Lessons from debating an anti-Zionist
Mira Sucharov’s debate with Max Blumenthal is on CPAC.
In a previous blog post on haaretz.com, I discussed what appears to be an increasing chill factor in our Jewish communities. By way of example, I mentioned a then upcoming debate on the topic of whether Israel is and can be a “Jewish and democratic state” between prominent anti-Zionist Max Blumenthal and me, a liberal Zionist. Given the event sponsors (Independent Jewish Voices), many in the audience were primed for Blumenthal’s points – a scenario that makes supporters of Israel uneasy. But, unlike a “hasbarah” activist or a right-winger or even a centrist, we liberal Zionists tend to be both emotionally connected to Israel and critical of Israeli policies. So, on the heels of that event, here are some reflections on what happens when a liberal Zionist debates an anti-Zionist.
When it comes to Israeli democracy, liberal Zionists focus on what is possible. From the government actions of the day, anti-Zionists infer absolute limits.
There were times in the debate where, after I had addressed the central question, namely whether Israel’s Jewish and democratic character are mutually exclusive, Blumenthal would imply that we need to move away from pie-in-the-sky ideals and toward how things actually are. But, as with any experiment in nation building, I see Israel’s democracy as a work in progress. The contradictions need to be seen for what they are: temporary challenges to democracy, and requiring key legal reforms that Israel’s supporters and concerned citizens must continue to push for. Which brings me to my next point:
Read more at haaretz.com.