What Is the Zioness Movement?
Zioness is a coalition of Jewish activists and allies who are unabashedly progressive and unapologetically Zionist. We are a grassroots organization with more than 30 chapters across the country, fighting for the advancement of social, racial, economic and gender justice in America. We are also committed to fighting for Zionism and the inclusion of Zionists in social justice spaces, because Zionism is itself a progressive value: the movement for liberation and national self-determination of the Jewish people in our indigenous homeland. We are rooted in Jewish values, stand for justice and equality, and fight against all forms of oppression
- Provide a political home for the millions of American Jews who are both progressive and Zionist
- Unify and amplify the Zioness voice to combat antisemitism/“anti-Zionism” and defend the right of Jewish national self-determination in Israel, our indigenous home
- Advance social, racial, economic and gender justice in America
A future where American Jews are welcome and valued in the progressive movement without compromising our identity as Zionists.
A Manifesto for Change and Inclusion
We are Zionists who believe in social justice for all people. We come in all genders, colors, sizes, and creeds.
We understand that Zionism is the movement for Jewish self-determination; the expression of the Jewish peoples’ dreams of liberation and empowerment after millennia of Jewish struggles for civil rights and equality in the face of persecution, exile, and genocide. We support Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
Our Zionism drives our engagement in social action. As the world’s most enduring persecuted community, we have the experience—and the obligation—to seize our own history and apply it to advance the rights of others. We cannot, and will not, be deterred by those who try to kick us out or leave us behind in movements to strive for equality or justice.
As Zionists, we proudly fight for justice and against discrimination for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and any other human being whose rights are denied or threatened because of their innate characteristics.
Zioness is an inclusive movement. We invite all progressives and Zionists to participate.
We will not define your progressivism or your Zionism.
We will not apply political litmus tests to those who wish to fight for civil rights, social justice, and human dignity for all.
If you believe in these ideals, and that the Jewish people have a right to a safe and secure Jewish state, we welcome you with open arms.
Join us as we work to advance our goals.
- Ending discrimination and injustice: We will work to end racism, misogyny, and LBGTQ+ phobia. We aim to dismantle institutionalized racism in our government and our society; to implement national policies that ensure equal treatment for people of all ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations in public and private institutions; and to amplify the voices of our community members who face this type of discrimination.
- Providing a home and platform of support for Jews and Zionists in progressive circles: We are acting to stop the spread of anti-Semitism and the demonization of Jews, Zionism, and Zionists on both the right and the left. We encourage and embolden the Jews and Zionists who have always cared deeply about social justice movements to reactivate our community, promote understanding of Judaism and Zionism within progressive circles, and call out anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it appears.
Our Guiding Principles
- We recognize and appreciate the full diversity of our progressive Jewish community, and commit to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive space.
- Our commitment as Jews to “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world) drives our engagement and activism. We strive to be an actively anti-oppression movement, that consistently showing up as allies in the fight for social, racial, economic, and gender justice in America.
- Zionism is the self-determination movement of the Jewish people in our ancestral homeland, and we refuse to allow others to pervert its meaning and weaponize it against our community. Our Zionism is an inherent part of what it means to be a Jew. It’s not a reflection of the policies or politics of the Israeli government, because we fervently believe that one can be a proud Zionist whether they love, hate, or are ambivalent about the Israeli government.
- The Jewish state is necessary to ensure the safety, security and continuity of the Jewish people, who have survived oppression and persecution in societies across the globe for millennia.
- Zionism is a progressive value. In keeping with core progressive values to protect marginalized communities, we urge our allies to commit to protecting the Jewish right to self-determination.
- In our domestic activism we are committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue around antisemitism and Israel, but there is no place for the demonization, delegitimization and exploitation of Israel in our movements. Such efforts are modern manifestation of an age-old bigotry: antisemitism.
- Zionism is the liberation movement of the Jewish people, and as an organization committed to collective liberation, we strongly support a two- state solution which ensures the dignity, security, and right to self- determination of both peoples.
- Criticism of actual Israeli government policy is not necessarily anti-Semitic, but we object whenever we see disproportionate energy and focus on demonizing or delegitimizing Israel, especially when that attention is not based on facts and history. We reject the double standard by which the criticism levied at the world’s only Jewish state is not applied with the same intensity or consistency to any other nation on earth that is engaging in similar or worse behavior.
- We urge allies to consider thousands of years of global antisemitism, and to actively dismantle and condemn it in our organizing, especially when discussing Zionism.
Zioness Anti-Oppression Statement
A Zioness is progressive, Zionist and Proud. Rooted in Jewish Values, we stand for justice and against all forms of oppression.
Zioness was born out of the marginalization of American Jews and the burning desire for a more inclusive and just progressive movement. As Jews, we have intimate knowledge of oppression. Our history and lived experience drives our communal mandate to fight for equity, justice and liberation for all people. As a national community, Zioness commits to actively opposing all forms of oppression, including racism, classism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, colonialism, white saviorism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and xenophobia. We commit to addressing these systemic realities in our activism and our everyday actions.
At Zioness, we never respond to any form of bigotry or bias we face, including antisemitism, by engaging in the same or similar behavior. Doing so would only amplify the problem. Instead, we will draw upon our Jewish value of Teshuva (restoration) to provide opportunities for accountability, education, and growth, and continue our shared fight for liberation for all.
Zioness Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pledge
Zioness launched to provide an activist home to the millions of Americans who care deeply about social, racial, economic and gender justice in America, and want to participate in these crucial movements for change as proud Jews and/or Zionists. We are rooted in Jewish values, stand for justice and equality, and fight against all forms of oppression.
That means, by definition, that we must fight racism, intolerance, discrimination, and bias––whether conscious or unconscious––within ourselves and our Jewish community. For too long, in too many places, and without solidarity or support, Jews of color have been questioned, alienated, and treated as the “other”. Jews of color are often unseen, or even actively erased in our communal conversations and prioritizations. While it may feel deeply uncomfortable to do the soul-searching this moment demands, those of us who present as white Jews, therefore benefiting from white privilege, must remind ourselves of the platforms we have to make sustainable change. We were all together at Sinai––we’ve been together so many times and in such trying moments ever since––and we must be all together now.
While we have always hoped to be clear about our desire to bring all Jews and allies together who identify as unabashedly progressive and unapologetically Zionist, we have not done enough to make sure that message was received by the many Jews of color who may identify strongly with our mission. Furthermore, our mission has two pieces: to fight for equity and justice, and to fight antisemitism, including a contemporary manifestation as anti-Zionism. If we are not standing in solidarity with, centering and elevating Jews of color––and all people of color––no matter their personal views, we are failing our mandate as an organization founded to fight for social justice and equity.
During the summer of 2020, Jewish leaders of color wrote a powerful open letter calling on all of us to do better. It was a message that many of us needed to hear. At Zioness, we intend to honor that call with intentionality.
Since its inception, Zioness has publicly and privately urged Jewish communal institutions to engage more deeply with diverse Jewish leaders and organizations and to strive to be far more inclusive. Recently, Zioness’s Executive Director published a statement on the future of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, urging more representation and more active and integral roles for the 20% of American Jews who are members of communities of color.
But we have not done nearly enough. In this moment of profound introspection and learning, we at Zioness know that our fight against white supremacy and systemic racism must begin inside the community we are so proud to belong to and serve. While individual Jews and Zionesses can and do show up regularly in racial justice spaces, we must do the hard work internally in the Jewish community: True allyship demands that our work begin amongst ourselves and penetrate all aspects of our lives.
As Zioness is still in an early growth phase as an organization, we commit to building in a way that is fully inclusive––as we have strived to do since day 1––in partnership and consultation with Jews of color, knowing that anything less would be a divergence from our urgent mission, deep-seated values, and community priorities.
In line with this effort, Zioness commits to the following:
Consistent and unequivocal private and public solidarity with Black Americans in the fight for racial justice. Black lives matter. We have said so over and over again, and we will continue to say so, privately and publicly; show up in strong support as allies and accomplices; and call out the white supremacy and systemic racism which denies and harms Black humanity in America. We will continue to center racial justice, criminal justice reform, police reform, and all Black lives––Black men, Black women, Black children, Black trans, formerly incarcerated Black individuals, Black workers, and all others––in our work.
In keeping with our manifesto, mission, and guiding principles, racial justice and social equity will be pillars in our work and integrated throughout our organization. We will institutionalize inclusive, equitable, anti-racist practices, policies, education and programming throughout the organization.
- All members will be provided with our anti-oppression statement and will be asked to engage in alignment with it. We will call in those who do not, and engage in restorative processes to help people grow and deepen understanding.
- We will work with an outside consultant to ensure our recruiting and selecting processes center inclusion and equity throughout to account for the privileges and structural disadvantages of various applicants.
- We will foster intentional partnerships with Jews of color to increase applicant diversity and ensure all job openings are accessible for our entire community.
- All new hires will go through a mandatory DEI training as part of their onboarding to the organization.
- All current staff and chapter leaders will go through mandatory annual DEI trainings.
- We will work to build more intentional partnerships with networks of Jews of color to increase applicant diversity, and will pursue every avenue feasible to seek and encourage applications from Jews of color.
- We will host a series of community conversations with members across the country centered on racial justice. These programs will be created with the help of an outside consultant who is a woman of color specifically in keeping with our values. During these conversations, we will explicitly explore issues of white supremacy, systemic racism, implicit bias, and our role in deconstructing systems of oppression.
- We will provide quarterly educational opportunities for staff and membership that focus on deepening understanding around racial justice, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion for our community, like the training we hosted on June 4.
- We will include intentional DEI training as part of all biannual in-person board meetings.
- We will curate and continue to update a list of articles, books, resources to be provided directly to all members/staff/board to deepen understanding of inequities and bigotries common in American domestic politics and the biases within ourselves and how to unlearn them.
- We will work to cultivate more local and national partnerships with organizations led by people of color working on racial justice so our members can act in partnership and solidarity.
We will build an organization that is fully representative of our Jewish community.
- Our goal is to reach and maintain a board of directors that is at least 20% people of color, with an emphasis on Jews of color.
- Our goal is to reach and maintain a staff which is at least 20% people of color, with an emphasis on Jews of color, by July 1st, 2021.
- We will work with the leadership of our local chapters to establish goals for their chapter membership, including avenues for achievement of those goals.
We have already created a DEI committee on our Board of Directors to ensure we have an accountability structure in place to help deliver on these various commitments. Further, we will publicly publish a report for the community by the end of June of 2021 which outlines our progress on this front and our go-forward focus on these issues.