Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist Shaun King said that basketball star Draymond Green “got played” by visiting Israel on a Friends of the IDF-sponsored trip.
A year after ejecting marchers who carried Star of David pride flags, the Chicago Dyke March allowed Palestinian flags to be prominently featured.
Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory, who embraced virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, still refuses to denounce him.
What do these episodes have in common? They are disturbing manifestations of a philosophy called intersectionality, rooted in the idea that all forms of social oppression are linked. Many proponents believe that “oppression” can only be determined by the “oppressed” — and all too often, the “oppressed” are manipulated into uniting around fighting an “oppressor” identified as Israel. Anti-Israel extremists and their allies pervert justice by using genuine issues of race, gender and sexual orientation as recruiting tools for expanding the anti-Zionist movement.
By injecting Israel into the public discourse on issues unrelated to Israel, intersectionality undermines the pursuits of equality for women, African-Americans, the LGBTQ community and others. For instance, by publishing a platform that describes Israel as an “apartheid state” and urges divestment from Israel, BLM cheapens the experiences of those who suffered the racial injustices of apartheid-era South Africa.
Growing up under a socialist regime in the former Soviet Union made me finely attuned to propaganda. The USSR claimed to believe in a better, fairer world that would be free from class struggles.
As a young Soviet “pioneer,” I heard radio broadcasts about the struggle of Nicaragua against oppression. We were told to stand in solidarity with Nicaraguan workers against the oppression of “evil capitalists.” From the Soviet perspective, the Nicaraguan civil war was a battle between forces of good and evil, in which the peasants and “proletariat” must win for justice to prevail.
I watched a Cuban children’s film about how much fun it was to be a socialist pioneer in Cuba. We were convinced to empathize with our peers in the Caribbean and their struggles exacerbated by a “cruel” American embargo.
And then there was Africa, whose Third World plight could not possibly be ignored by upstanding young Soviet citizens like us.
This Soviet messaging was known as internationalism, the driving force behind all of the socialist campaigns encouraging us to bring “justice” and “freedom” to the entire world. We were urged to stand in solidarity with all oppressed people of the world. If one of us is oppressed, then all of us are, the Soviets emphasized.
Ultimately, I realized that this was a fraud, part of a systematic implementation of bigotry, including anti-Semitic policies that prevented Jews from attending university, practicing even the most basic parts of our religion, or immigrating to our homeland of Israel. While purporting to fight oppression worldwide, the Soviets carried out their own oppression against the Jews.
Sound familiar? In the United States, today’s version of Soviet internationalism is intersectionality. Anti-Zionist cheerleaders of intersectionality are not held accountable to the same standards of humanity and decency they pretend to demand, enabling them to disguise anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry as a fight against the oppression of women, African-Americans and LGBTQ individuals.
Zionism is not oppression, as intersectionality would have it. Zionism is the opposite of oppression; it is the ultimate restoration of justice. Against impossible odds, and in the face of millennia-old discrimination, the Jewish people have returned to their ancestral homeland, correcting a historical wrong
From the Romans, who enslaved and exiled the Jews more than 2,000 years ago, to nearly every nation on Earth that persecuted us, we have persevered and are now standing tall and proud. What could be a more inspiring story to take pride in and share with other communities?
Zionism demands that Jews be seen as worthy of natural rights. It asserts that Jews do not deserve to be treated as second-class citizens, or to be hated or murdered for being Jewish. It affirms that Jewish people deserve to determine their own fate and future. Any people deserve these natural rights, yet intersectionality attempts to strip them from Jews and Israelis — even worse, it unites marginalized groups in a coordinated effort to do so.
Intersectionality turns groups that are natural sources of public sympathy against Israel, isolating the Jewish and pro-Israel communities.
How can we turn momentum in Zionism’s favor?
Club Z, the Zionist movement for teens that I founded, is an important piece of the solution. We empower high school students — the next generation of leaders — to defend Zionism against assaults from the intersectionality movement, to speak the truth and to pay it forward.
We run the Club Z Institute, which offers comprehensive and nuanced education on Israel, and provides historical context to modern-day headlines. Our student leadership program, the Club Z Teen Board, empowers our most committed members with practical skills and opportunities to direct their passion into action. Our programs for alumni, the Club Z scholarship and the Club Z fellowship, continually engage our students and support them throughout their college years.
As an ever-expanding movement rooted in justice, Zionism deserves the world’s recognition. The best spokespeople for Zionism’s mission are the members of the next generation, and it is up to us to educate and empower them.
That is Club Z’s antidote to intersectionality’s unwarranted attack on Zionism.
Masha Merkulova is the founder and executive director of Club Z.