The Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) wrote a second letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign on July 30 calling on the campaign to ask IfNotNow co-founder Max Berger “to step down” from his position on the campaign.
PZC co-founders Susan George and Paul Kujawsky wrote in a July 15 letter that they were concerned about Berger being hired as the Warren campaign’s Director of Progressive Partnerships in June, citing his tweets expressing support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and calling Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in 2014 a “pogrom.” In the July 30 letter, PZC Steering Committee Members Andrea Beth Damsky and Matthew Finkelstein highlighted Berger’s expressed support BDS again.
“He has positioned himself firmly against even the most progressive Zionism, the liberation movement that helps to ensure a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people while also standing for Palestinian sovereignty and self-determination,” Damsky and Finkelstein wrote. “We must stress that Berger is not merely criticizing Israel’s policies he deems unfair or unjust–progressive and liberal Zionists do that regularly—Berger is opposing the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.”
They pointed out the House of Representatives’ passage of an anti-BDS resolution shows that the Democratic Party is firmly against the BDS movement, prompting Damsky and Finkelstein to ask the Warren campaign, “Why would your campaign enable such an extreme position by keeping Berger in an influential, leadership role as Director of Progressive Partnerships?”
Damsky and Finkelstein added that “personnel is policy,” noting that the BDS movement has frequently pushed out progressive Zionists from progressive spaces.
“We are concerned that having Max in this role would lead to a similar dynamic within your campaign and administration,” Damsky and Finkelstein wrote. “Director of Progressive Partnerships will focus very much on the left side of the political spectrum. It is the progressive left–particularly new and younger voters–that are most susceptible to a demonizing, one-sided anti-Israel framing of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”
The Warren campaign did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
On July 8, a group of IfNotNow activists told Warren at a campaign event in New Hampshire that she should “push the Israeli government to end the occupation,” prompting Warren to respond, “Yes, yes. So I’m there.”
Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal at the time, “In combination with this guy [Max] Berger and this throwaway line that [Warren] put out ending the occupation, she owes her supporters and the rest of the American Jewish community and the rest of Americans a specific definition and context on what her Middle East policy will be.”