Not My Feminism

Who decided that feminism and anti-Zionism should be conjoined and expressed through actions such as support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanction Movement (BDS) movement? Two feminists offer another perspective.

Janet Freedman (left); Dr. Ruth Nemzoff

Both of us have​ ​years of experience as successful feminist organizers.​ We resist the notion that it is necessary to declare oneself anti-Zionist to be pro-Palestinian. We do not support that idea any more than we believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has no room for police safety as some detractors charge. We believe feminism requires us not to deprecate, but to analyze.

Campaigns against Israeli policies such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions forbid intellectual exchanges, and this is antithetical to feminism. BDS directs feminist energy away from finding ways to a peaceful solution that respects the humanity of both Israelis and Palestinians. It oversimplifies, using terms such as decolonization and anti-imperialism and other tropes, usually without definition or explanation, and often distorts actual history. BDS resolutions are equated with a pledge of solidarity with Palestine, while placing those who oppose that strategy in the enemy camp, assumed to be opposed to justice and even made the objects of scorn and vitriol.

If the intent is to bring Israel to negotiations for peace, BDS is counterproductive. The current Israeli government, unlike previous coalitions, cites BDS to support positions and policies that will not promote peace. It has been joined by many on the political right within the U.S. The Palestinians, too, hold fast to positions and policies inimical to peace. Our response to feminists is to resist polarization and to redouble efforts that have made progress toward increasing communication and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, including camps, high tech programs, and joint economic initiatives and to encourage further such efforts. We seek partners in these endeavors within the Jewish and Arab world.

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