Smear: Ron Bloom Is A Socialist
Those accusing Treasury Department adviser Ron Bloom of being a socialist based on his experience at a Habonim Dror summer camp simply don't understand what the movement is all about. The camp he attended promotes traditional Jewish values like tzedakah -- which is typically interpreted as "charity," "justice," or "righteousness."
Bloom is a socialist because of the Jewish summer camp he attended in his youth.
(both via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Habonim Dror Is A Progressive Zionist Labor Movement. According to its website, "Habonim Dror (the Builders of Freedom) is a Progressive Labor Zionist Youth movement whose missions are:
- To build a personal bond and commitment between North American Jewish youth and the State of Israel.
- To create Jewish leaders who will actualize the principles of social justice, equality, peace and coexistence in Israel and North America." [HabonimDror.org, accessed 9/16/09]
Progressive Zionists Explain Habonim Dror, Refute Right-Wing Cries Of Socialism:
According to Haim Simon, national director of Ameinu, the unofficial adult arm of Habonim Dror, Bloom's attackers are misrepresenting the Progressive Labor Zionist movement.
In an interview with Media Matters Action, Simon said Habonim promotes traditional Jewish values like tzedakah -- which is typically interpreted as "charity," "justice," or "righteousness."
The official website of Habonim Dror does include the word "socialism," but Simon explained that Progressive Zionists generally use the term to refer to "social justice," not an economic system in which workers own the means of production.
Media Matters Action also contacted Sharon Waimberg, the current director of Camp Galil (where Bloom attended), who called the controversy surrounding Bloom "sad." She explained that Galil is pretty much a "regular camp with a Jewish educational focus." Like most camps, they raise the American flag every morning, sing songs, and play sports.
Campers also participate in "working groups" for 45 minutes every day because Galil doesn't employ outside cleaners. But this sort of collectivism has nothing to do with politics or economics, Waimberg said. Rather, it's meant to encourage values like community, social justice, leadership, personal responsibility, and creativity. It also creates a kibbutz-like atmosphere, which is meaningful for many Jews.
In addition, Simon dismissed the notion that all graduates of Habonim camps would adhere to one philosophy. He said that Bloom, like other campers, took the values he learned and personalized them. Indeed, in the article that first reported on Bloom's camping days, Bloom addressed how his experience influenced him.
"It's all a tapestry, and it's hard to figure out what fits where," Bloom said of his time at Galil. "We sang the songs, but it wasn't about that. It was a broader sense of identifying with the underdog, and of observing the world through a lens, through people who don't have as much and aren't as lucky."
Bloom "didn't claim he was a socialist," Simon added. "He's not talking about a socialist revolution."