We (Allah) prescribed for the children of Israel that whoso kills a person, except for killing another or for creating disorder in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and whoso helps one to live, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind. (Al Quran 5:32/33)
Jewish Americans are at a turning point with Israel
I felt alone as a Jew attending a Palestine solidarity rally in 2014. I don’t feel alone any more
Source: The Guardian
By Arielle Angel
On Nakba Day, 15 May, amid the outbreak of war in Israel/Palestine, I attended a rally in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, to commemorate the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from the new Israeli state in 1948, and to protest against the oppression of the Palestinian people in the land between the river and the sea. From the signs I saw as part of that crowd – “This Jew will not stand by” or “Another Jew for a Free Palestine” – and from monitoring my social media feeds, it was clear that there were thousands of Jews taking part in these protests in cities all over the country.Palestinians return to damaged homes as UN calls for Gaza dialogue
For me, the conspicuous presence of larger numbers of Jews – many, but not all of them young – at every major Nakba Day protest was significant. During the 2014 assault on Gaza, I ventured out to a Palestine solidarity rally in Columbus Circle in Manhattan by myself. An ardent Zionist until that point, my worldview had been profoundly shaken by the images in the papers – Palestinian children bombed to pieces on a beach; Israelis in the rattled buffer town of Sderot gathered on hilltops overlooking the Strip, cheering as the bombs fell.
I didn’t know a single person that might accompany me to such a protest. To go at all felt like a betrayal of everything I’d ever known and loved. And yet even stronger was my anguish at doing nothing. I felt alienated by the march itself, unprepared to face the righteous anger at the Israeli state from the perspective of its victims. My heart raced when chants broke out of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – a popular protest slogan calling for equality in a single democratic state, which Jews have long been told amounts to their expulsion. I stayed another 30 minutes, then ducked into Central Park, collapsing on a bench in sobs. I’d never felt more alone.
I don’t feel alone any more. Though the years since 2014 have seen the growth of a small but committed Jewish anti-occupation movement, the last week and a half have brought an even larger circle of the community to a place of reckoning. We’ve seen Jewish politicians, celebrities, rabbinical students and others speak up loudly for Palestine. We’ve seen a powerful display of solidarity from Jewish Google employees, asking their company to sever ties with the IDF. At Jewish Currents, the leftwing magazine where I am now editor-in-chief, we asked for questions from readers struggling to understand the recent violence. We’ve been deluged.
These questions taken in aggregate paint a striking portrait of a community at a turning point. Though many queries aim to understand specific aspects of the recent round of violence – the circumstances surrounding the expulsions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, for instance, or the affiliations of the Jewish revelers dancing ecstatically opposite a fire on the Temple Mount – many more are simply expressions of confusion, and a newfound willingness to confront it head on. These questions taken in aggregate paint a striking portrait of a community at a turning point
“I know what’s happening is wrong, but does supporting Palestinian liberation mean supporting Hamas?” asks one reader. “How do I talk to my family about this?” asks another. There are people struggling with new terminology (“Is apartheid an accurate word for what is happening in Israel/Palestine? What about ethnic cleansing?”) and with the foundational events that shaped the current situation on the ground (“Was there really an expulsion of Palestinians in 1948?”). Though many of our Jewish readers are anxious about antisemitism and about Jewish safety in Israel, there are strong indications that they are beginning to separate these feelings from the moral reality on the ground. On the whole, their questions represent a genuine outpouring of curiosity and compassion about the plight of Palestinians.