Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ari Hoffman

The bad faith try to win the left? Which left?

Jonah Goldman Kay and Sylvie Rosen February 7, 2021

By JACK GUEZ/Getty Images

On Monday, Rudy Rochman, a bombastic, keffiyeh-wearing Zionist activist, will debate famed academic Noam Chomsky.

It’s a mismatched and bizarre pairing: a world-renowned linguist Noam Chomsky whose ideas on Zionism and the state of Israel have shaped leftist discourse for decades versus a glorified college activist whose works include the YouTube videos “Avatar Jewish Connection” and “Breaking Down Seth Rogen’s ‘Internalized Anti-Semitism.”

The fact that this event is happening at all demonstrates the unfortunate success of Rochman’s approach to activism, which stands in contrast to traditional Zionist advocacy. Organizations like the Jewish National Fund, AIPAC and the Zionist Organization of America have historically adhered to a limited ideology that has gone largely unchanged for 7 decades, one that sells Israel as a post-Holocaust bastion of security for the Jewish people and a perpetual underdog.

They see the role of American Jews as being to uncritically support Israel, both financially and politically.

And many of them still wrongly identify support of Israel as a shared issue with those on the left.

There was substantial support for Zionism on the American left around the time of Israel’s founding. (Actual it was the “left” movements in the colonial powers that supported Israel at its creation because the right wings were and are still racist and value apartheid policies)

But after the 1967 Six Day War, which saw Israel occupy the Golan, West Bank, Gaza and Sinai, Israel increasingly ran afoul of growing anti-colonial sentiment among those on the left.

But to more traditional American Zionists, it was not Israel that changed, but the left itself. Unwilling to adjust their ideas about Israel as it gained power, their arguments for unfettered support of the country increasingly failed to resonate with new generations growing up in a world where Israel was an occupier, not a victim.

Debate | Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic?Ari Hoffman and Joel Swanson April 19, 2020

Rochman represents a new approach: He is part of a growing wave of Zionist activists that aim to appeal to a younger audience by mimicking forms of activism that are already popular in leftist circles.

By blending historically leftist language about indigeneity and solidarity with the hasbara of clickbait Zionism, Rochman and his ilk have created a form of activism engineered to appeal to the liberal tendencies of a younger Jewish audience.

But Rochman’s ideology centers on the notion that Jews deserve a voice in discourse about indigenous rights, and that denying them that is antisemitic.

He claims that the Jewish people are indigenous to Judea, the Biblical name for part of what is today part of the state of Israel. He has stated that Zionism is the “most successful indigenous liberation movement that has ever existed.”

That position is a canny twisting of true Indigenous rights movements, which exist everywhere from Australia to the United States and seek to gain recognition for the suffering of native groups.

As in many places, the Palestinian cause centers around the issue of dispossession at the hands of European colonial powers — in their case, Britain’s decision to carve out part of Mandatory Palestine as a Jewish state (and pseudo-State of monarchic Jordan to become a buffer zone to Israel)

Zionism, on the other hand, echoed those European colonial movements.

This new face of American Zionism is deeply connected to the peculiar position of younger American Jews. American Jews aged 18-29 are substantially more “progressive” than their parents, particularly when it comes to Israel.

We witnessed the development of Rochman’s ideology and influence as his classmates at Columbia University. As leaders in left-leaning groups like J Street and IfNotNow, we watched as Rochman founded Students Supporting Israel, a group notorious for its almost comical pro-Israel antics, which included flying a plane over campus during Apartheid Week with a banner that read “HEBREW LIBERATION WEEK.” (Actually, J Street movement support excommunicating Jews who support divestment in West Bank).

One of Rochman’s earliest experiments with indigeneity discourse was his highly memeable “Indigenous People’s Unite” event, for which he brought together speakers from a variety of indigenous groups with the purpose of validating his belief that Israelis, or “Israelites,” as he referred to them, were indigenous to the Land of Israel.


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