This is what I posted on Facebook, in response to various comments I received upon publishing this piece:
"My article on progressive Jews having to check their privilege has caused a few ripples. Many are defending Gold as a wonderful person. I do not know her, although of course I have a solid idea who she is. My piece does not in any way deny she is "progressive:" my article addresses progressives, not reactionaries. It does argue that, in the cases I wrote about, being "progressive" is not enough. It asks her not to normalize Zionism, by acting as if her right to visit and study in Israel should be undisputed, unquestionable--*even when it is crossing a picket line of a movement for Palestinian self-determination that she advocates.* It asks her not to exempt herself from restrictions and criteria that apply to others. When she acts upon the belief that certain restrictions don't apply to her, including hinting at making Aliyah, she is normalizing the Zionist concept that Israel is the homeland of all Jews. Zionism is racism, it is Jewish supremacy.
As to the Birthright walkouts, seriously, they need to grasp that all of Israel is "occupied Palestinian territories." The refugees in Gaza don't all want to return to Hebron."
I would also add that the intent behind a trip is absolutely critical. There are ways to use your privilege to advance the cause, without normalizing Zionism. In Gold's case, however, she seems more determined to defy the ban, than conform to the criteria of the movement she preaches.
Thank you, Phil, for this necessary analysis. My own piece was very much a "rushed transcript," I watched the panel online (audio was quite bad at times), jotted down notes, and within an hour or so I sent you my quick summary with just a few thoughts.
But I have been meaning to write a follow-up, in which I elaborate on the intense pressure Palestinian-rights organized continue to be subjected to, to always include a Zionist voice or two, "for balance," when Zionists don't get such pressure. I would also discuss the impulse to huddle in a "safe space," without opposing views, that beleaguered communities feel, and how this is now becoming standard among Zionists. But you took care of that.
Theo, the examples you give, of failed boycotts and sanctions, are examples where the boycotts were applied to people suffering under dictatorships. In such cases, the people are penalized, when they basically have nothing to do with their government's policies. Boycotts are not a blanket strategy that works everywhere. But they do work when they put pressure on people, to hold them accountable for the political choices they make, such as electing a white supremacist, or a leader who promises apartheid, or genocide (albeit under some other name). And they work when otherwise "powerless" people put pressure on companies or governments whose policies they disapprove of. They are often the agency of the disenfranchised, and history is replete with examples of their power, and their success.