Actress Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy on The Big Bang Theory, has taken on a Palestinian-American activist for claiming that a person cannot be a feminist as well as a Zionist.
Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour had said to The Nation that there was no place for a Zionist in the feminist movement. She was responding to Bustle‘s politics editor’s, Emily Shire, op-ed piece in The New York Times, titled “Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists.”
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Linda Sarsour said that there was no room for supporters of Israel in feminism because it occupied territories in Palestine and denied Palestinian women access to health care and basic needs.
“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.”
On March 15, an upset Mayim Bialik, who has never shied away from supporting her faith and Israel, wrote a blog piece to defend Zionism and slam Linda Sarsour’s claim that feminism and Zionism are incompatible. The Big Bang Theory actress said that she was a Zionist and she was a feminist, adding that the definitions of Zionism and feminism were not in “conflict” with each other.
She defined Zionism as the “belief in the right of the Jewish people to have an autonomous state in Israel,” and feminism as “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.”
“…. 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.”
Mayim Bialik agreed that women suffered because of the things that happened in Israel and Palestine territories, adding that being a Zionist did not mean that one would be indifferent to Palestinian women and children’s suffering. However, she questioned why Israel was held to a different standard compared to many Muslim countries where women had to face genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, systematic abuse, revenge rape and honor killing.
“… Many countries – many Muslim countries, in fact – perpetrate atrocities against women which include: female genital mutilation, forced marriages, child brides, systematic abuse of women by the justice system, revenge rape and honor killing. Why is Israel held to a standard none of these other countries – whose offenses are, arguably more extreme – are held to? And why is belief in the State of Israel something that should exclude women – or men, for that matter – from identifying as feminists.”
The Big Bang Theory actress called Linda Sarsour’s claim “exceptionally short-sighted,” adding that it was bigotry.
“Accusing Zionism of being incompatible with feminism is exceptionally short-sighted. 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.”
It was irresponsible to blame Zionism and supporters of a Jewish state for the policies made by a few Jew people, Mayim Bialik stated in her blog piece, adding that it was disgusting, insulting and wrong.
She added, “it creates fragmentation in a movement that needs cohesion, needs to stand together for equality, domestically and internationally.”
The Big Bang Theory actress closed her piece by saying that as a feminist Zionist, she could not believe that she had to defend her 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.”
[Featured Image by Mike Windle/Getty Images]