Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

Zionist Feminist: Not An Oxymoron

In a New York Times op-ed, “Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?,” Emily Shire writes that she is “troubled by the portion of the International Women’s Strike platform that calls for a ‘decolonization of Palestine’ as part of ‘the beating heart of this new feminist movement.’”

Shire concludes her piece by noting that she does not believe she needs to pick one belief or the other: “I will remain a proud feminist, but I see no reason I should have to sacrifice my Zionism for the sake of my feminism.” But she writes that she “not certain there is” a place for pro-Israel feminists in the women’s strike.

Shire’s piece speaks to a larger predicament: Many Jewish women, myself included, identify as feminist and Zionist. Explicitly anti-Zionist stances woven into mainstream feminist platforms — a phenomenon that, as Shire notes, extends beyond the upcoming strike — pose an intersectional obstacle to feminist activism. This is an issue Jewish women face, but that doesn’t pose much of a problem for men, or non-Jewish women. How can feminism be “inclusive” if Jewish women who care about the Jewish state are unwelcome?

I believe it’s possible to support the larger mission of the strike — drawing attention to the value of women’s labor — without endorsing (and indeed, while challenging) all specifics of its platform, or all views (or histories) of individual organizers. Those on the left should show up even at events that make us uncomfortable. But I can well understand — particularly, in this case, given organizer Rasmea Yousef Odeh’s terrorist past — why others who share my politics come to different conclusions.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy edits the Sisterhood, and can be reached at [email protected]. Her book, The Perils of “Privilege”, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2017.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.