The Big Bang Theory‘s Mayim Bialik on Friday took on anti-Zionist activist Linda Sarsour, an organizer of January’s Women’s March on Washington and the Women’s Strike, who argues that feminism and Zionism can’t possibly go together.
Last week, Sarsour told The Nation that if one identifies themselves Zionist they cannot be feminist, because Zionists necessarily ignore the rights of “Palestinian women.”
“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 said.
“Zionism is the belief in the right of the Jewish people to have an autonomous state in Israel,” Bialik retorted on her blog, Grok Nation, stating, “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. 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.
“Accusing Zionism of being incompatible with feminism is exceptionally short-sighted,” Bialik warned. “It smarts of a broad-stroke bias against the entire Jewish people for the violations that occur in a state that was founded on the principles of Zionism. That’s not good. Bad things happen when we paint with such a broad brush. It’s bigotry.”
“Ultimately, for a feminist activist – or any activist – to place the blame for policies made by a few people on the entire entity of Zionism and all who are committed to the idea of a Jewish state is irresponsible,” Bialik continued. “It’s disgusting, it’s insulting, and it’s wrong. It creates fragmentation in a movement that needs cohesion, needs to stand together for equality, domestically and internationally.
“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.”