Middlebury senior Moriel Rothman is the current President of the national student arm of the pro-peace, pro-Israel group J Street. In addition to his role in the national “J-Street U,” Mori was also one of the driving forces behind establishing a Middlebury chapter of J-Street U on campus.
Today, the Huffington Post published a piece by Mori arguing against the Israeli Cabinet’s recent vote to require new Israeli citizens to pledge allegiance to Isreal as a Jewish and democratic state. Mori’s piece also addresses the more general issue of Zionism at American colleges including Middlebury:
I, like many in the American Jewish community, am a Zionist: I am committed to an Israel that is and will continue to be the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.
My Zionism, however, is not independent of my Jewish commitments to justice and equality. I was taught that central to the Jewish tradition is the obligation to stand to with those who suffer persecution, those on the margins.
…I see the effect of [a split between a pro-Israel camp and a progressive camp] on my campus and at universities throughout the country. Within the pro-Israel tent students who draw attention to the troubling character of a bill like the loyalty oath are accused of giving ammunition to those that would de-legitimize the very idea of a Jewish democracy. Meanwhile progressive campus groups committed to the environment, queer rights, anti-racism and other causes are full of Jews who see their politics and Judaism as inextricably linked yet stay away from any discussion of Israel. This landscape should trouble those unequivocally supportive of Israel, those concerned by its policies, as well as those invested in a progressive Jewish political tradition.