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Statement on Zionism from 'The Zionist Five'

In addition to being a professional author, I am also a professional painter. Until December of 2007, I was represented by a well-known San Francisco gallery which decided to cancel publication of a catalogue of my work due to the use of the term Zionism in the catalogue's title and by several of the authors who contributed essays. The authors included David Rosenberg, David Twersky, Polly Zavadivker and Etgar Keret who, though not a Zionist per se, was nonetheless suppressed. This incident was reported on the front page of the NY Sun, and in Jewish Week, The Forward and Jewish Bulletin. In response, I and the other others--now tagged in the media as the 'Zionist 5' and joined by the novelist Thane Rosenbaum-- issued and signed the following statement, which I composed (with helpful feedback from David Twersky):


Zionism is the Civil Rights Movement of the Jewish People. It is the answered prayer to two thousand years of ceaseless persecution at the hands of unpredictable host nations and of religions that at times abandoned their own highest moral precepts in the pursuit of dubious political objectives at the expense of Jewish life and limb.

For an individual or institution to claim to respect and tolerate Jews and yet deny a Jew, any Jew, the right to proclaim Zionism as a personal spiritual, cutural and political raison d'etre, is like telling a Black person that you regard him as your equal and friend but please, do not mention the March on Birmingham; please, don’t talk about Martin Luther King; please, don’t bring up Rosa Parks to me.

Zionism is the March on Birmingham, the Martin Luther King, the Rosa Parks of our people, the Jewish People. It is our march on the death camp at Auschwitz; it is our fight for an equal place on the bus of human history.

And the State of Israel is our Promised Land of freedom and equality on earth.

How the term Zionism, and all that it so powerfully represents to our people after the Holocaust; how this term Zionism, this vision of redemption, this philosophy of empowerment, this bright candle held up to the night and which lead back home the displaced and tortured remnants, the dreamers and idealists, the Jews who came from all corners of the earth with a vision of self-determination and cultural, spiritual and political renewal; how this miracle of an idea was brought to fruition through the sacrifice and struggle of the brave Israeli people, is one of the great miracles of human history.

And how this same Zionism, distorted and vilified by one of the most sordid disinformation campaigns in history, became the bete noire of the present day, a refugee of a word, a pariah of an idea, is one of the most sordid instances in the long, cruel campaign to marginalize and, ultimately, to destroy the Jewish People.

Let us, then, be perfectly frank about one thing. To vilify, marginalize, suppress or outlaw Zionism politically, socially or culturally, for any reason whatever, is to wish no less then murderous extinction upon every Jewish man, woman and child in the world today. It is to refute our history entire, to deny us the memory of our long march out of bondage into equality and dignity. It is to assert ghettoization and ostracization, exile and massacre as the only fate befitting a Jew.

If ignorance of the law does not exempt one from the law, then ignorance of the unthinkable consequences to Jews of a world without Israel, and of ones own action to libel, marginalize or censor Zionism in any way, regardless of how subtle or seemingly innocuous, does not exempt anyone, then, from the charge of participation in fostering genocide against the Jewish People. For no less then genocide awaits our people should the present campaign against Zionism succeed.

We, the undersigned, affirm our right --moral, spiritual, cultural and political -- to proclaim our Zionism in any manner that we choose, without hinderence or proscription, and further, we condemn, forcefully and completely the stance of anti-Zionism for what so blatently it is: a human rights violation and euphemistic mask behind which lurks the age-old nightmare of anti-Semitism.

Alan Kaufman
David Twersky
David Rosenberg
Thane Rosenbaum
Polly Zavadivker

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I was curious about the painting in the background of your author photo.  It is gorgeous.  Can you tell me more about that piece?

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Dear Belle Yang

Dear Belle Yang
Thank you for your interest and praise of the painting behind me in the photo. It is 6 feet by 5 feet, painted with Acrylic, oil, pencil and charcoal and is one of my favorite paintings. It has been reproduced in several of the newspaper articles about the unfortunate episode I've described in my blog entry. The painting does have a strange beauty and is one of my favorites. I term the style of my painting 'Visionary Expressionism' because I am endeavoring as a painter to express what has eluded me as an author, what defies language. These visions seem to emerge as much from the paint as from within me.