Exiting Zionism – a former Israeli’s awakening

This is my presentation at the Kairos Puget Sound Coalition Seattle 7th Fall Conference, which was held online on Saturday, October 23rd 2021. You can download the talk here and some accompanying slides here. (I didn’t use the slides in my talk but you might find them useful as you read the talk in your own time).

My gratitude to Huda Giddens and Ann Marchand for the kind invitation to speak at the conference and to all who have attended.

An obituary for Sheldon Adelson by a former Israeli

is my newest article published on Mondoweiss, 14th of January 2021 in response to the news about Sheldon Adelson’s death.

Over the years I have published a number of articles about Palestine. As you go through them you can probably get a sense of the shifts in my thinking and my evolution towards becoming an anti-Zionist. The titles of articles are often not chosen by me but by the people who publish them.

List of past articles & links 

What Peace Really Means to Israelis

The Electronic Intifada. 20 January 2005 —  This is an article I wrote in early 20015 after my last visit to Israel which was in late 2004. I share some of my observations of what I perceived as the mindset on the street, what ordinary people were thinking and saying.

The Power of Belief and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Electronic Intifada. 29 June 2005 — This was my reaction to my early encounters with fanatic Zionists (are there any other type really?) who react hysterically and vilify anyone who supports the Palestinians. I am much more experienced these days and am not emotionally affected by any of this. But back then it was all new… At the time I still used words like ‘conflict’ in my writing but I don’t do this any longer. See my more recent article on the Israeli Language Trap on Mondoweiss.

Israel’s uglier face reared towards its PalestiniAn citizens

The Electronic Intifada. 17 November 2005 — This article about the status of the Palestinian citizens of Israel was inspired by Susan Nathan’s painful, well-researched and well written book, The Other Side of Israel. Israel likes to argue that the Palestinians who are citizens of the state of Israel enjoy equal rights, but nothing can be further from the truth. Nathan’s book is just as important and valid today as it was when it was originally published. In 2010 Susan kindly agreed to contribute to my edited book, Beyond Tribal Loyalties.

How many more rallies will it take?

The Electronic Intifada. 22 July 2006 — By 2006 I was a seasoned speaker at rallies all over the place. Rallies lift the spirits and make us feel that we are expressing ourselves and are among friends and supporters. They can be very nourishing to the weary activist. As a relatively new activist however, I overestimated how effective rallies are to change things. I think I was naive enough to believe that change was just around the corner because we were out in the streets with our signs and our speeches. I was and still am impatient about change. If something is blatantly wrong, why does it take so long to change it?…

The Israeli police state

The Electronic Intifada. 9 July 2007  — When I wrote this article I was angry. My ex-husband, Ian, paid good money to pay a short visit to my brother and his family in Tel Aviv. Upon arriving at the airport he was given the ‘royal treatment’… I can’t say that it was because of me. It is quite possible it was just another one of those examples of how arrogant and haughty Israel can be towards people who enter the country. I thought at the time that it was a good opportunity to air some more dirty laundry about Israel. This article struck a chord in its time and was translated to a number of languages.

A Change Needs to Come

The Electronic Intifada. 25 May 2008 — This article was inspired by Ali Abunimah who visited Canberra and gave a talk at a dinner organised by our local activist group.

Survival instinct or Jewish paranoia?

The Electronic Intifada. 19 January 2009 — This article was inspired by Ali Abunimah who visited Canberra and spoke at a dinner organised by our local activist group.

Happy Hanukkah? Thanks, but not for me

Mondoweiss. 10 December 2012— When I was a child, I mindlessly enjoyed some of our holidays. Why wouldn’t I? We never learned to question or doubt anything. I know there are Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews but their objection to Zionism bothers me because it isn’t based on any outspoken critique of Jewish identity myths. I am thinking of the stories of Samson, the Scroll of Esther, the comprehensive genocide committed by Joshua in Canaan, etc… I was reminded the other day that there is a symbolic spilling of red wine (as blood) during the Passover Seder to remember the suffering of the Egyptians as a result of the ten plagues. This is a good step in the right direction. But it’s too small, hidden away in the big ceremony of the Seder, and it is definitely not enough. It has been too easy for Zionism to hijack Jewish religion for its own purposes but that’s because the religion itself is problematic and does not make it particularly difficult. There is a lot that needs to be questioned and reevaluated and I do not believe that Jewish religion should be above discussion or questioning.

Oppression by consensus in Israeli ‘democracy’

Mondoweiss. 3 February 2014 — This article was in response to a story about a school girl that ‘told’ on her teacher because she thought he was teaching things he should not have been teaching. It blows the cover on Israeli ‘democracy’. Even those who are critical of Israeli democracy (because it is only reserved for Jewish Israelis) often don’t realise that Israel exists with a strong culture of oppression and suppression of views that are not acceptable because they differ from the state’s official narrative. Israeli democracy isn’t. But this is a cautionary tale for other countries too. Is there or not, freedom of speech? What is an accepted narrative and who enforces the rules on what is ‘permitted’ to be taught at school or discussed in the media?

Netanyahu won. Now what?

Mondoweiss. 18 March 2015 —I knew Netanyahu would win, and incidentally I also predicted Trump’s victory. (You can ask my partner about our bet…) I know people like to think of this or that leader as a villain and these two definitely are. But our problem is not the leaders but those who choose to vote for them and carry out their orders. Leaders are not an aberration, but an expression of a society, regardless of whether it is run on democratic or non-democratic principles. Yes, you are hearing correctly. I am saying we are all responsible for the leaders we nurture to take over positions of power. Certainly in Israel, you must understand that the government well and truly represents the people. Israel is a country run by consensus and the general consensus, right or left, is that Zionist settler-colonailim in Palestine is justified for the survival fo the Jewish people. The only difference between the two ‘sides’ is in how crass they happen to be about what they are doing. But being a little bit more refined or sophisticated does not change the overall ideology, only its image. In many ways it’s good that Netanyahu and Trump are in power. They show up their societies for what they really are, racist, ruthless, selfish entitled settler-colonial countries created on the corpses and suffering of indigenous people.

The Palestine-Israel language trap

Mondoweiss. 19 August 2016 — I wrote this article after a very inspiring conference on Israeli Settler-colonialism in Palestine organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) in Edinburgh. I used to be trapped by the same language I refer to in the article. It was easy to do when I didn’t understand the complexities of how perpetrators control not only the narrative around their crime but the very language used.

Why I left the cult

Mondoweiss. 19 October 2016 — I finally named Israel by its proper name, a cult…

What’s wrong with colonialism?

Mondoweiss. 17 January 2018 —We need to start naming what is going on in Palestine for what it really is. Zionism is a settler-colonial movement and Israel is its goal and product. It is not ‘complicated’ and there are no ‘two sides’, unless of course you actually believe that settler-colonisers have a valid point of view, or a justification for what they are doing. I don’t.

I’d much prefer an honest Zionist to a ‘liberal’ one

Mondoweiss. 24 September 2018 — This is a blogpost turned published article.

It’s about how I don’t like so-called ‘liberal’ Zionists who think of themselves as good people who feel for those who suffer.. They refuse to admit the truth which is they essentially support Jewish Zionist settler-colonialism and what it has been doing to the indigenous people of Palestine. When it comes to the Palestinians and to Israel all that concern for their fellow human beings evaporates. They don’t admit openly their belief that everything is permissible in the name of the survival of *their own* people. Instead, they speak about Zionism in fictitious terms partly probably to try to ease their own cognitive dissonance. But when they do that it is just wicked and obscures the truth for everyone else who isn’t so well informed but is inclined to listen more to the nicer people in society. By so doing they also help Israel hide and cover up its crimes. They are a type of collaborator but one that pretends it is not.

I prefer people who tell the truth, whatever it happens to be. It means that I know where I stand with them and what I need to do.