American Jewish actress Mayim Bialik published on Wednesday a refutation of anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour’s recently made claim that one cannot be a Zionist feminist.
“Zionism is the belief in the right of the Jewish people to have an autonomous state in Israel,” Bialik — a star in the CBS comedy series “The Big Bang Theory” and a distant relative of the late famous Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik — wrote on her GrokNation website. “I am a Zionist. Feminism is the belief that a woman-driven movement can bring about race, class and gender equality and that women deserve all of the rights and privileges afforded to men. I am a feminist.”
She continued: “There are Zionists who are critical of certain Israeli policies and those who are not; there are Zionists who are anti-occupation and there are Zionists who are pro-settlement; and there are Zionists who fall between these extremes. The definitions of Zionism and feminism are not in conflict with each other. At all.”
Bialik was responding to statements made by Sarsour — a Muslim Palestinian American from Brooklyn — earlier this week in an interview with The Nation.
“When you talk about feminism you’re talking about the rights of all women and their families to live in dignity, peace, and security,” Sarsour said. “It’s about giving women access to health care and other basic rights. And Israel is a country that continues to occupy territories in Palestine, has people under siege at checkpoints — we have women who have babies on checkpoints because they’re not able to get to hospitals [in time]. 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 herself was commenting on a New York Times op-ed penned last week by Emily Shire — the politics editor at the Bustle online women’s magazine — that was titled “Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?”
“Increasingly, I worry that my support for Israel will bar me from the feminist movement that has come to insist that feminism is connected to a wide variety of political causes,” Shire wrote. “More and more frequently, my identity as a Zionist places me in conflict with the feminist movement of 2017. I will remain a proud feminist, but I see no reason I should have to sacrifice my Zionism for the sake of my feminism.”
On Wednesday, Bialik said, “As a feminist Zionist, I can’t believe I am being asked to choose or even defend my religious, historical and cultural identity. The ‘left’ needs to reexamine the microscope they use to look at Israel, and we all need to take a step back and remember we are stronger together: women, men, lovers of peace, and lovers of freedom and justice.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner last week, leading American Jewish feminist Phyllis Chesler said the anti-Israel messaging promoted by organizers – including Sarsour — of the March 8th International Women’s Strike marked a continuation of a “poisoned propaganda effort” that began after 1967 Six-Day War.
“Liberal feminist Jewish women are being driven out of progressive movements, and this is very dangerous,” she stated.