Can a Feminist be a Zionist? Yes!

This letter was written in response to an article that appeared in The Nation regarding zionism and feminism.

Letters to the Editor
The Nation

To the Editor:

My parents came to Israel from Morocco, a country where Jews and Muslims lived together in harmony for centuries. They instilled in me and my siblings a loving humanism that demands we treat people of different race, gender, and religion with equal respect. As an Israeli woman, I inhabit multiple identities—a Jew of Sephardi origin, a woman fighting for justice, a proud Zionist.

Sarsour questions whether one can simultaneously be a Zionist and a feminist. The history of the feminist movement, and the rich tradition of feminism within Israel, argues unambiguously “yes.” To claim that these movements are incompatible effectively erases the legacy of Jewish women’s involvement in feminism—of women who simultaneously hold dear a belief in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, and the reality of women and our allies who are fighting on behalf of women’s rights in Israel and elsewhere.

Feminism as a global movement is about liberation of women from all walks of life and claiming agency over one’s own life for equity of opportunity. This movement must be open to women of all identities if we are to stand together for our collective liberation.

Palestinian women undoubtedly have a place in feminism. However, the political litmus tests for what constitutes feminism can mislead and exclude. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and the respective societies which constitute that conflict—are far more complex than what is offered in the simplistic platforms that have recently been incorporated into social justice movements under the guise of “intersectionality.”

As an Israeli committed to fostering a more equal and tolerant society—one in which Arab, Druze, Bedouin, LGBT, secular and religious, and Jewish and Palestinian women have an equal place—I am proud to say that I am both a Zionist and a feminist.

Sincerely,

Carole Nuriel
Director, Israel Office
Anti-Defamation League