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On the Nose is our biweekly podcast. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.
Controversy at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
0:00 / 33:40
May 2, 2024

Last fall, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco put out an open call for artists to apply for the California Jewish Open. Some of the artists that were accepted into the show identified themselves openly in the application as anti-Zionist, and submitted work that contained content that straightforwardly advocated for Palestinian liberation.

But in April, seven of the artists withdrew from the show. A statement released by a group calling themselves California Jewish Artists for Palestine cited an “inability to meet artists’ demands, including transparency around funding and a commitment to BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions].” The artists demanded to be able to have final say on wall text about the works, and to be able to pull or alter their works at any time. They were also concerned about potential “curatorial both-sidesism,” referring to an email they received on March 22nd which asked artists to sign off on the fact that their work would be “presented in proximity to artwork(s) by other Jewish artists which may convey views and beliefs that conflict with [their] own.” The museum has decided to leave blank the wall space designated for this work, “to honor the perspective that would have been shared through these works, and to authentically reflect the struggle for dialogue that is illustrated by the artists’ decisions to withdraw.”

This week, Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel speaks to two anti-Zionist multidisciplinary artists who made divergent decisions about whether to stay in the group show: Amy Trachtenberg, who opted to remain, and Liat Berdugo, who has pulled out. The trio discuss the perils and possibility of Jewish institutional life—in the art world and beyond—at this moment, the applicability of BDS in this case, and the uses and limitations of “dialogue.”

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”


Jewish Anti-Zionist Artists Withdraw From Contemporary Jewish Museum Show,” Matt Stromberg, Hyperallergic

Anti-Zionist Jewish artists pull out of CJM exhibit when demands are not met,” Andrew Esensten, J Weekly

CJM visitors wonder: Does the Palestinian flag belong on the museum’s walls?,” Andrew Esensten, J Weekly

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines

Campus Politics Takes the Stage in The Ally,” On the Nose, Jewish Currents

Jewish Voice for Peace/IfNotNow Passover Campaign

Biting the Hand,” The Editors, e-flux

Seeing It for the Trees” by Liat Berdugo

LABA Bay Area and the New Jewish Culture Fellowship


Arielle Angel: Hello and welcome back to On the Nose, the Jewish Currents Podcast. I’m Arielle Angel, editor-in-chief of Jewish Currents, and I’ll be your host today. The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco put out a call for the California Jewish Open. Multiple artists who submitted identified themselves openly in the application as anti-Zionist, and it seems that a few of them submitted work that contained content that straightforwardly advocated for Palestinian liberation (and even said “Free Palestine”). Some of these artists were accepted into the show, but earlier this month, seven of the accepted artists withdrew from the show. A statement released by a group calling themselves California Artists for Palestine cited, quote: “an inability to meet artists’ demands, including transparency around funding and a commitment to BDS: boycott, divestment and sanctions,” end quote. The artists had also demanded to be able to have final say on wall texts about the works and to be able to pull or alter their works at any time. The artists were also concerned about potential, quote, “curatorial both sides-ism,” end quote, referring to an email they received on March 22, which asked artists to sign off on the fact that their work would be, quote, “presented in proximity to artworks by other Jewish artists, which may convey views and beliefs that conflict with their own,” end quote. The museum has decided to leave wall space blank where the work by the artists who have withdrawn would have hung, quote, “both to honor the perspective that would have been shared through these works, and to authentically reflect the struggle for a dialogue that is illustrated by the artists’ decision to withdraw,” end quote.

So I wanted to talk about this because I think it’s an interesting test case in a lot of different directions. There are concerns about violating, yes, the boycott of Israel that was called by Palestinian civil society. This has been a part of the conversation, and we should talk about how operative they areI’m actually not so sure that they are operative here. But I think otherwise, we’re in a moment of rupture in the Jewish community, and it’s becoming almost impossible for Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews to coexist in the same Jewish institutions. But, of course, all the institutions belong to Zionist Jews, so this has just basically looked like anti-Zionists being left out in the cold. And most of the time, the Jewish institutions are drawing very strong red lines to keep anti-Zionist voices out. And in this case, it seems like there was actually an attempt (and we can talk about the ways in which it might be imperfect) to let them in, and it still didn’t really work out. I feel the questions here touch at the heart of what the future of Jewish institutional life looks like in the United States, and also for anti-Zionist Jews who are trying to figure out where their role might be relative to these institutions and to organized Jewish life as a whole. So, to explore these questions with me today, I have two wonderful guests, both Bay Area artists. Amy TrachtenbergHi, Amy.

Amy Trachtenberg: Hello

AA: And Liat Berdugo.

Liat Berdugo: Hi

AA: Both of whom identify as anti-Zionist but who made different decisions about whether to stay in the show. So, Amy, I’m gonna start with you. And, full disclosure, you were my art teacher many, many years agoactually 20 years ago. And you called me when you got into the show, and I sensed a real concern from you about what this was going to be like, and you ultimately decided to stay in. So I wanted you to walk me through your thought process, both the concern and the decision to stay in the show.

AT: So I knew that I’d be stepping into something potentially very muddy by even responding to the open call. I had come off of a year of (my first time, really, as an adult) going into Jewish study by being part of the LABA artists’ group. LABA is a global group that occurs in various cities around the worldBarcelona, New York, the Bay Area, Berlin—and Jewish-identified artistsit’s not considered religious or politicalhave the opportunity in this fellowship to study ancient texts with scholars and see what artwork emerges based on the study of these texts. And then there’s an exhibition, and there’s monthly meetings and studies, and it was quite fantastic for me. So I was interested in continuing these dialogues (within the framework, possibly, of the exhibition because I don’t have a history of exhibiting as a Jewish-identified artist). So when I was accepted into the show, I did immediately contact the museum, and my ask was: If there are political works in the show, which I assumed there would be, would there be a plurality of voices exhibited? And what would that look like? And the curator confirmed that there was a certain percentage of works that they would consider obviously political, and that people whose work could be identified as either Zionist or pro-Palestinian solidarity, that they felt it was a fifty-fifty split. And I submitted, like everybody else, I assume, three different works. And the work that they chose of mine was, I’d say, the least political and quite personal, thoughwhile it’s in the abstract realm, it could be construed in various political ways also.

AA: Well, I want to come back to a bunch of things that you’ve said, but I also want to bring Liat into the conversation. Liat, I know that you did choose to pull your work, and I just want to hear the same thing: What motivated your decision to apply to the show, and what was your thought process in terms of deciding not to move forward?

LB: Yeah, I think Amy and I come from similar places, in a sense. I also have not really been associated with Jewish spaces, except for last year when I was part of the New Jewish Culture Fellowship, which is a group that selected eight artists across the US to basically have a crit group and think through issues about what Jewish culture should meanand istoday. And I really found a home there. So yeah, coming off of that year, I was sort of like: Why not? I submitted three works also, and one was this work called Seeing It for the Trees that I had developed last year. First, it was as a sort of performative lecture, and then it became a book, and a video, and an installation that’s about Israel/Palestine, specifically about my own relationship to it and a tree that I planted in the Jerusalem forest when I was six years old. And about the Jewish National Fund, the organization with which I planted that tree, and thinking through issues of greenwashing and colonialism. And also, my own relationship to my family history, like a lot of that project is about me talking with my father over these images from the Jewish National Fund and thinking about my own children and legacy. That’s the work they chose. And I was really shocked, because it’s a nuanced work, but it’s critical of Israel, and critical of settler colonialism and of the kind of Zionism that focuses on erasure of Palestinians and for closing the possibility of the right of return by planting forests.

So yeah, as I got closer to it, and once I got this email for the letter to sign, I think I started to feel the ick and start to feel uncomfortable. First of all, because I’ve never been asked to sign something like that for a group showand I’ve been in lots and lots of group shows. And I began to feel like: Okay, if I need to turn over my consent ahead of time, I need to know what I’m turning it over tolike, what are the other works in the show? And the museum curatorial team was actually really responsive. I didn’t go in with a list of demands, I went in with, like: Here’s what I’m uncomfortable with, and unless you can tell me what the works are and what the curatorial statement is, I just can’t participate in a show of this scale. I think we should mention there’s like 50 artists in the show, and 60 worksit’s a big show. And they did sit down with me and, off the record, go over what works were in the show, what the statement would be for my work, what the press release would look like. And at first, I was like: Okay, maybe if my work can have enough impact, I’d be willing to get down with this. And then, I just began to really feel like things were moving too fast forward. So questions like: Can we really have pluralism? Can we really have a diversity of views right now? Like, is that what I want to be a part of, publicly, as an artist who’s in a Jewish context? If we have works that areyou know, Amy, you mentioned like, fifty-fifty, then where’s the middle that’s staking out? Can we have works about grief over Jewish life without that grief being metabolized against Palestinians for violence? And then just even things like the language of the show. There were going to be, maybe, some content warnings on the room where my work and the other works that were critical of Israel (or using the word apartheid, or saying “Free Palestine”) was going to be. And now that’s moot, I don’t think it’s going to happen, but that’s what I understood in conversations.

AA: I think it’s worth also noting that they generally have a show that’s open to not just Jewish artists, but also non-Jewish artists. In 2022, they had a work by Tosha Stimage (I don’t know if I’m saying her name correctly) with Palestinian flags on it, and there were multiple articles written about it, and the curators really had to defend that choice to bring a Palestinian flag into the Jewish Museum. So they’re certainly no strangers to navigating this, but I think that’s as far as it’s gone. And also, it was in a show that explicitly wasn’t with Jewish artists, and that may give them a certain kind of license. I don’t know.

AT: I did ask the curator with whom I spoke. I said: What are you going to do about BDS and PACBI? Inevitably, there’s going to be some kind of firestorm

AA: PACBI being the cultural boycott against Israel

AT: You know: What do you imagine your positions are going to be in relation to who your funders are and who is on your board? And she said: Look, we’re in the Bay Area, and we have positions that often differ from our board and our funders. But without them, there’s no Jewish institution. And it’s imperfect, and we’re willing to walk in those waters of difficulty. I mean, I’m paraphrasing, but I felt like they were open to a certain degree of struggle, even from the artists. I mean, they were very open about allowing us a lot of conversation. I’ve never experienced that before. And even them revealing to Liat what their statements were going to be is, I think, a great distance for an institution like that to go. So I didn’t think it would be easy, but I was interested in the controversy, and I was really interested in the dialogue.

LB: Yeah, I think I really agree with you, Amy. I agree that I want to be in dialogue about this. I’m not sure a public-facing exhibition is dialogue. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s a provocation, maybe it’s an experience. Part of it’s educational, for sure, for student groups that go through. But ultimately, I don’t think it’s a conversation, actually, and I would probably have a different feeling about my work if it really was a venue for conversation, and we wanted to bring different voices to the table. I think the other question that comes up for me around this is questions around this both-sides and normalization., and I think this brings up really interesting questions for the Jewish world. For instance, I’m not sure that this show violates PACBI; I don’t see that there’s any donors from Israeli institutions or from the Israeli state. I don’t know what the museum would say if the Consulate General came and said: Hey, we want to throw in $1,000 for some of your programming. Would they say no? I don’t know. But I think the more interesting question for me isnormalization has really been thought of in a context of a Palestinian (or someone representing the Arab world) and an Israeli or Jew, like, putting those side-by-side and making this equal footing. And I think one question that came up for me in this is: Is there such a thing as normalization when both people speaking are Israeli or both people speaking are Jewish? Do we call it that? If we think of art as a speech act, do certain speech acts actually undo the other ones, so you actually can’t have a dialogue? These are questions that are just coming up for me that I don’t know the answers to, but they were the things that were swirling in me that made me feel, ultimately, just uncomfortable participating in this.

AA: On some level, Liat, I think you and I would agree that this has been a very illuminating moment in terms of seeing where people have fallen. I used to think about, in terms of what I thought we were doing at Jewish Currents, there used to be a moment where I thought more of what we were doing was trying to convince people. And, actually, part of that has changed since October 7, because the war itself has really made it very clear who the community is around the organization: They are people who are opposed to the war. And there is some kind of opening, on some level, in terms of people feeling very uncomfortable with what they’re seeing coming through their screens. But then there’s also a great amount of retrenchmenteven people who were feeling more uncomfortable before October 7 have used October 7 (and stories about campus antisemitism) to run back to positions that feel a little bit more safe. So the question about what conversation is doing right now is a very good question. And also, of course, it’s not an equal conversation with the anti-Zionists in the room. Forget about Palestinians for a secondthey’re not in this roombecause the institutions themselves have kind of a soft Zionism. I would say in this case soft because I don’t think that the contemporary Jewish Museum announces itself as, quote unquote, a Zionist institution. I don’t think it’s ever had to do that. But Amy, I just want to hear from you: What is it that you wanted to see when you talk about the dialogue?

AT: I think that there is a conversation for a viewer who comes into a museum curious about: What do Jewish artists do in their work right now? Whether it’s addressing this conflict, whether it’s addressing the history of Zionism, or their grandmother’s babushka, I don’t know. I think that there’s a lot of possibility there as people who claim to be Jewish-identifying, and by mixing that up, that is a conversation. It’s visual. It’s thought provoking. It gives us the opportunity, as artists, to be in conversation, because I asked for that, like: Will there be a way for us to meet and have conversations? Because a lot of us, our communities are very split, and so we often can’t converse across the linesalthough, within many families that does have to happen (if people are still talking).

AA: Well, and I think also, like just pointing out that there was a J Weekly piece about all of this. I mean, I just noticed that the three artists that they talked towho were sympathetic, but who stayed in the showwere also older, generationally. I don’t want to oversimplify, but I think that there’s something a bit generational going on here.

AT: Well, I know that my response to the artists that pulled out who were interviewed, saying that they didn’t want their work to be in a space with work that they oppose so muchand I think perhaps you’re right, that my generation is going to say: No, we have to be able to hear each other, or there’s no moving the dial in any way. I see that as a real problem in academia, that students or faculty want to silence and shut down these conversations that are really uncomfortable.

AA: But Amy, would there be a limit for you of like, what could be on the other side?

AT: Yeah, I have my limits. Like if they invited Nazis to show and white supremacistsyeah, I would have my limits. But also, I’ve been in a lot of group shows where I, on many levels, don’t love (or like at all) work that I’m in juxtaposition with. So I think by entering that space of a group show, and giving up some of my demands as what I think a perfect show is going to be. I just feel that so much is so siloed and so closed down. I feel like I want the same demand as the artists do who pulled out. I want an immediate ceasefire, but I’m not interested in closing down discussions. And I think a show like this in an institution that’s really, I think, trying to make things available in ways that I am not aware of other Jewish institutions doing at this moment, or everI think it’s really unfortunate that younger artists who are in solidarity with Palestine won’t be part of it.

LB: One thing to mention when we talk about this question of dialogue is that the theme of the show is literally connection. Like this is not supposed to be a show about Israel/Palestine; it’s supposed to be a show about connection. And I think for me, I ended up feeling likeI don’t know that we can have that right now, especially if we have works that are about Israel or Palestine in the show. To me, that’s like an ecological change. It affects everything. It affects all the work, and it affects all the framing,

AA: You’re saying, we are literally not in a moment of connection, and therefore

LB: Yeah, I think withdrawing from a show about connection and a Jewish space has made me feel like if I can’t do it there, especially with curators who are putting themselves out on a limb to take risks with me or for me, then where can I ever have it? And it kind of compounds the feeling of despair or loneliness about the show. But I think it’s true that I do. And I also think I am in a family where I’m kind of out there on the leftlike, my dad’s Israeli. And I think there’s a part of me that feels likeI used to feel I needed to try to convince my father, and now, I feel like I’m more full of fatigue about conversations. Actually, the people that I’m speaking to are people that are younger than me, not people that are older than me. And that might be a complete abdication.

AA: No, but I think that that’s really real. I feel sort of the same way. When I think about Jewish Currents at this point, I really am interested in grabbing the kids on college campuses who are feeling scared and vulnerable, who all they’ve ever heard of is Zionist propaganda. But people in their seventies? At this point, it’s nice if they’re brought over by something that we’re working on, but I think you’re rightthere is a bit of a fatigue with that particular conversation, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to say that, it’s uncomfortable to admit that.

LB: It gets to something else that was on this podcast, I think a couple of weeks ago, this idea of the “having conversations industrial complex.” What is the goal of having conversations? Is it to feel good that you have them, or will there be action that comes out of it? I don’t know.

AA: The thing that I do worry about ismaybe I’ll go back. There’s an action that JVP and IfNotNow are doing over Passover that’s basically like: Don’t have a festive meal at your Passover Seder this year, and donate the money that you were going to have for the Seder to UNRWA. And I think that’s a good thing to do. And there is also this way that we know we can’t separate Jewishness and Zionism completely in this moment because our institutions are totally shot through with it, and even if we wanted to, it’s just not realistic because the community itselfJudaism in the United States has been hijacked by Zionism over many decades, and we can’t just pretend that that didn’t happen. And at the same time, in this process of divestment from that, I’m afraid we’re going to wash everything away with it. Like, what do we get to have right now that is Jewish? And actually, when we spoke before this, Liat, you mentioned something that came from a friend of yours who also pulled out of the show (Kate Laster), that’s kind of about a total refusal. And I can really understand the feeling of that total refusal, and at the same time, I’m scared of it. because the total refusal is also the refusal to be a part of Jewish life, period, right now, because none of it is completely free of these dynamics. I feel very strongly that we’re going to have to create our own institutions. but I also know that we don’t have the resources to do that. Does that mean we are giving up our claim completely on institutional Jewish life? And if so, okay, it might mean thatbut then, does it also mean giving up on Judaism, frankly? Because how do we practice without communal structures?

LB: Yeah, I also think, in coming to this conversation, I don’t feel like this is a debate. I don’t feel like I did the right thing and Amy did the wrong thing. I actually do also feel like maybe I did the wrong thing, and you did the right thing. and I’ll come back saying, “Aviti, pashati. Let me back in!” I don’t know. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation. But what you’re bringing up, Arielle, makes me think about the e-flux letter to the editors that came out this April about this question, like: Do you retract from shows? And how maybe withdrawal is the ethically clearest thing to do right now. but that when you leave, you leave a vacuum, and that vacuum not only cedes public space to others but does what you’re saying, Arielle. It leaves a vacuum within yourselfwhether Judaism for you is culture, or religion, or a mix of the two, there is an evacuation that can happen, which is what I hear you saying you are scared of.

So maybe, while it is the ethically clearest thing to do, it’s also the easiest thing to do. Maybe what needs to happen is work from insidewhich is, I think, what the curators at the museum are doing the work to do, in many ways. That’s harder, and it’s longer. But I don’t know. I don’t know how to look at that and this exact moment; in this moment, it feels too ethically fraught to me to be a part of a Jewish show, in public space, in the city that I live, that doesn’t have a clear message about Gaza. I can picture the opening, and I can picture the protest I would have to walk through to goam I going to feel proud of this? Am I going to feel like I have completely abdicated my responsibility as an artist in the public sphere by participating in the show? I just felt like I couldn’t see myself doing it.

AT: I first want to just say that the vacuum that you leave by not having your amazing piece be part of this show is a sorrowful thing to me, just because I think it’s a story that so manyespecially hardcore Zionist Jewsdon’t see and have never seen. I think that it would be a great counterpoint to work that is merely abstract or whatever the show is going to be composed of. It’s a deeply-researched, really beautifully realized piece. I just don’t want to look at this as both sides-ism. I can’t see it that way, and I don’t see that by trying to show a range of voices, that they’re placating anybody. I think it’s a real effort to draw from all the ways that we are in conflict, individually and certainly as a community.

AA: For me, when I think about dialogueI’m gonna go up to some Upper West Side synagogue next week and speak to peoplemostly older people and mostly liberal Zionistsabout, essentially, the left and Israel/Palestine. And I know that everybody else on the panel is going to basically be saying: The left betrayed us, they’re all antisemitic, they’re all Hamas supporters. And I’m going to be the only person who isn’t. But my investment in that spaceI’m not going to get paid for it, and I’m also not presenting myself or my work in that space. I just have to show up, have a conversation, and leave. That is kind of as far as I’m willing to go. If I was asked to bring my own program to these spaces, I don’t know what I would do. I certainly wouldn’t allow Jewish Currents to become, in some way, absorbed into that project; I would be a lot more careful about that. I’m not willing, right now, to fully withdraw, and I’m not willing to become part of.

LB: I also wonder: We have the question of dialogue or plurality. Can it happen? Should it happen? But then, we also have the question of: Is that where we should be pouring our energy right now? I think that’s where I got caught up. I don’t actually know that that’s where I want to be putting my name or my voice right now, into making dialogue happen. What’s more important to me is ceasefire. Right? I don’t know that I can have that conversation or dialogue in publicalso with work that’s deeply personal, that uses my own image, talks about my own family, that in many ways, it’s not easy for me to delaminate from my own identity.

AA: It sounds like what you’re saying is that this might actually be temporary; that we’re not going to be in this place forever. I feel like there’s one thing that we haven’t touched on, which is the direct stuff around PACBI, the cultural boycott in BDS. So just to be clear, the Contemporary Jewish Museum has not taken any money from anything that would be boycottable since 2021 and seemingly doesn’t have any plans to do so. If I had to make an uneducated guess about what’s going on with them, they probably don’t want to take any more of that money because they know that it’s bad, but they also know that saying that they won’t take it, and signaling that they’re soft signing on to any kind of boycott would piss off their funderssome of whom are very right-wing, like the Diller Foundation (who gives to Canary Mission, who blacklists Palestine student activists). But there was stuff in the statement specifically about Zionist donors, which is not a specification of PACBI. They’re not interested in American Jewish Zionist donors and in vetting donors that wayit’s really about Israeli government money and that measure of linkage and complicity. And I guess, my question is: Are we trying to be more Catholic than the pope here a little bit? Does it make sense to start with our Jewish institutions in terms of, quote unquote, “Zionist money,” as opposed to our regular institutions, or to hold our Jewish institutions to a different standard in that environment? By the way, it’s not just like the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. It’s MoMA, and the Whitney, and whatever all of these museums are funded by Zionist funders, and also war profiteers and all of the worst people.

LB: What I’ve learned about PACBIfrom PACBI organizersis that PACBI should never be used as a threat. It should always be invited as an open conversation with the idea that maybe the institution is not willing now but might be in the future. And so, a threat closes the door, but a dialogue leaves it open. But I do wonder what the strategy is there? Is this the time to use BDS as a threat? Like: If you don’t sign on to BDS, I won’t do X with you. Or is it not? I think that’s maybe the open question.

AA: Amy, I want to ask you something, because I know you’ve had a long career in this world and have had to navigate a lot of art world dynamics around money. How have you navigated in the past around where the money comes from? How do you think about these kinds of things when you’re thinking about your own work?

AT: I don’t think I’ve had to deal with this a lot. Honestly, I’ve had one collector whose politics I completely found abhorrent, and I had to really ask myself: Do I want them to own my work? Do I want to get money from them? And so, we went out to lunch three times, and we really talked about how they hold those positions, and where they came from. I don’t think we met in any kind of middle ground. But as artists, I don’t think we get to determine the end life of our work. If we’re going to be in this circulatory system of the art world, whether it’s sales or exhibitionsI mean, I can refuse it, but it’s kind of interesting to me that someone like them would want my work. I did have to wrestle with that. I think that the imperfection of all this, it’s just veryit’s a mirror world, also.

LB: I think questions about money in the art worldalso, we have to ask ourselves questions about: What are we hoping for in our institutions or museums? Are we really expecting them to be a neutral space, ever? Is there such a thing as a neutral space, or is the idea that they might be neutral the problem in and of itself rather than whether they truly are? These are questions that people who study museums have far more intelligent things than me to say about, but for me, one of the things that I’m thinking about is questions of neutrality, or non-neutrality, and how embedded they are (and how invisible they often are) when we assume there is a neutral. And that’s so much of what my work is about, is trying to talk about what’s unseen, or what can’t be seen, or what’s assumed. And this has to do with our institutions as well.

AT: I think that’s a great statement. Is the JCM trying to be neutral? Did they have a point of view before they reviewed all the material, all the submissions, that they were going to have a plurality and be, quote, “neutral?” I think that’s an important question, but I don’t know.

LB: One thing that I’ve seen so far in the reporting about this is this question about whether the demands are reasonable or unreasonable. I feel like that’s beyond the point. The point, oftentimes, of activism, is to make the unreasonable seem reasonable, right? Like it probably never seemed reasonable to integrate this country at a certain point, and now, it’s assumed to be reasonable. So I think those ways of swatting it away are maybe missing the precise point of what making a quote unquote “unreasonable” demand is.

AA: Yeah. I guess the problem that I had with the statement was really actually tonal, in a certain way. I don’t mean to tone police it, but I do think it’s something worth looking at as we move into an environment that’s going to be changed by October 7, an institutional environment. We may find that there’s actually more space for anti-Zionist voices. and we also may find that we cannot be a part of them nonethelessas you’ve been talking about, Liat. But I do think, the way that the curators came with a lot more transparency and a lot of desire to have these people in the show, the response seemed almost fitted to a different kind of situationmore to the situation that we’ve been in in the past, where there were red lines, where they didn’t accept us, where they didn’t want to have the discussion, and where we had to fight back. I feel like actually, we may need to learn to calibrate our refusal to the kinds of terms that are being offered to usjust to be more honest about where we are and also to maybe invite them into a different kind of discussion. Even if the discussion is not the show, even if the discussion is actually a question about where we go from here and what kinds of actions are possible.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of On the Nose. As always, subscribe to JewishCurrents.org, and thank you to our producer Jesse Brenneman for always doing such a good job. Talk to you later, everyone.

May 16 2024
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As protest encampments have forced a reckoning with the meaning of Zionism, Jewish Currents staffers discuss the different ways they describe their opposition to Jewish statehood and supremacy.
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Controversy at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (this page)
Two anti-Zionist artists discuss their divergent decisions to stay or pull out of a group show at San Francisco’s Jewish art museum.
Apr 26 2024
Chevruta: Understanding Aaron Bushnell’s Sacrifice (38:51)
Rabbi Lexie Botzum leads Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel in a chevruta exploring how much we must sacrifice for justice.
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Jewish Organizing at Columbia’s Encampment (41:58)
Jewish Currents speaks with three student organizers at Columbia about their experience at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment.
Apr 11 2024
Unpacking the Campus Antisemitism Narrative (42:55)
Jewish Currents staff discuss recent campus antisemitism reporting and consider its consequences.
Mar 28 2024
Campus Politics Takes the Stage in "The Ally" (38:06)
Arielle Angel, Alisa Solomon, and Fargo Nissim Tbakhi discuss The Ally, a new play about campus politics and liberal Jewish discomfort with the left.
Mar 14 2024
Language, the Media, and Palestine (34:46)
Arielle Angel talks to Ali Gharib, Dalia Hatuqa, and Jazmine Hughes about the language the media uses to discuss Israel/Palestine, and what it says about the state of journalism today.
Feb 22 2024
Hindu Nationalism’s New Temple (33:03)
Aparna Gopalan talks to Siddhartha Deb, Angana Chatterji, and Safa Ahmed about what India’s Ram Mandir means for the country’s minorities.
Feb 8 2024
Israel’s Emerging Religious Left (30:58)
Maya Rosen speaks with Mikhael Manekin, Nechumi Yaffe, and Dvir Warshavsky about the movement of observant Jews offering a left-wing alternative to Religious Zionism.
Feb 1 2024
Charging Israel with Genocide (38:59)
Mari Cohen speaks with Noura Erakat, Darryl Li, and Tony Karon about the International Court of Justice’s order that Israel must prevent genocidal acts.
Jan 3 2024
Labor’s Palestine Paradox (39:44)
Jeff Schuhrke, Zaina Alsous, and Alex Press in conversation with Aparna Gopalan about US unions’ response to the war on Gaza.
Dec 28 2023
Bonus Episode: Mailbag (42:35)
Arielle Angel, Nora Caplan-Bricker, Nathan Goldman, and Mari Cohen answer reader questions.
Dec 21 2023
Hamas: Past, Present, and Future (33:50)
Peter Beinart speaks to two political analysts from Gaza, Khalil Sayegh and Muhammad Shehada, about Hamas’s reign.
Dec 8 2023
Talking to Our Families (50:05)
Jewish Currents and Unsettled discuss callers' messages about how they are talking to loved ones who are supportive of Israel’s war on Gaza.
Nov 16 2023
Naomi Klein on Israel’s “Doppelganger Politics” (52:09)
Arielle Angel talks to Klein about her new book, Doppelganger, and how the concept of “doubling” can elucidate the present violence in Israel/Palestine.
Nov 9 2023
Cori Bush’s Ceasefire Plea (25:46)
Senior reporter Alex Kane interviews Rep. Bush about her call for an end to Israel’s bombing campaign and the political consequences of anti-war dissent.
Oct 31 2023
A Surge in American Jewish Left Organizing (41:34)
Mari Cohen speaks with Elena Stein, Eva Borgwardt, and Emmaia Gelman about how Jewish left groups are bringing thousands of protestors into the streets.
Oct 26 2023
The Loneliness of the Israeli Left (37:16)
Arielle Angel speaks with Michael Sfard, Sally Abed, and Yair Wallach about the Israeli left’s experience of October 7th and its aftermath.
Oct 19 2023
Unsettled After October 7th (51:52)
The Unsettled podcast speaks with scholar Tareq Baconi and Gazan activist Isam Hamad.
Sep 28 2023
Elon Musk, the Jews, and the ADL, with Know Your Enemy (01:05:14)
Alex Kane, Mari Cohen, and Peter Beinart discuss the contradictions of the Anti-Defamation League with Know Your Enemy’s Sam Adler Bell.
Sep 14 2023
Trans Halakha (44:24)
Nathan Goldman talks to three members of SVARA’s Teshuva-Writing Collective—Laynie Soloman, Alyx Bernstein, and Rabbi Xava de Cordova—about reimagining halakha for trans life.
Aug 31 2023
Nosegate (28:36)
Arielle Angel talks to Rebecca Pierce, Jody Rosen, and Alisa Solomon about Bradley Cooper’s turn as Leonard Bernstein—wearing a prosthetic nose.
Aug 17 2023
The Jewishness of Oppenheimer (47:05)
In an episode presented in partnership with The Nation’s podcast The Time of Monsters, Mari Cohen, Jeet Heer, David Klion, and Raphael Magarik discuss Christopher Nolan’s new biopic about the infamous physicist.
Aug 3 2023
Camp Kinderland at 100 (57:18)
Judee Rosenbaum and Mitchell Silver talk to Arielle Angel about the storied summer camp, founded by Jewish unionists in 1923.