At that Columbia University event the other night, Charney Bromberg began his speech with a personal statement: "I start from a different point of view… I’m not a classical Zionist, I’m a Zionist because I have family in Israel. I love them. Their well being is important to me."
I found this important and moving. I always say that I dodged the Zionist bullet because it just wasn’t part of my family culture. My mom’s best friend emigrated there, and that made a difference, but we didn’t visit; and we surely didn’t have family there. My family are not communitarians; they’re academic, offbeat. I was never implicated in the Zionist enterprise and I’m grateful for that.
A couple times I’ve asked Jewish journalists about their family connections to Israel and they haven’t answered me. I think these connections are legion–and may even have propelled some journalists to be journalists. One big editor has family living in a settlement; I learned about it at a party, he asked me not to publish his name.
Lila Abu-Lughod and Ali Abunimah had family who were expelled during the Nakba. They tell you this; it obviously helps to form their views too, they’re open about it.
I wish Jewish journalists would follow Bromberg’s lead and be open about their connections.
And what should follow? I can’t blame Charney Bromberg for feeling solidarity with Israelis because of that connection. What I do blame the Diaspora for is again and again deferring to their Israeli connections on critical questions, for saying, who am I to tell them not to blockade Gaza, they live there, I don’t! Deferring to a psychosis of insecurity bred of the Holocaust and a Likudnik policy of endless war.
People always talk about dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s an absurd process that would replace granting freedom to Palestinians. There should be open dialogue within the Jewish community. It should be between the Diaspora liberal Jews like Bromberg who put his life on the line during the civil rights movement and the Israeli Jews who call upon the American Jews to man the turrets of the Israel lobby and help them destroy Palestinian civil rights.