An Open Letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Hiring of Max Berger

Dear Senator Warren:

Progressive Zionists of California is a coalition of California Democrats that stands for the fundamental right to self-determination of the Jewish people in their indigenous homeland. We affirm Israel’s right to exist as a secure and democratic Jewish state; the need for a sovereign and independent Palestinian state living in peace and mutual recognition with the Jewish state of Israel; and the need to maintain a strong bi-partisan United States relationship with Israel and Palestine.

PZC is very concerned by news that you have engaged Max Berger, a founder of IfNotNow, as Director of Progressive Partnerships for your presidential campaign. IfNotNow is a small, fringe organization which, while focusing exclusively on the “evil” of Israel, refuses to affirm Israel’s right to exist as the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. IfNotNow’s one-sided condemnation and vilification of Israel, which denies that the Palestinians have any responsibility or agency, falsifies the complex reality and history of the Middle East. Its studied agnosticism on Zionism is at odds with your own stated support for Israel.

Max Berger has personally shown himself unworthy of any position in your campaign.

He has written that Israeli treatment of Gaza is a “pogrom”.

Israel does not occupy Gaza. Gaza is ruled by Hamas, designated by the United States as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” Hamas—supported by Iran and Palestinian Islamic Jihad–is dedicated in word and in deed to the destruction of Israel. This year included, Hamas has launched tens of thousands of rockets at Israel, causing deaths and injuries, extensive property damage and widespread terror. Israel, when it is forced to take military action to stop the rockets, takes considerable care not to harm civilians. It is not always successful, because Hamas stores its weaponry in apartments, schools and hospitals. These are well-established, easily-verified facts. Calling Israeli self-defense a “pogrom” is false and deeply offensive.

Berger has written that he supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement, directed from Ramallah, is the latest iteration of the Arab Boycott and its attempt to strangle the Jewish state economically. But the BDS movement goes further: It seeks, in addition to economic sanctions, to isolate Israel academically and culturally; to fundamentally delegitimize Israel—to make it a pariah, “the Jew of nations.” Berger understands what’s at stake: he has written: “I agree with BDS, but it’s not a mistake to consider it largely anti-Zionist. For Zionists, it’s an existential question.” If your staff includes someone who openly wishes Israel to disappear, you will lose the trust of many of your supporters and your pro-Israel bona fides will disappear.

Having Max Berger on your campaign staff will inflict deep, ongoing damage to your campaign. No apology or explanation from Berger can possibly mitigate the harm he will cause you. We urge you to take this opportunity to show that being a progressive candidate for president does not demand tolerance of—much less employment of—enemies of Israel.

Sincerely, Progressive Zionists of California

Susan George

Paul Kujawsky

Founding Members