Zionism, Feminism, and Where They Intersect. | Yael Friedman – The Times of Israel

Posted By on January 28, 2020

As someone who believes in equality, and that it should apply to everyone, I have found myself time and time again supporting, promoting, and finding the intersections of Zionism and Feminism.

By definition, Zionism is the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that espouses the re-establishment of and support for a Jewish state in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel. Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. These two often radical terms essentially mean that the Jewish people deserve a homeland and that women deserve equality.

It is baffling and somewhat unbelievable that these two movements are still necessary 72 years after the establishment of the state of Israel, and 100 years after women were granted the right to vote. Antisemitism is the hostility to, or prejudice against Jews as a religious or a racial group. It is the modern version of one of the oldest known hatred, Judeophobia which can be traced back to the beginning of Judaism itself. The Holocaust/Shoah is its most extreme example, but antisemitism has resulted in attacks on Jewish people as well as Jewish places. Today, attacks are increasing significantly, from 751 attacks in 2013 to 1,879 acts in 2018, including the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on Jewish people in a US territory in the United States history. The Jewish people have been through expulsions from their homeland as well as other countries, pogroms in Europe, the Shoah/Holocaust which resulted in the death of more than 6 million Jews alone, violent antisemitic attacks worldwide, and more. Yet, they still have yearned for their homeland and fought for the creation of the state of Israel. Zionism is that fight. Even after having been through so much hatred, the world is appalled that the Jewish people have the audacity to demand the same rights that other people are granted. A state where we are safe and treated as equals. But hate, discrimination, and demonization is still rearing its ugly head, and these two groups feel the impact in schools, the workplace, and even in the streets, where acts of antisemitism and sexism are reaching unfathomable highs. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), reported that in 2018 there was a notable increase in physical assaults on K-12 and college campuses. A year after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, 300 students came together at the ACT-Pittsburgh Assembly to learn about combating anti semitism on college campuses. Afterwards, the TellYourStoryNow campaign launched in order to give students that have experienced antisemitism first hand, the chance to tell their story. The campaign is meant to help show just how often and diverse antisemitic occurrences are happening now on college campuses nationwide.

Sexism is a prejudice or discrimination based on a persons sex or gender. Sexism can affect anyone, but it primarily affects women and girls. It has been linked to stereotypes and gender roles, and may include the belief that one sex or gender is intrinsically superior to another. The fight for womens equal rights is not a new one. From fighting for the right to vote 100 years ago, to 2017 with the widespread #MeToo, a movement to empower women to break the silence against sexual harassment and assault. The hashtag went viral very quickly as many celebrities made posts to show not only the extent of the problem but also that there is strength in numbers.

Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. In simpler terms, it is where different parts of your identity meet and overlap. For me, two of those include being a Zionist and being a feminist. As a feminist, I see the Womens March is powerful, empowering, and driven. Even after fighting for the right to vote, for equal pay, and justice for silenced sexual assault victims, the feminist movement has banded woman together, but has not been as inclusive as its definition would suggest. As a Zionist, I stand for the equality of both Jews and Women, since I want them to be self-reliant for their own safety, success, and happiness. Perhaps that is where the issue stems from, true equality is seen as radical, threatening, and upsetting to the natural order of things which is a convenient way for those who have the power to keep it.

Antisemitism and sexism are very real and very personal issues that I deal with on a very regular basis. I have been on the receiving end of this hate and discrimination. As a woman this can mean small things like not being offered to pay the check at the end of a meal or larger issues like getting sexually harassed at work by a customer. As a Jew this could mean being told antisemitic jokes about baking jews or it could mean a fellow student harassing and threatening to kill all the Jewish girls with violent threats, antisemitic slurs, and the use of nazi propaganda and imagery.

The intersection of Zionists and Feminists should be a no brainer. I am someone who believes in equality, and that equality should apply to everyone. Zionism and feminism are the same fight for different groups of people, so the people that fight for womens rights should also be fighting for the rights of the Jewish people.

Yael is a Jewish Israeli who has lived in America for most of her life. She is a fellow with StandWithUs, interns with her Hillel, a Social Justice major at West Valley College, and works part time at a private Jewish day school. When she is not advocating for Israel she enjoys knitting, nature photography, and going on road trips.

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Zionism, Feminism, and Where They Intersect. | Yael Friedman - The Times of Israel

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