i am not an expert on middle-eastern history or politics. i am not an expert on judaism or islam. i am a student of liberation and abolition. i have been reading about and studying perspectives related to palestine for ten years. i say all of this to say:
you do not have to be an expert to know that settler-colonialism is violence. you do not have to be an expert to know that Palestinians deserve to live freely.
antisemitism is violence. threatening or being hateful towards jews is not a show of solidarity.
first, let's be clear about what's happening in Palestine: apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
as Mohammed El-Kurd clarifies, what is happening is a "Forced ethnic displacement," not an eviction. i will defer to Palestinians to speak for themselves about what is happening:
Israel is a word that means more than just the settler nation-state.
as non-jews we need to be thoughtful about the way we use the word Israel because it is an ancient word with many uses and meanings that pre-date the settler-colonial nation-state of modern Israel. here are some of the definitions of the word "Israel."
- a biblical Hebrew name that means "God Contended, Wrestles with God" – related to this meaning, the word "Israel" is often used to mean the Jewish people
- a place of collective imagination and a spiritual, cultural, conceptual home that jews in exile have dreamed of and referred to in prayer and ritual for thousands of years. for many jews there is a huge difference between this idea and the current Israeli state.
- a geographical location in the Middle East whose borders have been defined, redefined, and debated since at least 1025 BCE.
- a settler colonial nation state established in 1948 after the Holocaust with heavy ongoing support from the United States government to create a physical homeland for jews.
so, for me it is absolutely fuck the Israeli government, fuck the IDF, fuck the Zionist right, and free Palestine, but i will not say fuck Israel because i know that Israel is extremely meaningful as a word and concept to jews, including jews who oppose the Israeli state.
the Holocaust was an unspeakable act of genocide. period. it does not justify settler-colonialism.
i will defer to jews to speak for themselves about what is happening:
"Why am I here, when the right of return belongs to those who, for thousands of years, planted the olive trees? Why am I here since I am one of many Jewish activists in the U.S. who struggle to dismantle the Israeli settler state?...And I will be with you on the day that we tear down the colonial garrison state of Israel and Palestine is free from this racist, theocratic, apartheid imperialist occupation—the day when all those who planted the olive trees will taste the fruit of freedom...From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! Long live Palestinian Aswat!"
many jews including some Israelis oppose what the Israeli state is doing right now BECAUSE of their religion and cultural experience with the holocaust. this is why it is particularly inappropriate and antisemitic to compare jews generally to nazis.
we can and should hold the US government and US corporations accountable for divesting from the Israeli state. this is not antisemitic.
lack of support for the Israeli state ≠ being antisemitic even if someone who is jewish tells you it does.
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.
we can and should support Palestine without using or uplifting antisemitic rhetoric and language
jews ≠ Israelis and blaming jews, a marginalized group that still faces tons of antisemitism, for the violence Israel is committing in their name is not useful. many jews actively oppose what is happening in Palestine. antisemitic violence is rising globally right now today and we have to fight that as well.
my personal opinion is that holding jews accountable for denouncing Israeli apartheid and aggression is best handled by other jews.
welcome to nuance, kiddos. i can be unwaveringly and unapologetically opposed to the Israeli settler-colonial state and the apartheid violence it is committing against Palestinians without blaming all jews or elbowing my way into in-group conversations within a marginalized community. i also understand why many jews feel a need to have a physical location in which they feel safe and understand their ancestral connection to the land of Judea.
TLDR: listen to jewish and palestinian pro-palestinian activists. in addition to learning about and supporting BDS, it may be useful to support Pro-Palestinian marches in your city. i also suggest following Mohammed El-Kurd's twitter for updates from the ground. we all have a responsibility to examine our words and thoughts related to this violence to make sure we are not intentionally or unintentionally making generalizations about jews or using antisemitic rhetoric or tropes. calling out the violence perpetrated by Israel is not an example of antisemitism.
if you would like to talk more deeply to a pro-palestinian jew to learn or discuss more deeply, a dear friend has offered to be available for this type of learning. just reply to this email and i will connect you (& give you their venmo info for a suggested donation)
as always, i hope this is useful
if it was and you've got five bucks a month to spare, click here.
katie wills evans