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Jon Segall

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As an American Jew who loves, respects, and fully believes in the Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland in the land of our forefathers/mothers, I worry about those "New Purists" those who are attempting to steal open discourse from a community and culture that has always prided itself on it's openness, intelligence, and willingness to grow, as well as adapt and empathize with the downtrodden and oppressed in the world. These "new purists" seem to be on a quest to re-define Zionism and who can be part of that movement.

First though, here is a beautiful passage from the Israeli Declaration of Independence:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The ideals enshrined in this document embodied the ideal of creating a nation that was to be "as a light unto nations". Yet the "new purists", those individuals who deem themselves more properly Jewish or Zionist than those of us who believe in the Israel of its founders, are embarking on a campaign that threatens the very State of Israel itself. From the public defamation of dissent by Im Tirzu, to the snubs from the Israeli government of American Zionist organizations dedicated to supporting Israel, to the arrests and violence against the protestors at Sheikh Jarrah who are trying to help innocent families being pushed out of their homes - the "new purists" are trying to define who are the "real" supporters of Israel.

Well I say to these "new purists" that your efforts to claim "Greater Israel", create a "witch hunt" in the diaspora community and in Israel for imagined enemies, and politically stifle debate on issues that are so important to the modern State of Israel, are destroying support for Israel not only within the International community but within the Jewish community itself. Those of us in the Progressive Zionist movement love "Ha'aretz". We love that it is a haven for Jews no matter where they are who are threatened by those who would harm us for our faith, culture and nationality. The continued existence of Israel as a Jewish State is paramount for our survival as a people.

The political rigidity that you support runs contrary to our history as a people. You are creating a place that takes the worst from other nations, not something that is an example for others. By focusing on destroying the Progressive wing of Zionism you are splitting our already small community. You are putting the very existence of Israel as a 21st century democracy in peril.

We ask that you look at your roots and look at the roots of a country we love. We on the Progressive Wing of Zionism support and love Israel. We want Israel to grow and prosper in the 21st century and for centuries to come. The world is a changing place and we as a people need to adapt and embrace this change, not fear it and resort to tactics of our enemies. Because when we do that - we lose the very things that have kept us alive for so many centuries regardless of the levels of oppression we have endured.