Debate over Israel, including sometimes strong criticism of its policies, is not unusual at synagogues in the United States, especially those that follow the Reform movement. The Union of Reform Judaism, an umbrella group of Reform congregations, describes itself as a movement that “accepts and supports the foundational aim of Zionism: the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people.”
At Westchester Reform Temple, rabbis have criticized Israel in the past. In his Rosh Hashana sermon in September, Rabbi Jonathan Blake criticized “extremists, cynical political officials and wealthy patrons” in Israel for promoting “a grandiose vision of Jewish totalitarianism in the biblical Holy Land.”
But their critiques never challenge the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, as opposed to a state whose structure favors no ethnic or religious group.
In the blog post, published on May 20 during last year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, Ms. Sander and a co-author, Elana Lipkin, wrote that they embraced a position that “rejects the Zionist claim to the land of Palestine.”
The post continued, “Zionism is not equivalent to, or a necessary component of, Jewish identity.”
They also described Israeli actions against the Palestinians as genocide and accused Jewish institutions in the United States of spreading “one-sided narratives and propaganda” about the conflict.
Marc Stern, the chief legal officer of the American Jewish Committee, said Ms. Sander’s lawsuit may have little chance of success because the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that religious institutions have broad leeway in employment matters.
“It seems to me a complete nonstarter that any court would say that some doctrine — whether Zionism or any other doctrine — is or is not part of the faith that a school wants to pass on to students,” Mr. Stern said.