamentally change the view that to be Zionist means to only hear one side of the story, to shout over any dissent, and to uncritically buy every Israeli government line.

We want to challenge the idea that Zionism is defined by unquestioning support of every Israeli policy and wilful blindness to every Israeli flaw. We believe Israel’s problems are to be engaged with, rather than ignored.  We are willing to point out both the rights and the wrongs of Israel in the hope and aspiration that we can fight for a better and more just situation in Israel and Palestine.

We absolutely reject that voicing criticism of Israeli policy and the occupation makes one automatically anti-Zionist, working against the interests of the community. In fact, we argue the very opposite.

We want Zionism to be based on a re-engagement with Zionist theory and the meaning of Israel. We want to reverse the trend where Zionist thought has been reduced into shouting about Intel Core Processors and Tel Aviv beaches. We want Zionism to be about what vision we want for Israel. The Jewish community is long overdue a debate about what we want the Jewish State to actually look like, and what values it should embody.

We also want to open the discussion on Zionism in our student communities. Any discussion on Zionism is dominated by those for whom Zionism is synonymous with oppression and apartheid. Debate is forbidden and anyone who dares deviate beyond the prescribed perspective are intimidated and excluded by their fellow students. We want our student communities to be full of open, honest, and critical debate on Zionism, Israel and Palestine, rather than the aggressive and hostile conversation that currently dominates.

We want to challenge the doctrine of the student debate, and the prevailing conceptions of what Zionism is.  We want to argue Zionism is more than one long apologia for occupation and colonialism, and that there are a multiplicity of narratives that deserve attention in the pursuit of peace and justice in the region. We aim to challenge the conspiracism and  selectivity in student debate on Israel and Palestine.

We also want our fellow students to consider the fact that Zionism is no monolith, and that there are many Zionists who share their anger and fears about the status quo. These voices should be engaged with rather than ignored, or silenced.

We will fight the anti-Semitism that rears its ugly head in debate, and fight even harder attempts to legitimate it.

And so we created Zionish. The name is intended to be subversive. We named our publication Zionish because we seek to challenge the dominant conceptions of what it means to be Zionist. We hope those on both sides of the debate will listen.