What Linda Sarsour Actually Seems to Have Said about Feminism & Zionism

linda sarsour.jpg

Chaya Halberstam has pointed this out on FB, but I want to raise it here. An article in the Times of Israel states that, according to Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour, feminism and Zionism “do not go together.” She says no such thing in the TOI article, which you can read here, nor in the interview at the Nation which is the basis of the TOI report and which you can read here. The Nation headlines “Linda Sarsour says no,” you can’t be a Zionist and a feminist. But where’s the language? As Halberstam points out, her language was less sweeping. The problem isn’t Zionism per se. About Zionism, her cited remarks in these two pieces are agnostic. It’s hard to see where the problem is. Perhaps Sarsour has expressed more extreme remarks elsewhere and in the past. Others in “the movement” certainly have, but not her here.

Usually in these kinds of statements by activists for Palestine, special attention is given to attacking “liberal Zionists.” There’s none of that spite here. For Sarsour, the problem is not Zionism per se, which many of liberal and progressive Jews continue to support and for which many of us continue to hope. The problem for her is with right wing Zionists who target Palestinian-American activists, with those who identify as Zionists but who won’t work to secure the rights of Palestinian women living under occupation (the examples are all to women living in the West Bank), with those who identify as Zionists and who do not criticize Israel. From the standpoint of liberal or progressive Zionism, the particular language attributed to Sarsour is perfectly compatible. No, you cannot support or ignore the occupation and the racism and call yourself a liberal or a progressive, or a liberal or progressive Zionist. I’m okay with that language and would get behind it.

Judge for yourself. Here’s what I grabbed from the TOI:

“It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour also said that Palestinian-American women in social justice movements cannot be as visible as other women because they are the target of unspecified attacks from “right-wing Zionists.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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2 Responses to What Linda Sarsour Actually Seems to Have Said about Feminism & Zionism

  1. milx says:

    Nitpicking but equally true would be the statement “Is there room for people who support Palestine and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinian/Israeli, or none. There’s just no way around it.” For all I know she agrees with this sentiment.

  2. molly barnett says:

    What gibberish!

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