This was partly written for other Jewish people who have often been silent about their thoughts about Israel/Palestine with family and publicly, and to encourage people to have conversations. Palestinians have been urging non-Palestinians to speak out this week. I want to encourage Jewish people to listen to Palestinian people who are talking about their homeland and how the state of Israel has devastated their lives. If you do choose to read this, please read the entire post.
I was raised, throughout my education and childhood, to believe that a Jewish militarized nation state was necessary because of the Holocaust and so many other times throughout history that Jews were displaced and murdered. Growing up in Winnipeg, my grandfather feared for his safety leaving the house, sometimes carrying around a homemade “cat o’ nine tails” weapon in case he had to defend himself against people who hated him because he was a Jew. No country wanted Jews. I heard these statements of our history thousands of times throughout childhood. How so many people wanted to exterminate us, but we survived. How we were displaced for so long and needed a safe home. Antisemitism is not as public as it once was— what is considered newsworthy now was normalized and often unreported— but from personal experiences alone, I can tell you, it is there still, in microaggressions and so much more that is not reported. At the same time, there is a push by many Zionists to equate criticism of the Israeli state and all anti-Zionism with anti-Antisemitism and hate speech, which is so dangerous and undemocratic in my opinion. Antisemitism is something many Jewish children are aware of and when they hear their grandparents’ stories, they feel their anger, fear, and distrust of the world. My grandfather was a Zionist.
When I was in elementary school, I learned a quote by Golda Meir (4th prime minister of Israel): “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us”. I was directly taught this quote. This quote contributed to Islamophobic and racist beliefs that lingered in my mind for several years. This quote is unfair, untrue, and should never have been taught to me in elementary school. No context can justify this quote being taught to me as evidence that Palestinians teach their children to hate and do not love their children in the same way that Jewish parents love their children. I can’t remember who taught me this exactly, but I know it was a trusted adult in my life. We were taught about Jewish heroes alongside leaders in Israel, brave founders of the tiny state surrounded by violent countries all wanting to annihilate the little strip of holy land in the desert that Jewish people made lush. This was the narrative I heard from many adults in my life, from my community, from my teachers. This is what Jewish kids raised in Zionist institutions are taught. We recited Hatikvah, the Israeli National Anthem in our Hebrew immersion program, adapted from a poem by a Jewish poet from Złoczów (now Zolochiv, Ukraine), a city in Galicia in the late 1800s. I found this online translation:
As long as within our hearts
The Jewish soul sings,
As long as forward to the East
To Zion, looks the eye –
Our hope is not yet lost,
It is two thousand years old,
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
The longing for a safe home and the feeling of being exiled has been passed down for generations in Jewish families, which is what makes this unwillingness on the part of many Jewish people to critique the state of Israel and sympathize with Palestinians so difficult to understand.
The state of Israel, as it exists and has existed since its initial violent colonization is devastating and it is currently apartheid. It is harmful to Palestinians from Palestine and it is harmful to Jewish people all over the world, including Israel, and to others living in Israel, like migrant workers. This writing is not meant to convince you of anything, but I hope that you can at least respect where I’m coming from.
When I first wrote this post, I thought it would be enough to write the paragraph above and then describe, throughout the writing, several examples of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, but after speaking with family, I now know that there is so much misinformation about apartheid, that many readers will not be able to connect the points I make below to the realities of apartheid unless I explicitly provide a framework for understanding apartheid. So many people do not understand what apartheid means and are taught to dismiss all criticism that includes this word and other “extreme” sounding words as the rhetoric of propaganda. Another important distinction to communicate is what “legal” and “illegal” mean when they are being used; for example, when you say “illegal” or “legal”, are you referring to Israeli law and policy or international human rights-related law and crimes of apartheid? For clarification to anyone who might come across this writing, I want to explain what I mean by the word “apartheid”, since I now know this has been a barrier for others to understand where I am coming from. *Paragraph added on May 24th, 2021.
Here is an explanation of apartheid summarized from the introduction of the 213 page report published by the Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, with headquarters in New York City, that conduct research and advocacy on human rights all over the world. This report is based on Israeli government policy and practices in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem:
Originally “coined in relation to South Africa, apartheid today is a universal legal term. The prohibition against particularly severe institutional discrimination and oppression or apartheid constitutes a core principle of international law. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court (ICC) define apartheid as a crime against humanity consisting of three primary elements:
- An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.
- A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.
- Inhumane acts.” (intro to the human rights report summarized here: https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/04/27/abusive-israeli-policies-constitute-crimes-apartheid-persecution )
Some things found in the 213 page Human Rights Watch report:
“Across Israel and the occupied territory, Israeli authorities have sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers. The authorities have adopted policies to mitigate what they have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.
To maintain domination, Israeli authorities systematically discriminate against Palestinians. The institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel face includes laws that allow hundreds of small Jewish towns to effectively exclude Palestinians and budgets that allocate only a fraction of resources to Palestinian schools as compared to those that serve Jewish Israeli children.” (summarized here: https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/04/27/abusive-israeli-policies-constitute-crimes-apartheid-persecution from https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution )
“Many of those in the occupied territory constitute severe abuses of fundamental rights and the inhumane acts again required for apartheid, including: sweeping movement restrictions in the form of the Gaza closure and a permit regime, confiscation of more than a third of the land in the West Bank, harsh conditions in parts of the West Bank that led to the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians.
Many of the abuses at the core of the commission of these crimes, such as near-categorical denial of building permits to Palestinians and demolition of thousands of homes on the pretext of lacking permits, have no security justification.
These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.
The report found that the elements of the crimes come together in the occupied territory, as part of a single Israeli government policy. That policy is to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territory. It is coupled in the occupied territory with systematic oppression and inhumane acts against Palestinians living there.” (summarized here: https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution )
“Israel carries out various acts that are prohibited by the UN Apartheid Convention including:
- Forcible transfer of Palestinians to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.
- Preventing Palestinians from returning to their homes and lands (including millions of refugees living in exile).
- Systematic and severe deprivation of fundamental human rights of Palestinians based on their identity.
- Denying Palestinians their right to freedom of movement and residence (especially, but not limited to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip).
- Murder, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty.
- Persecution of Palestinians because of their opposition to apartheid.”
(Quotes above, summarized from the Human Rights Watch report, were quoted from: https://waronwant.org/news-analysis/israeli-apartheid-factsheet )
Another resource on apartheid from B’Tselem (“in the image of” in Hebrew), the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: https://www.btselem.org/apartheid
What will follow in this writing are examples of how Israel has enacted apartheid and ethnic cleansing, as well as my personal experience of why I did not question the harmful realities of Zionism, as the ideology dominantly exists now, for so long. I hope readers will be able to see or relate to many barriers that Jews face for reaching a deeper understanding of larger systems of oppression, and the difficulties of speaking out within Jewish communities to share criticism of Israeli/Jewish government, Zionism, leadership, and Jewish institutions. I hope this writing, instead of polarizing Jewish readers, will encourage Jews to have more conversations, focus on shared experiences and beliefs, and find bridges to reconcile some of these misunderstandings. I am not saying that all Jewish people who believe in Zionism are bad or racist people, I am trying to contextualize why many Jews hold onto these beliefs and share my experience. A family member recently wrote me about how many Zionists now are grappling with the death of what they once believed was a beautiful dream made real, to have a safe home for Jews always in the land our ancestors were displaced from, that we feel connected to historically and culturally. When I originally wrote the first draft of this blog post, I had not considered how certain words I used would cause an emotional response in Zionist readers, who are at some level all grasping with the devastating reality and loss of this dream. I had not considered how that would cause Jewish Zionists to immediately disengage, act defensively, and seek information elsewhere that they believed I must not have known, including succumbing to click bait right wing propaganda that manipulates Jewish people’s fear and heavy emotions surrounding Israel. I am going to carry this knowledge forward in future conversations I have with other Jewish people. * Above 10 paragraphs (clarification on apartheid) added on May 24th, 2021.
Some initial background of the history of the violence of the Israeli State: During what is referred to as the Nakba by Palestinians (Arabic for catastrophe), at the founding of Israel, over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from Palestine (including expulsions since). Many Jews and many Israelis refer to this series of devastating events as Israeli Independence. Almost 300,000 Palestinians had been expelled before the onset of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Many Palestinians and anti-Zionists feel that the Nakba has never ended. I was never taught about the Nakba. I was never taught that Palestinians represent multiple faith backgrounds: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Samaritan, Baha’i, and more. There is so much I was never taught. In Israel, public discussion of the Nakba is punishable by law and discouraged; “The “Nakba Law” authorizes the Finance Minister to reduce state funding or support to an institution if it holds an activity that rejects the existence of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” or commemorates “Israel’s Independence Day or the day on which the state was established as a day of mourning.” ( https://www.adalah.org/en/law/view/496 ). This means that Palestinians (and other civilians and organizations) in Israel/Palestine are severely discouraged and punished for acknowledging the devastating crisis, the Nakba, as a day of mourning.
Israel was established through settler colonialism (like Canada), temporarily relying on the British empire which had officially gained control of Palestine as a British mandate in 1922 after WW1 (previously under Ottoman control), as a means to gain more autonomy over the region and disenfranchise Palestinian civilians. The British produced the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which promised a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. (statistics and facts from https://decolonizepalestine.com/intro/palestine-throughout-history/; though you can find more info about the history of Israel/Palestine in many sources including Wikipedia by googling “history of Israel”, etc.. on Wikipedia pages about the “history of Israel”, “Jews in Israel” and so on, Wikipedia often doesn’t even refer to the Nakba and many other cruelties enacted on Palestinians during the history of the Israeli State; by what these articles leave out, they are not always neutral. You can Google the Nakba and find a Wikipedia page of course, but I feel that the absence of this history on other pages related to Israel is intentional. The colonial British empire, that devastated the world and brought violence to so many people, was integral to the creation of Israel; their intentions were strategic and self-serving with no concern for either Palestinians or Jews. More facts and resources about this here. I know that there is a lot of history left out of what I write. I am sharing some thoughts about what I was taught and what was left out of my Jewish education. I feel like I have to reiterate (based on some of my family’s reactions), please don’t assume what I or others know or do not know from this post. This post is not written about the entire history of the middle east, and I never claimed that it was.
Growing up, I was taught that an underground Jewish resistance bravely fought a Guerrilla war against the British for control of Israel and to get the British out, and believed for years this was the main narrative, but it is only one narrative in a larger story that includes the displacement of Palestinian people, villages being strategically ethnically cleansed by the Zionist movement, villages bombed, personal property lost and destroyed. To give more background, the Jewish insurgency against the British was a response to British immigration restrictions, and the Jewish Resistance Movement was eventually formed, made up of the Haganah, and the Irgun and Lehi underground militias (2 right-wing groups); but the JRM dissolved after the terrorist attack on the King David Hotel for which the Irgun initially claimed responsibility and after Operation Agatha and Operation Shark (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_insurgency_in_Mandatory_Palestine). After escalating violence and insurgency from these groups, in the fall of 1947, the British cabinet decided to evacuate Palestine. In November 1947, the UN put forth the Partition Plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab States; this triggered a civil war between Jews and Arabs. In the Partition Plan, a minority population of settlers, Jewish Zionists, were offered the majority of the land. (Jews have lived in that region historically and were displaced— but in the 1940s, Jews were still settlers that displaced Palestinians living there). The partition plan was never implemented, and it was rejected by Palestinians; though Israel publicly and officially appeared to accept the plan, they were not happy with the territorial limits. *correction to previous poorly worded statement. Then, in 1948, the British Mandate ended and Israel declared independence. This triggered the Arab-Israeli war where Israel fought against neighboring Arab states. This is a small overview and I know many people reading this might know more about the history. I also know that Israel is “more considerate” than some other colonial countries that enact violence to maintain control of their borders, and I know how. If you hold onto the belief that there would have been peace long-term in Israel/Palestine if Palestinians had not officially rejected the Partition Plan— what makes you believe this? Here is a good resource that may help you think critically about that belief. If you believe that Israel has every right to enact violence within the perimeter of their laws — think more about laws historically, about who makes the law and who benefits from the law.
Have things that have been legal and illegal always been fair? No, of course not. Really often not. Zionists bring up the Holocaust so often, as if the trauma Jews have experienced historically many times overrides the trauma Jews have since enacted on others. In Nazi Germany, there were so many supposedly “legal” ways that Jews were harmed, and so many supposedly “legal” ways that Jews were discriminated against in Germany and other countries around the world. Laws change all the time (the abolition of slavery, LGBTQ+ legislation, prohibition…) National biased laws should never be used as a valid reason to justify harmful actions of any state or country. Laws and agreements need to change overtime because they are made by those in power to often enact control and harm on those who have less power, and they are based on popular nationalist ideologies of whatever time they are formed. And our ideologies, the things we believe are true, the things we think define us and connect us, naturally shift over time. And I think this is healthy and necessary. The definition of Zionism has shifted over time. If many of the Zionists in the early 1900s were alive now, they would unfairly be considered anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic by contemporary Zionists. We need to be able to admit when we have made mistakes, enact change, and hold institutions, leadership, and complicit communities of people accountable, including in government and other powerful systems that use their power in the perimeters of their biased laws to justify oppression of anyone. That is why international human rights watch groups were formed. *Paragraph added May 26th, 2021, based on a conversation with a family member recently.
As a Jewish kid, I was raised with the narrative that all Palestinians only left Palestine because they were told by their own leadership to flee so that the Jews could be annihilated by the bordering armies and then they could return home. This lacks evidence, and even if someone believed this or it were true for a small percentage of Palestinians, it does not justify denying Palestinian people the right to return to their homes and be with family. For years, I believed this narrative, but the founding of Israel and the continued enactment of Israel’s dominant Zionist ideologies could not have happened without Palestinian civilians being intentionally displaced by the Zionist movement. Again, here is a resource written by Palestinians. (It is not “Hamas propaganda” as many people have dismissed it for; it speaks to the history of Israel/Palestine from the Perspective of Palestinians. “Decolonize Palestine is an independent, self-funded project founded by two Palestinians living in Ramallah. The research and writing for these articles have been a labor of love spanning over a year, which we plan to continue and improve upon going forward. While we are proud of this work, we know that it is has only scratched the surface of this project’s potential.”) This is a great article, but devastating, about the Israeli massacre of Arabs in Lydda in 1948: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/10/21/lydda-1948, and here is a documentary about Lydda.
My dad was born and raised in Israel/Palestine. He saw friends die fighting for the state of Israel, and his friends die in the violence of airport bombings. My dad is a passive, non-violent person, who has never even shouted at me, but he enacted violence in the IDF, as every soldier does. My grandmother worked at the British embassy in Israel as a secretary. Most Israeli kids grow up proudly serving in the IDF as a right of passage. I was born in Jerusalem and given an Israeli name in Hebrew, of a plant that grows in the desert. I have never felt comfortable with my name, have difficulty pronouncing it, and often choose to go by an abbreviated version (not because I am ashamed of it being a Hebrew or Jewish name). I just want to provide context to share some of the ways I feel alienated from my Jewish and Israeli identity; this includes my inability, throughout my life, to share my thoughts about Israel with my community or question Zionism. My immediate family moved to Canada when I was less than a year old, and I have lived in Canada my entire life. I have Israeli citizenship, because I was born there, and can visit Israel any time. As a kid, I would proudly tell people that I was born in Israel, as this special part of my identity that made me unique and helped explain why I felt so different and had such a weird name. I owned an IDF t-shirt that my dad bought for me. I even wore it to school. At around 19, I went on birthright, skeptically, because I had heard that they provide a one-sided perspective of Israel and of “Jerusalem syndrome”, but I still went, and befriended young soldiers, and went sightseeing, and thought Israel was beautiful. By the way, on birthright, they hand out maps to young Jews that do not even acknowledge the Palestinian occupied territories (The West Bank), conflating them with Israel’s borders, and effectively erasing the everyday lived reality of Palestinians, and discouraging difficult questions and group discussion.
For many years, I allowed this narrative of Israel needing to exist exactly as it does to be spun around me like a web, around my identity as a Jewish person.
Many Israelis and Jewish people are critical of the state of Israel as it is, but it is something that is difficult for Jewish people to speak about and especially to speak publicly about, although we should. I think it has something to do with Jewish people feeling the trauma of their grandparents and survivors of the Holocaust, and feeling the absence of so many Jews who died during the Holocaust; since most Jewish kids are raised to associate Israel with Jewish rights and freedoms as a response to the Holocaust, they feel guilt for questioning, and if they question, they are often shamed by family members and community, bombarded with propaganda and one-sided rhetoric that is often racist (however unaware).
A lot of centrist Jews are also silent (who consider themselves neither right wing or liberal or Zionist or anti-Zionist), and who are numb or apathetic to the crisis, believing that there is no solution and unsure of what to say or do. Here is an article recently shared with me by a family member which speaks to this and suggests 8 immediate actions that the Israeli State could take to work towards more peaceful co-existence. A few people in my family are silent, though I know many share my criticism of the Israeli State. *Paragraph added May 25th, 2021.
I think this silence also has something to do with feeling the weight of that desire of Jewish survivors to have a safe place for Jewish people, which is what I also want. But Israel is not the embodiment of this dream as it is, contrary to what many Jewish people are raised to believe. Israel is an illusion of security built on violence and trauma. As it exists and has existed, it will never be a safe and stable home for Jews. Because so many Jewish people have spent their lives enabling the state of Israel to continue existing as it does, and because so many Jewish people have died for this fraught dream, including family members and friends, it is difficult to have these discussions with each other. But we should. We need to. As colonizers and settlers in Israel/Palestine and as settlers on colonized Indigenous land across the world, Jewish people are privileged, and must recognize the unjust power imbalance between Palestinians and Jews in Israel/Palestine.
I know by writing this, I will upset some of my family, as well as Jewish people whose identities are tied so deeply to the idea of Israel. If you sacrifice so much for an identity that you were raised to embody, or claim that identity for yourself at a vulnerable time in your life and find community, belonging, and purpose in that identity, it is difficult to let it go. Israeli civilians are raised to believe that they and their families will be murdered by Palestinians if they do not spend their lives fighting for the security of the state of Israel. Jews are taught that if they allow Palestinian refugees to return to Israel/Palestine, Arabs will attempt to exterminate all Jews. Jewish people around the world are raised to believe that we need Israel to exist as it does because of the violence against Jews throughout history. If you are critical about Israel at all, you are often labeled a “self-hating Jew” or anti-Semitic by people who believe in Zionism (which, as it is enacted now and at its foundations, is colonial).
Throughout my life, I have seen young Jewish people who are shunned and talked about in a degrading way by members of my community and family for sharing their criticism about Israel or publicly showing support for Palestinian rights. In Winnipeg, several years ago, a young Jewish playwright and activist for Palestinian rights was vocally taking part in the BDS movement and attending Free Palestine rallies (Jewish people are also taught misinformation about what “Free Palestine” means, which I will get to later), and I remember the entire Jewish community I knew, including most people in my family, spoke about him in such a degrading and hateful way, and organized pro-Israel counter-protests. The amount of vitriol he was subjected to deeply affected me, and made me question how he was being treated, and why everything he was saying was ignored or rejected so severely. That was one of many examples for me, that criticism of the State of Israel and Zionism would not be tolerated. At the time, even though I knew on some level how he was treated was unjust, I still felt he had somehow betrayed Jewish people. Now I know that he was trying to advocate for human rights and was deeply considering the long-term safety and morality of other Jews. He received a Manitoba Human Rights Award in 2018. *Paragraph added May 26th, 2021
In my experience, Jewish people are too frightened and intimidated to share their criticism of Israel publicly. That alone is a sign of a deep problem in Jewish society and a sign of how much unacknowledged trauma there is in our communities. Jewish institutions tell us that we, as Jews, are antisemitic for critiquing Zionism in how it was enacted. Communities that discourage debate and discussion, where children, youth, and adults do not feel safe sharing their thoughts, confusion, or criticism with community leaders/members, and family, are not healthy communities. In a democratic non-fascist society, different perspectives are healthy, empathetic conversation and debate is natural. In Israel, Palestinians are not treated equally to Jews and because of this, they have been harmed and traumatized, and we should be able to talk about it without being accused of being antisemitic or “extremist” or inciting murder against Jews. If some statistics will help other Jews believe the claims I make of my own experience and that I am not alone in these experiences: “In the 2018 Survey of Jews in Canada, nearly half of Canadian Jews under 30 report being criticized for expressing concern about the policies of Israel. It’s not surprising. Jewish communal organizations work hard to stifle dissent, shaming those who would question the morality of Israel and driving out anyone with a differing viewpoint.” ( https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/im-a-former-jewish-federation-ceo-and-oppose-israels-actions-against-palestinians ) You can view the public statements and broadcasts put out by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Jewish Federations, among other Jewish organizations, for examples of the way they suppress Jewish voices critical of Israel through intimidation and shame, conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, and using fear and examples of extreme and hateful behavior on the news to manipulate Jews to defend Israel at all cost. “Anti-Zionism”, for the majority of pro-Palestinian activists and people critical of Israel, means a critique of certain harmful aspects of Zionism; it does not mean that anti-Zionists think Jewish people should not be allowed to live in Israel/Palestine with self-determination— it calls for the recognition that Palestinians deserve this as well. “Anti-Zionism” is usually an informed critique of the colonial and violent aspects of Zionism. *Paragraph added on May 20th, 2021.
I am not religious, but I consider myself to be Jewish. I am proud of many aspects of Jewish culture and history, but I am ashamed of Israeli politics and violence. I do not want to address more here about Indigenous land claims, misconceptions, or any biblical justifications for rights over the land.
Claims over who Israel/Palestine rightfully belongs to should not be the focus of conversation now or used as justification for anything. If you would like to read more detail about the history of the land, the wars, and the crisis, I recommend visiting decolonizepalestine.com and reading their articles, as well as this reading list in Jewish Currents. Decolonizepalestine.com is not Hamas propaganda; they outline the history of Israel/Palestine from a Palestinian perspective and cite where they source their facts and statistics. If you spot inaccuracies, tell me. I know about the history of Jews in Israel/Palestine— that history and trauma does not negate what I am saying. I can still hold these views. The lack of Jewish perspective on websites such as Decolonizepalestine.com does not discredit what Palestinians are sharing about their experiences and history— they are centering their stories. In my experience, so often, because Palestinian-run websites do not center Jewish experiences, they are dismissed as Propaganda by Zionists. For Zionist readers who are thinking of sending your relatives Wikipedia articles about the history of Israel and the Jewish people, as if that history justifies the continued harm of non-Jews — please don’t. Speaking from my own experience, we have probably seen them and know much of this history.
There are many people living in Israel/Palestine and who have lived in Palestine and were expelled, and they all deserve to live in peace with equal rights and dignity. There is a beautiful essay (I think), a speech written by Haruki Murakami visiting Jerusalem to accept the Jerusalem prize, which speaks to this: “Always on the Side of the Egg”: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/1.5076881 (recently shared with me by a family member). I think Murakami’s distinction between human lives and systems of oppression is important, and I think that his words were carefully and sharply aimed to pierce through the biases and prejudiced beliefs of his audience, but I also understand those who might criticize Murakami for not taking a broader (arguably more impactful) political stance, and I respect those who understandably refuse to read any of his words.
I can see many Jewish people are silent right now. Some of it may be because people are having these conversations and sharing resources and engaging outside of social media. Some of it may be because they see the outright dismissal of those critical of Israel on social media and don’t want to engage with Zionist followers who will try to intimidate them into silence, including family. But, if we can, sharing information on social media and amplifying Palestinian voices is important.
A lot of Zionist Jews feel personally targeted and attacked right now; they use extremist examples of antisemitic violence or vitriol on social media and the news to assert over generalizations about pro-Palestinian rights activists or “extremists”. Most criticism of Israeli policy and elements of Zionism does not focus on individuals, like Zionist Jews, and does not incite “jew bashing” by Jews and non-Jews, despite what Zionists are being told and telling each other. After speaking with family, I now know that this is a common and harmful misconception, encouraged by Zionist institutions and Zionist leadership. Some criticism about the Israeli state does point out extremist behavior by some Zionist Jews, like the Jewish Defence League, a hate group in Toronto and across Canada who do incite violence and racism, and violent Jewish mobs in Jerusalem. I know there are some extremist people claiming to be “pro-Palestinian” who will use any excuse to incite violence and hatred, and I know there have been acts of antisemitism at some public protests, just as there have been acts of Islamophobia as well over the past week. From the sources/conversation/people I follow and everything I have seen about pro-Palestinian perspectives, the focus is on systems of oppression in Israel, and historical violence and inequality between Palestinians and Jews, not targeting Zionists individually or inciting violence towards Zionists or Jews for what they believe. There will always be extremists who enact violence or hold anti-Semitic views, but pro-Palestinian activists, millions of people, should not be stereotyped as anti-Semitic based on the actions of these extremists. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media, which I think are vital tools of organizing, but also innately breed hate, polarization, harmful viral posts, and click bait misinformation no matter what your view, the narrative probably looks a bit different (depending who you follow). On social media, responses from individuals are probably more personal and uncompassionate because I think that’s what social media encourages, and it’s difficult to have conversations this way when people are upset, hurt, and afraid. However, social media is the best tool of resistance right now for Palestinians in Gaza. No one in the occupied territories are offering the possibility of liberation to Palestinians right now, except for Hamas. *Paragraph added May 24th, 2021.
I hope this week will lead more Jewish people to listen to Palestinians and other Jews critical of the Israeli state, and sort through difficult thoughts and questions. After reading some of the comments in posts being shared about silence, reading vitriol against Israeli civilians and Jewish people, seeing propaganda being shared within Zionist institutions, and seeing click bait misinformation that fuels right wing ideologies, I wanted to respond this way. I am writing this as a Jewish person who has often feared speaking negatively about Israel to family or publicly, and as a Jewish person who can still feel in my gut the pain, anger and fear that my grandfather felt because of the violence of antisemitism, and the desire of so many Jewish people to have a safe place for Jews, for family, for future generations, and to have a home. But that is what Palestinians want, a safe space for their families, and to return home. Why is dreaming and hoping for returning to a homeland we were displaced from considered just for Jews but impossible and ridiculous for Palestinians?
From personal observation, when many Jewish people hear the word Palestine, or the phrase “free Palestine”, they feel they are being threatened and that Palestinians want to form an ethno-nationalist state and get rid of Jews, but that is not true, and it is racist. The idea of an ethno-nationalist state (and nation states) is not natural, dependent on borders (which we make up), and is inherently harmful, privileging some people over others based on race, an imagined collective identity, and often the illusion of religious entitlement. When Palestinians speak of Palestine, they are not speaking about creating an ethno-nationialist Islamist state and driving the Jews into the sea. It is clear to me, and heartbreaking, that the Jewish leadership that established Israel, the Zionist movement, many of whom experienced persecution firsthand and were displaced Holocaust survivors, never wanted to coexist with civilians in Palestine long-term and knowingly implemented violent Palestinian displacement, as if they believed they were owed the land because they were there first, or because they were Jewish (and I know it’s far more complex than this and tied to global politics of the time and, partially, the trauma of the Holocaust and other antisemitic crises). As one of many examples, Zionist leadership sanctioned Jewish settlers “employing or working with Palestinians, calling Palestinian labor an ‘illness’ and forming a segregated trade union that banned non-Jewish members.” ( https://decolonizepalestine.com/intro/palestine-throughout-history/ ). Even within the Zionist movement, many Zionists disagree that Israel should be based on ethnic nationalism; for some Jewish people who self-define as Zionists, Zionism has meant that Jews should be able to exist safely in Israel, and that should mean equal coexistence and rights with Palestinians and other settlers. Here is a podcast produced by Jewish Currents that deals with some of these dynamics. And here are really great Infographics about a lot of the terms and events I have mentioned in this post (@letstalkpalestine on Instagram).
Jewish people raised in a Zionist narrative have a difficult time condemning a corrupt Israeli government backed by the US for displacing and killing Palestinian civilians because Zionism is inseparable from the actions of the Israeli government. Yes, I know all colonial governments are corrupt and there are always problematic power dynamics with other foreign powers. But this is about Israel, because I am a Jew talking about Israel, during a crisis in Israel/Palestine. Netanyahu is on trial for corruption and Israel has been holding national elections but no one is able to win enough seats to form a coalition government. More about the grim reality of Israeli democracy here for political parties and here for election info. I am worried that Natanyahu will enact more force, using the escalating violence as leverage to win the support of far-right extremist religious groups in power in Israel, to stay in power and avoid accountability. This is terrifying to me. There is a normalization of a government that privileges Jewish people around the world far above Palestinian civilians who live in Israel/Palestine or were displaced from Palestine, a government that intentionally and illegally evicts Palestinian civilians from their homes so that Jewish settlers can take their place (illegal in the context of international law and human rights violations, though it may be legal under Israeli law). There is a lack of criticism of the power of extremist religious Jewish groups in Israel— groups that would like Netanyahu to enact more violence and force against Palestinians and believe he is too passive. Religion is so tangled in Israeli politics, government, and Zionism, and used as justification for horrific actions (like it so often has been). But what is happening now is not a religious issue or local dispute over who deserves to own Israel/Palestine. And whether it’s one person, or hundreds, or hundreds of thousands, everyone deserves dignity and safety.
From some members of my family, I have heard the argument that the actions of the IDF and some Jewish settlers are not illegal under Israeli law— but that is exactly the problem. The Israeli State will not acknowledge that it is enacting apartheid, and spreads propaganda encouraging Jewish people globally to dismiss any criticism of Israel that uses this “extreme” language. Israeli laws were designed strategically to enact apartheid. When Jews normalize apartheid, they are normalizing the displacement and disenfranchisement of Palestinians. When Jews normalize the Israeli State’s laws and actions that enact apartheid, and tell Jewish children that all Palestinians teach their children to hate, Jews are teaching Jewish children how to hate and distrust Palestinians. *Paragraph added May 24th, 2021.
People deserve to live their lives peacefully in their homes. There is no justification for children dying. As of today, 29 children have been killed in Gaza because of this recent escalation, 27 in Gaza and 2 in Israel/Palestine. Hamas, an Islamist militant group who have political power in Gaza, who fired rockets and “suicide drones” (as Hamas calls them) at Israeli civilians, do not represent the actions or beliefs of all Palestinian families in East Jerusalem in crisis right now and Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and elsewhere who have been disenfranchised for so long, court cases included or not. Shifting the focus on Hamas does not excuse the fact that people are dying. Palestinian civilians should not be blamed for their failed leadership, especially when they have so little infrastructure for leadership available, and Palestinians have nowhere to turn to except Hamas for hope.
This is not about who the holy land belongs to or was promised to, or who lived there first thousands of years ago. This is a human rights crisis that has been going on for so many years. There are people, who are Palestinian, who live in Israel/Palestine and are being treated like animals, being forced into what are effectively ghettos. People are being forced to abandon their homes so that settlers with more rights can move in and displace them. Their homes have been invaded and destroyed for decades. They aren’t allowed mobility. There is a lack of access to roads and to water. License plates regulate certain roads that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and many other cities. Israel controls water resources and supplies, with quotas available to Palestinians. Israeli military has also destroyed wells and rainwater cisterns and authorities will not approve wells in the most productive Western Aquifer since 1967. Family members are segregated, not allowed to visit Israel/Palestine. 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel/Palestine are unable to live in 68% of towns in Israel/Palestine, although, they can vote. And .3 million Palestinians living in East Jerusalem cannot vote, and Israel can revoke residency if they live outside of Jerusalem ( stats from https://twitter.com/ryepastrami/status/1391937181908938759 / https://101.visualizingpalestine.org/ ). Palestinians are all treated horribly by the Israeli government, as if they are all terrorists, not worthy of trust and dignity.
Palestinians living in the West Bank are barred from all but 38% of the West Bank, and Gaza Strip Palestinians have been barred from living outside of Gaza since 2007. There are 6.4 million Palestinians barred from returning to their home since 1948 ( www.visualizingpalestine.org/101 ). Israel controls most Palestinian natural resources, agricultural land (since the Land Acquisitions Law), and Palestinian border crossings in the west bank. In 2020 alone, Israel demolished hundreds of illegal Palestinian civilian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which left over 1000 Palestinians homeless; according to NGO B’Tselem, Palestinians in the West Bank often have no option but to build illegally as permits are so difficult to obtain from the IDF ( .https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/spike-in-demolition-of-illegal-palestinian-homes-in-2020-654248 ). In Israel, peoples’ rights are determined by their nationality, not their citizenship, and Arab Israeli citizens have less rights than Jewish Israeli citizens. “Almost half of all Palestinian citizens of Israel live under the poverty line, with a considerable percentage close to the poverty line. They also have a considerably lower life expectancy, a higher infant mortality rate, less access to education and resources as well as less municipality and government funding”. (https://decolonizepalestine.com/intro/palestine-and-palestinians-today/ / The Inequality Report). The treatment of migrant workers in Israel is also devastating (and yes, I know migrant workers are treated terribly in Canada as well).
The idea that there is no actionable and compassionate solution to the violence in Israel/Palestine but a vague hope of a two-state solution is terrifying. The Oslo accords, signed over 2 decades ago, signified an adoption of the two-state solution; no solution/plans have formed since then. I believe that Palestinian civilians who have been displaced deserve the right to return and be with family and live their lives in dignity. I also believe that Jewish civilians who live in Israel/Palestine deserve to live their lives safely in their homes, but without the injustice of displacing and disenfranchising other people (Palestinians believe this too). I feel so angry for my family in Israel, my cousins’ children, who have so little control over the situation, and I worry about riots and violence, as horrific as they already are, escalating to a civil war. I hope that my cousins’ children and my niece, and my children (if I have children) will see peace in Israel/Palestine. I feel so angry at how Israeli politics and Zionist narratives force Jewish parents and children to have strained relationships and dishonest conversations. I feel so angry that Palestinian civilians have been treated this way by the Israeli government. I am hoping for a cease-fire soon, that this will not escalate past what has already been a tragedy.
I also believe that nothing will be resolved until Palestinians are given the dignity of their basic human rights, until Palestinian refugees are allowed to return home with equal rights to Israelis. This would not happen at once, and would take a long time, but I think the possibility of hope would be a powerful weapon against violence. So many Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948 remain vacant. https://www.972mag.com/practical-return-refugees-podcast/. But I believe nothing will be resolved with the current Israeli government and Netanyahu in power (and without Netanyahu’s replacement and their replacement (and so on) working towards reparations for Palestinians). I believe nothing will be resolved until Jewish people address racism and their distrust of all Palestinians and Israel stops treating all Palestinians as a threat. I believe nothing will be resolved without Israel beginning a process of reparations to Palestinians who have been displaced, without Israel admitting that it has harmed Palestinians and failed all Jewish people. Without the polarization and demonization of Jews who, uncomfortably and with fear of personal repercussions, share their criticism about Jewish leadership and powerful Jewish institutions. Nothing will be resolved without the organizing actions of people, including Jewish people, and those in positions of power. I believe and hope that if you treat someone with humanity, they will respond with humanity. Nothing will be resolved without a different structure of Israel/Palestine that provides safety, respect, and equality to Palestinians as well as Jewish people and other settlers. Israel was formed soon after the Holocaust (although Zionism existed long before then in the late 1800s), for many out of desperation and hope, but at the sacrifice of both Palestinians and Jews. Zionists chose this sacrifice and to fight a war (with the help of global politics of the time). Israel knowingly displaced Palestinian civilians, and Palestinian civilians did not choose this war. Jewish people lived in Israel/Palestine long before the 1900s, but that does not justify the violent actions of the Zionist movement. And I believe that there is no such thing as land won “fairly” in war.
Israel has caused trauma for so many generations of Palestinian civilians and Palestinians around the world.
Israel has alienated Jewish and Israeli people from each other, from family, from their religion, from people all over the world.
Israel is not and was never the solution to preventing another Holocaust (I am addressing some of the narrative here that I was immersed in from childhood). Israel has created more violence and hatred by denying the human rights and dignity of Palestinians, and normalizing a militarized state with Israeli children raised to accept the eventual sacrifice of their lives or well-being in enacting violence for a harmful nationalistic identity built on trauma, and parents forced to accept that their children might be killed, injured, and enact violence. Youths in the IDF (including teenagers and people in their twenties) armed with machine guns stand at the entrance of grocery stores and shopping malls in Israel, performing mandatory bag and purse checks as an everyday normalcy (for everyone). I could feel the tension in people and uneasiness in the air from my first visit to Israel when I was twelve years old, from my family.
As I write this, extremist Jewish religious groups, far-right mobs, search for Arabs to enact violence; on Wednesday, a mob of far-right Israelis beat up a man because they thought he was Arab, dragging him from his car— lynchings. In Lod (previously Lydda), a city south-east of Tel Aviv, it was reported that synagogues and Jewish schools were set on fire by Arab civilians of Israel. Shops and restaurants burned in many cities. During the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, the IDF fired stun grenades and tear gas at people praying in the Al-Aqsa mosque. Hamas fired rockets into Israel from Gaza, Citing “Israeli aggression” and harassment at the mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood as the cause. If you are reading this, you have probably seen all this in the news, and it has probably escalated. None of this violence can be justified. ( https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/13/israel-gaza-airstrikes-rockets-hamas ). It is important to speak about this now because now there is public discourse, and soon there will be a ceasefire, and the temporary ceasefire will provide an excuse for the continued inaction of Jews and non-Jews; it will be used, by supporters of Israel (who believe they are acting righteously for Jewish people) as justification for the Israeli government’s violence, now, in the past, and in the future.
Israel has provided fuel to antisemitic people and antisemitism as well as racism against Palestinians. I have seen how Israeli government supporters, including large Jewish institutions, collect antisemitic news stories, which are often real and should be widely shared, but they use them to justify the Israeli government’s unchecked actions and exploit the fear of Jewish people who believe in Zionism and care deeply for the well being of their communities. People wanting to speak up for Palestinians are also unknowingly sharing popular antisemitic imagery and posts. Antisemites are taking advantage of the violence, claiming to support Palestinian rights while only spreading hatred and bating Zionists. The claim that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic is often used against Jewish people, for example, when this claim is made on behalf of all Jewish people (although not all Jewish people feel this way), “this ends up benefiting right-wing politicians and pundits who use Zionism and their support for Israel to distract from the antisemitism growing in their ranks. As the GOP allows more antisemitic conspiracy theorists into their party and refuses to denounce white supremacy and white nationalism, they use their support of Israeli government to deflect their culpability.” ( https://www.instagram.com/p/CN8V9dULMjA/ )
The narrative of Israel has discouraged Jewish people and Palestinian people from knowing and understanding each other. Critiquing the Israeli government and the colonial violence it has enacted is not antisemitic. Children are murdered through the violence of the IDF because they were born Palestinian. Palestinians do not just protest for no reason; there is a dire power imbalance, and many Palestinian civilians are acting out of desperation. And again, I am not supporting the actions of Hamas in saying this. So many people are saying these things, but as a Jewish person born in Jerusalem in Israel/Palestine, I want to say it as well. I have heard many times “but Israel has a right to defend itself” and “Israel is held to an impossible standard compared to other countries” (also rooted in violent colonialism); but this is a whataboutism argument that ultimately aims to deflect and lessen brutal actions, and suffering should not be normalized in this way. Other colonial countries should be critiqued, reparations should be made to displaced communities, and ethnic cleansing is not acceptable anywhere. “Israel has a right to defend itself”, but displaced Palestinians have no rights— this is at the root of the unrest and violence.
Jewish children are often taught that Israel is necessary as it is, for the future of Jewish people, as a place that will always be safe for Jews and as a story of Jewish success and innovation. But Israel was never a safe place for Jewish people. There has always been tension in the air, threat of war, violence, and so much grief and trauma. As I write this, many Israeli civilians, including my family, had to go into shelters after warning sirens went off in Tel Aviv this week. Palestinians in Gaza do not have bunkers during the violence. This week, riots, lynchings, stabbings, arson, shooting and violence are threatening to escalate into civil war. Tension has always been there, like fuel below what so many people believe is holy land, waiting for a catalyst to explode.
Jewish people around the world and living in Israel deserve to feel safe, but Palestinian civilians deserve to feel safe too (it should not need to be said). I hope for a just solution soon for the safety of Palestinian civilians and others who live in Israel/Palestine. I hope Israeli leaders and Israeli people will work with Palestinian leaders and Palestinian people to reach a solution, and one day soon begin reparations (or at least talking about reparations and offering real hope), pressured by those in power in the US and the international community, pressured by a compassionate public dialogue that is not rooted in hate, greed, or unjust ideologies.
That is what I’m feeling right now, and I want to encourage other Jewish people to think critically about Israel and listen to and support Palestinians.
Thank you for taking the time to read all this.
*** Please let me know if I need to correct any facts I have cited in this writing, or have phrased something poorly, or if you would like to share more resources. I am still learning and wrote this because I don’t want myself or other Jewish people to be silent, especially because of intimidation or fear that we don’t know enough to try to engage critically. I will ignore comments and messages that are not rooted in compassion and don’t take into account Palestinian suffering. Please listen to Palestinian civilians and Israeli civilians living in Israel/Palestine, and take time to read and think critically about posts before sharing them, and don’t just rely on social media. And read the perspectives of Jews who do support Israel, and try to understand why they do (that’s what I’m trying to do now).
Here are some resources referred to, referenced for this article, or that I viewed recently, and websites that may be helpful for contextualizing the crisis in Israel/Palestine:
Lydda, 1948: A city, a massacre, and the Middle East today; : https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/10/21/lydda-1948
Part of a documentary that speaks to the massacre in Lydda:
https://decolonizepalestine.com Highly recommend this site run by Palestinians, filled with articles that are accessible to navigate, linking to resources and sources of facts cited. It centers the experiences of Palestinians, and it does not include a full history of Jews in Israel and elsewhere FAQs: https://decolonizepalestine.com/faq/
Reading List from decolonizing Palestine: https://decolonizepalestine.com/reading-list/
Human Rights Watch report on Israel: https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution
Introduction to the end of an argument…Documentary by Jayce Salloum & Elia Suleiman (1990): https://vimeo.com/72835443 “With a combination of Hollywood, European and Israeli film, documentary, news coverage and excerpts of ‘live’ footage shot in the West Bank and Gaza strip, Introduction to the end of an argument… critiques representation of the Middle East, Arab culture, and the Palestinian people produced by the West. The tape mimics the dominant media’s forms of representation, subverting its methodology and construction. A process of displacement and deconstruction is enacted attempting to arrest the imagery and ideology, decolonizing and recontextualizing it to provide a space for a marginalized voice consistently denied expression in the media.”
Opinion piece on Palestinian refugees’ right of return: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/12/opinion/israel-palestinian-refugees-right-of-return.html
More on what Palestinian refugees returning to Israel/Palestine might look like: https://www.972mag.com/practical-return-refugees-podcast/
One of many news articles about the demolition of Palestinian homes: https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/spike-in-demolition-of-illegal-palestinian-homes-in-2020-654248
Hatikvah translation: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/national-anthem-of-israel/
Helpful infographic debunking some myths about Antisemitism, Zionism, and anti-Zionism: https://www.instagram.com/p/CN8V9dULMjA/
More helpful Infographics about many of the events and terms I have used in this post: https://www.instagram.com/letstalkpalestine/
Basic info I used for overview on Jewish Insurgency in Palestine in 1940s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_insurgency_in_Mandatory_Palestine
Fact-based data on Palestinian displacement and disenfranchisement in Israel/Palestine: https://101.visualizingpalestine.org/
The Present (short Palestinian-directed film) on Netflix: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11474480/
https://www.haaretz.com (Israel/Palestine news source)
Antisemitism tagged posts on Haaretz: https://www.haaretz.com/misc/tags/TAG-anti-semitism-1.5598882
Facts debunking the media reporting on some of the violence at recent peace protest in Toronto involving the Jewish Defence League (JDL): https://www.cjpme.org/pr_2021_05_18_violence_toronto
An article about how words, like “woke”, “cancel culture”, and “critical race theory” can be weaponized against us by those in positions of influence to obscure the realities of how much we agree on, to keep us in disagreement and prevent us from having meaningful good faith conversations; we can be using the same words and believe that they mean different things, and not realize that really, beneath these words and this misunderstanding, we are not disagreeing about as much as we think: https://inthesetimes.com/article/politics-woke-cancel-culture-socialism-critical-race-theory
Podcast: Listen: Organizing Jews & How To Talk to Your Family: https://jewishcurrents.org/listen-in-this-moment-tough-questions/
Podcast: “Sheikh Jarrah and What Feels Different This Time about Israel/Palestine with Josh Leifer of Jewish Currents” https://goodbye.substack.com/p/sheikh-jarrah-and-what-feels-different
Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism (I don’t agree with everything articulated here, but this distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is important): https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/mar/07/debunking-myth-that-anti-zionism-is-antisemitic
What Does “From the River to the Sea” Really Mean?: https://jewishcurrents.org/what-does-from-the-river-to-the-sea-really-mean/
“The Zionist fallacy of ‘Jewish supremacy'”: https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2019/1/9/the-zionist-fallacy-of-jewish-supremacy
“This paper was drafted by the Nexus Task Force, which was a project of the Knight Program on Media and Religion at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at USC, examining the issues at the nexus of antisemitism and Israel in American politics”: https://israelandantisemitism.com/understanding-antisemitism-at-its-nexus-with-israel-and-zionism-white-paper/
Why Palestinians are Protesting: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/16/palestinians-protesting-live-regime-oppression
Palestinian Freedom Isn’t a Threat to Jews: https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/05/the-struggle-for-palestinian-freedom-isnt-antisemitic
On the history of Israel/Palestine: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/05/israel-palestine-gaza-hamas-history/618896/
Life Under Occupation: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/us/israel-gaza-conflict.html?referringSource=articleShare
Call of Duty: https://jewishcurrents.org/call-of-duty/
“How Israel is turning Sheikh Jarrah into another Hebron”: https://www.972mag.com/sheikh-jarrah-hebron-shuhada-police/
A really great collection of articles that provide important background info on the crisis in Israel/Palestine: https://jewishcurrents.org/contextualizing-the-crisis-in-israel-palestine/
We are not numbers: https://wearenotnumbers.org/home/About
Independent Jewish Voices: https://www.ijvcanada.org/
Jewish Youth speaking out on the inadequacies of their Jewish eduCation and lack of information taught to them about Israel/Palestine history: https://younevertoldme.org/
Jewish Israeli Dissent (JID), a network of Jewish Israelis engaging critically with the politics and history of their home country.: https://jidleipzig.wordpress.com/prinzipien/
Videos of Jewish Youth sharing their experiences about their Jewish education about Israel/Palestine: https://younevertoldme.org/new-page
This is an article about Ramah Jewish Camp and their refusal to allow their instructors to incorporate any critique of Israel and education on Palestinian disenfranchisement into their programs: https://www.timesofisrael.com/conservative-camps-defiant-after-criticism-of-counselors-on-left-wing-course/
This is an article about teaching kids about Israel/Palestine from an anti-oppressive framework, including Educational resources: https://xjusticexpeace.medium.com/courageous-conversations-about-israel-palestine-in-schools-5633fe085ad6
I am very critical of The Times of Israel, for their often narrow focus in most of the articles published, so much racism and Islamophobia embedded in the articles, and blatant propaganda pro-Israel intent of many of these articles and think pieces. Please visit their website and read the articles critically for yourself
See the Times of Israel article my family member sent in response to the writing in my blog article “Academia is failing Israel and Palestine Again” Feel free to reach out to me about my thoughts about this: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/academia-is-failing-israel-and-palestine-again/
See Times of Israel”Top general: This Gaza conflict will be a success if it brings 5 years of calm”: https://www.timesofisrael.com/top-general-this-gaza-conflict-will-be-a-success-if-it-brings-5-years-of-calm/
See “I’m Fed Up”. This was was painful for me to read, because I could feel the frustration and fear behind the words and the willful ignorance of the violence that has been enacted on behalf of Zionism by the Israeli State. This went viral on social media (almost 43,000 likes today) and I think articulates perfectly what so many Zionist Jews feel and what they’re also failing to ask and see, and why these conversations are difficult, and what people like me are also failing to ask and see. This article demonstrates, to me, how the author fails to understand the root of the violence, outside of the State of Israel and Hamas— the broader systems of oppression that created Israel and that fuel Hamas and extremists in Israel— the utter lack of any hope that Palestinians feel— That Israel has never offered Palestinians real peace or hope for their children and future generations to live in what was also their home, as equal citizens treated with dignity. He dismisses all criticism of Israel based on the few easy examples he cites. The author nitpicks things about some of the criticism about Israel that he sees in social media in particular (some of which are fair, like claims that Jews were never Indigenous or lived in the region, but there are endless dumb social media posts no matter what your view. (And the belief of who was there first is not the issue for most people critical of Israel or for those who support Palestinians; it should not be)— But anyway, the author uses these instances of social media or celebrity posts to dismiss ALL criticism of Israel, and that is so harmful and flawed, stereotyping all pro-Palestinian activists as extremists, violent, or uninformed. I am terrified of how many Jews clearly support his flawed simplistic logic and are praising this writing. I know this whole blog post is basically an emotional rant, but I have provided resources and context, and tried to be considerate of the views of Zionists as well as anti-Zionists or non-colonial “Zionism” (people who believe in “Zionism” but understand this to only mean the right of Jews to live in Israel safely) so as not to cause harm in my community even in sharing my experiences). He also uses blatant pro-Israel emotional propaganda that decolonizepalestine.com do a decent job of debunking in their rainbow washing section here. He claims he wrote the article in 20 minutes, and if he did, that makes it even more devastating that he shared it so quickly without a second thought to his position of influence and how it might discourage healthy debate about Israel in Jewish communities, and silence so many Jews who could provide valuable dialogue. In his stories, he has re-posted dozens of screen caps of people who support his views as well as re-posted screen caps of instances of those who don’t support his views that are rooted in anger, frustration, and in some cases hastily written words with misinformation, and hateful messages. But in doing this, with his influence and position of power, he is only inciting a polarization of views on Israel: of those views he believes are informed like him (anyone who agrees with him and expresses support through words, likes, or even or an emoji), and those who are speaking out in anger, who did not take even 20 minutes to write out their thoughts and who don’t have over 10,000 followers. In what is included and what is left out of these viral posts, I believe they verge on propaganda, and I believe that they harm our Jewish communities, pushing them to cling to polarized viewpoints without considering the vital intersecting points or values we agree on surrounding Israel. In doing so, he erases the experiences of other Jews critical of Israel, harms their credibility, and the dynamics of what they believe. So many Jewish people have been telling him how “beautifully written” “incredible” “illuminating” “amazingly written” the article is, and so much more. But I feel that it comes from a place of hatred, distrust, and an unwillingness to listen, rather than empathy and understanding. I am devastated that other Jewish people don’t see this. How can it be that the author spends the article saying that when anyone speaks up for Palestine or Palestinians they are doing the work of terrorists and supporting Hamas, but then it says he wants peace for Israelis and Palestinians and that Hamas is a horrifying terrorist organization?: In other words, when “liberals and celebrities” or influencers speak of Palestinians they can’t differentiate from Hamas, but when he, as an influencer speaks of Palestinians, he can differentiate? About the death count point he tries to make: critics of Israel are not saying that killing more Jews to equal Palestinian deaths would be fair; they are saying the death count is civilians which is a war crime, and Palestinian lives can’t be ignored or used to justify one year or even five years of cease fire. There has never been stability and peace in Israel, and in my view, Israel has never, in good faith, honestly offered Palestinians any real hope for their children’s future, despite what land they have offered. I feel that “I’m Fed Up” is a badly written bad faith argument and post that gaslights and shames Jewish people who are vocally supporting Palestinians and who have every right to share their criticism of the Israeli State, now and historically. I hope that the author will listen to other Jews who are offering criticism and a different perspective, and stop dismissing those critical as all misinformed, racist, antisemitic, hateful, or claiming they must hate Israel. Anyways, here is the article: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/im-fed-up/ https://www.instagram.com/p/CO4zVjWDDKs/
Here is an article from the Times of Israel that I do agree with that a family member sent me (although I think the focus of just providing more support and autonomy to Arab people in Israel is not enough in terms of reparations, but helpful to those who think nothing can be done or that Arabs in Israel live with equal rights to Jews) “Israel’s mixed Jewish-Arab cities are on fire. Here’s how put out the flames”: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/israels-mixed-jewish-arab-cities-are-on-fire-heres-how-put-out-the-flames/?utm_source=The+Blogs+Weekly+Highlights
Speech written by Haruki Murakami visiting Jerusalem to accept the Jerusalem prize “Always on the Side of the Egg” My brother shared this with me recently and I think it is very beautiful: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/1.5076881
Comics (because I’m me):
Footnotes in Gaza and Palestine by Joe Sacco:
No Olive Branch For Me by Nadia Shammas:
The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories by Marguerite Dabaie:
Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq:
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days Or Less by Sarah Glidden:
(Glidden has shared publicly that there are things that she would do differently now in writing about Israel from a more critical perspective (I read this in Glidden’s Instagram story this week), although I think this comic does provide a helpful account of the history of Israel/Palestine, and it did help me as a Jewish person, to engage more critically).
Diaspora Boy and other political comics by Eli Valley: