A recent piece by an opinion writer for the New York Times argued that “liberal Zionism”—which the author seems to equate with support for a two-state solution—is dead, and that the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem is “another nail in [its] coffin.” Although this argument has rapidly been gaining ground, writes Emily Shire, it is entirely without merit:
[L]liberal Zionism and its preferred two-state solution have persisted in the face of a growing chorus of critics insisting a one-state solution is now inevitable. . . . Despite [the Times writer’s] and others’ accounts, reports of the death of liberal Zionism are greatly exaggerated.
But even though it lacks substantive support, the “liberal Zionism is dead” refrain is dangerous because it makes it easier to convince liberals that they should dispense with Zionism altogether—liberal or otherwise. Zionism is the basic support for Jewish sovereignty; it entails no specifications about two-state solutions, settlements or, for that matter, opinions of Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet when critics argue that Trump’s [announcement about moving the American embassy to Jerusalem] sounds the death knell for liberal Zionism, they are implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) making support for Israel a partisan issue.
[This line of reasoning] boosts the myth that liberalism and Zionism are mutually exclusive. . . . Moreover, it all but ensures that antipathy toward any form of Zionism will grow because it makes it easier to discount—or plainly demonize—the concept of Jewish sovereignty. The “liberal Zionism is dead” narrative insidiously lays the groundwork for people across the political spectrum to accept a world where Israel is dispensable.