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I’m Jewish and don’t support Israel

I’m Jewish and don’t support Israel

I’m Jewish and don’t support Israel
July 16
14:05 2020

On Dec. 11, 2019, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Jared Kushner in which he claimed that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. It is not surprising to see the son-in-law of President Donald Trump try to frame any opposition to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine as discrimination. However, as Israel pushes its newest plan to illegally annex more land, I feel the need to set the record straight for all the goys out there: supporting Palestinian rights is not anti-Semitic.

I am Jewish and I do not support Israel. To me, there is no birthright promise of a Holy Land that justifies the violent occupation and continued annexation of the Palestinian territories. As a secular Jew, there is no birthright at all, not for my people nor for anyone else. There is simply one historically oppressed and displaced people (Zionist Jews) who have chosen to oppress and displace another group of people (Palestinians).    

For those unsure of what all these terms mean, welcome to the broad umbrella of being Jewish. Do not expect to get a straight answer from Wikipedia. Not all Jews agree on the definition of what makes you a Jew, so the following explanation would be disputed by some. 

People of all races, ethnicities and nationalities practice Judaism and are therefore called Jews. However, there are also specific groups of ethnically Jewish people, whose identity is based on ancestry and culture instead of strictly religion. The Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews are a few examples. 

Zionism is a movement that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the historic Land of Israel, which is located in the present-day Palestinian region. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the movement has also included the use of force to “protect” said state. To supporters, Zionism is a liberation movement born out of the history of Jewish persecution. To critics, it is colonialist, racist and exceptionalism.

As a child, I was told that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was extremely complex, with both sides in the wrong. In actuality, the situation is much simpler. If you do not believe me, take it from Zionism’s founder Theodor Herzl. Assuring Cecil Rhodes, a pioneer of Great Britain’s theft of African lands, Herzl said Zionism “is something colonial.” 

To secure the current Israeli state, 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes. The offending European Jews ethnically cleansed the region of the people who were already living on the land. The Palestinians were seen as outsiders to be removed — despite the fact that they are the closest genetic neighbors to most Jewish populations. 

The brutal, militaristic colonial occupation of Palestine is similar to other historical subjugations. Continuous annexation, civilian massacres and numerous human rights violations can be seen in the treatment of the Indigenous people of America, the actions of the Islamic State and the South African apartheid. Israel’s occupation of Palestine is no different, no matter how much Israel pushes the racist narrative of an enlightened state amid the uncivilized east. 

It is surprising how far-reaching said narrative is. As a freshman, I attended the university’s student organization fair, excited to connect with other Jews. I wanted to explore our culture together in a unique setting of secular and religious individuals. Instead, I was met with a table covered in pro-Israel merchandise. A sponsored trip to the country was advertised as #birthright. It was disheartening that the most prominent Jewish organization on campus was equating our identity with the Zionist movement.  

To say anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic is like saying opposing female serial killers is sexist. It is a cowardly attempt to use a minority status to gloss over unacceptable actions. It is also an ignorant declaration that suggests all Jews are tied to and support Israel.  This is a flagrant lie.

Yes, people who are anti-Zionists can be anti-Semitic, but that would require an additional prejudice against Jewish people. Jews do not inherently support Israel. Therefore, anti-Zionists do not inherently oppose Jews. 

The Jewish people are not a homogenous group. We live in countries all across the globe. We have ties to many different cultures and each defines our identities differently. Most important, we are not some hive mind that just accepts the routine abuses carried out by Israel. There are Jews of all nationalities and religious beliefs that actively fight against Zionist campaigns. 

I am asking non-Jewish individuals to stop being afraid of opposing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine out of fear of being called anti-Semitic. 

I am also asking Jewish individuals to stop aligning with Israel just because it seems to be what is expected. Examine the conflict by yourself, simply as a person, disregarding any affiliations you may think should sway your opinion. Do not blindly support the Israeli oppression of Palestine, an abuse that mirrors the persecution we ourselves have suffered. 

Featured Illustration: Srinidhi Shukla

About Author

Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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