‘Occupation is not my Judaism’

1 Dec

‘Occupation is not my Judaism’: Dozens of Jews from around the world come to practice civil disobedience in 10 days of direct action alongside Palestinian partners struggling against Israel’s 50-year military occupation.

VIDEO: +972 Magazine, 30 November 2016. Video by Lia Tarachansky and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

What happens when dozens of Jewish American activists come to Palestine to practice civil disobedience alongside Palestinians struggling against the occupation?

In the summer of 2016, dozens of Jews from the U.S. and other countries came to Palestine, at the request of Palestinian activists, to use nonviolence, civil disobedience, and their privilege as Jews to help oppose the Israeli occupation. Under the banner of “Occupation is not my Judaism,” the activists helped rebuild homes demolished by the Israeli army, facilitated an entire displaced Palestinian village’s return to to its former homes, and put their bodies on the line to challenge the Israeli military regime of segregation and settlement in Hebron.

+972 Magazine joined the Center for Jewish Nonviolence (CJNV) to see what they were doing, what drove them to stand side-by-side with the Palestinian people, and what they think they can accomplish by leveraging their privilege as American Jews in doing so. How would the Israeli army react to dozens of American Jews practicing civil disobedience, willing to be arrested alongside Palestinian activists in the West Bank?

“It’s been very easy for many of us in the liberal or progressive Zionist world to rationalize away that Israel is really an oppressor, that it is literally oppressing another people,” Rabbi Brant Rosen, a member of the CJNV delegation told +972. “This [direct action] isn’t working in a soup kitchen. This is in service of a larger goal of ending the infrastructural oppression of the occupation.”

Part of the advantage of being a self-identified Jewish group, explained CJNV executive director Ilana Sumka is its members’ ability to influence their diaspora Jewish communities back home. “The more the American Jewish community can shift its understanding about why it’s so urgent for the occupation to end,” Sumka said. “I think that will have a ripple effect in the broader American political spectrum.”

For many of the CJNV members with whom +972 spoke, that strategy is inextricably linked to personal Jewish identity. “My activism comes from a sense that there’s a strong [Jewish] imperative and obligation to treat other people well, that there are specific ways in which we have to treat the other people with whom we live — I think it’s very clear in the Torah,” explained CJNV member and Princeton student Maya Rosen. “The way that our traditions and texts have been co-opted by a specific political agenda makes me very angry. Creating separate legal systems seems to be very much against what the Torah would command.”

One Response to “‘Occupation is not my Judaism’”

  1. Gareth Smith December 2, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    Letter to Byron Echo, Byron Bay, Australia
    Dear Hans,
    Hate crimes against people of colour, Muslims and Jews have sharply escalated since the election of Donald Trump. In many parts of Europe, Australia and the UK anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-migrant racism are also on the increase. At first glance the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” which is being rushed to the US Senate floor is cause for optimism; however, this bill would classify any university campus criticism of Israeli government policies as officially anti-Semitic. For example, criticism of the Trump government’s proposal to boost Israel’s $38 billion aid package would fall foul of this legislation. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia would be sharply reduced if the state of Israel along with Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia would dramatically align their policies to comply with international human rights law. It is unacceptable that Jews and Muslims should experience prejudice fed by their respective countries’ appalling behaviour. As we approach Christmas with its traditional emphasis on goodwill to all people, let us emulate those fabulous Jews from the US and other countries who took themselves to Hebron, Palestine under the banner “Occupation is not my Judaism” to link arms in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and peace. They got their hands dirty rebuilding dwellings demolished by settlers and the Israeli Defence Force and helped to replant citrus and olive groves burned to ashes by renegade settlers (https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/occupation-is-not-my-judaism/). If Vic Alhadeff and the NSW Board of Jewish Deputies truly want to combat anti-Semitism they should start slamming Israel’s iniquitous occupation.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: