Friends and Fellow Zionesses,
Many of you have asked similar questions as the Zioness Movement has launched and gotten off the ground. We are so grateful for your questions, your suggestions, and most importantly, your support. Your response has been inspiring and overwhelming. It has made it clear that there is a critical need for this Movement.
In an attempt to make sure that the answers to these "FAQs" are clear and accessible, we decided to write this statement, which will remain available on our website. Please feel free to keep other questions coming, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or over email at about@Zioness.org, and we will do our best to answer them as quickly as we can.
A quick note: Those now smearing Zioness are doing so out of fear. The movement has clearly hit a nerve - and those who oppose Jewish self-determination (i.e. Zionism) are lashing out in an attempt to divide you, proud, fearless, progressive Zionesses, from us, other proud, fearless, progressive Zionesses, because they fear what we can accomplish - together. The narrative that Jews and Zionists cannot be progressive, cannot be feminist, and cannot stand up proudly for social justice issues for every human being, is what keeps us from standing proudly as Jews and Zionists. No longer will we accept the false choice between being a progressive and being a Jewish Zionist. No one can force us to choose between our inherent identities as progressives and Zionists. No one can force us to abandon our support for the safety and security of Israel, the national homeland of the Jewish people, in order to fight for social justice. That narrative is divisive, it is exclusionary, and, ultimately, it is bigoted. We must stand against it, strong and proud for who we are and what we believe in, and also stand shoulder to shoulder with all other marginalized peoples and groups to fight for human dignity, social justice and equality for us all. This is the context in which Zioness was born.
Please: Do not believe the lies. Do not let them divide us. We are stronger together. And that's exactly what they're afraid of.
Is this movement sincere? Who is Amanda Berman, what is The Lawfare Project, and who else is leading Zioness?
Amanda Berman is an attorney and the Director of Legal Affairs at The Lawfare Project, a career she loves, fighting the legal battle to protect and defend the civil rights of the Jewish people. Those who know her, know that she has been a vocal proponent of civil rights, human rights, and social justice, since she could talk (well, argue). Amanda came from a left-leaning political family from outside Philadelphia, where her mom ran for state representative (as a Democrat, of course!) When her mom's opponent smeared her with vile lies, her mom refused to go low, and lost the race because of it. Then she was tapped by Governor-elect Ed Rendell to run the Governor's Office of Citizen Service (PennSERVE), where she traveled the state for 10 years allocating federal AmeriCorps grants to essential programs like City Year and Teach for America. With her mom as her mentor, Amanda worked on various other Democratic campaigns, helping send Pennsylvania Judge John Younge to the bench and Paul Drucker to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She then went to law school as a Public Service Scholar, where she served on the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, providing legal services to the underrepresented; the Advanced Human Rights Clinic, providing legal services to immigrants and refugees; the Executive Board of the Cardozo Advocates for Battered Women; and as a Fellow in the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Clinic.
Amanda co-founded Zioness with some friends after months of discussion about the pervasive division in the progressive movement. Zioness is independent and distinct from her work at The Lawfare Project - although she certainly feels that her work fighting for Jewish civil and human rights is consistent with her work as a progressive Zionist activist who fights for the civil rights of all other marginalized communities, as well.
Amanda believes, at her core, that every human being is entitled to equality and human dignity - but she is not willing to deny that same inalienable right to the Jewish people, who have fought for millennia, in the face of persecution, exile, and genocide, to find liberation, self-determination, and empowerment in our ancestral homeland: Zion. For Amanda, Zionism is a progressive value, and believes that we have every right -- and in fact, an obligation -- to seize on our own history and experience to advance civil rights and social justice for all others.
How does Zioness define Zionism? Where does the movement stand on various Israeli policies, and on Palestinian self-determination?
After much reflection, Zioness has decided not to take any official positions on any of the politics or policies of the State of Israel. We are not here to define your Zionism, or anyone else's. We are here to be inclusive, to bring progressive Zionists together and empower our community to be active in progressive movements, which is something that many of us have felt was a difficult endeavor -- until now. Of course, members of Zioness take a variety of positions on hot button political topics relating to Israel, and we don't want to define ourselves by the 2% on which we may disagree, instead of the 98% on which we agree. No matter what your positions are, if you believe that, politics aside, the Jewish state has a right to exist in safety and security; and if you believe that all human beings deserve dignity, equality and the protection of their inalienable human rights, the Zioness Movement welcomes you with open arms. Come and join us anytime - we are sure that you will feel in good company!
How is Zioness funded? And how can I help?
Zioness is just six weeks old. We have been grateful for the generosity of a few friends who have helped us cover t-shirts, posters and other marginal costs associated with launching the Movement. However, we cannot continue without further assistance from you, our supporters. Please purchase a t-shirt from our website (https://www.zioness.org/shop). We will soon have the ability to accept a tax-deductible contribution from you as well (stay tuned). While we consider our future plans, we need your help to continue fighting this crucial fight. We can't wait to see you at our next event.