activist for palestine

anonymous asked:

Salam, I'm a Muslim who is interested in understanding how Muslims can mend relationships with Jews and also how to approach conversation about Israel without being antisemitic. As a Muslim I can definitely understand to an extent the frustration Jews must feel being painted with a broad brush, and I would love to establish friendships that transcend these differences. But how do I approach a conversation about what I view is as obvious human rights violations without being insensitive?

Salam Alaikum! 

What an excellent question.  I find that interfaith dialogue is so important, especially in the current political and social climate around the world.  I commend you for asking this question.  I have found that as I learn more about other religions, I become even more humbly grounded in my own theology and grounded in peace and love with new friends.

The Isreal conversation can be divisive among Jews and Muslims, and sadly between Jewish people and between Muslim people, but it doesn’t have to be. Although it is scarily easy to paint all Jews or all Muslims as ______, as people of faith, of people of peace, and of people of love we must stand against divisiveness and work towards making a stronger tomorrow.

As a Progressive Jew, my Zionism is grounded in lovingkindness, peace, and acceptance- and not in fascism, bigotry, or the hatred often perceived as the viewpoint of the right-wing Prime Minister and his cronies.   In the same token, I am sure that your commitment to peace and support of a sovereign Palestine does not include the fascism, bigotry, or hatred often developed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.  Terrorism, Occupation, antisemitic propaganda, anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia, and other ills should have no place in this world: especially in this little strip of land that I love so much.

Before approaching a conversation on the topic, I’d like you to think about something that we learned in some of my rabbinical school classes while living in Jerusalem.  We often would talk about looking at the Conflict through different lenses and not through broad strokes.  The lens of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank who does not understand the pain of Occupation and is completely ignorant of the situation, the lens of a Palestinian child living in Gaza who is taught that murdering Jews is the right thing to do, the lens of a Christian-Arab Jerusalemite who has Israeli citizenship but lives in East Jerusalem who must go through checkpoints to get to work, the lens of a Jewish family living in a moshav near Gaza who has to run into bomb shelters multiple times each day to avoid a possible missile attack… etc etc etc.

Another lens to look through (especially from the perspective of an individual not living in Israel or Palestine) is the failure of our leadership.  I personally cannot trust a

Prime Minister of Israel who used anti-Palestinian racism to get elected in the last election, or a President of the Palestinian Authority who pays terrorists for their work, or a  Prime Minister of Hamas who said the following:  “This is a generation which knows no fear. It is the generation of the missile, the tunnel and suicide operations.”  Can we trust someone to create peace if they believe that the only peace will be one State where all the Jews are dead? Can we really trust anyone that flip-flops on peace (Netanyahu and Abbas)?

No, no we cannot.  But there are so many things that you can do- and you have already taken the first step!  Being critical of policies of the Israeli government, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority is not only important but crucial to the survival of the Jewish State and for the future of a sovereign, occupation-free Palestinian state.

Just like I will never use racist or islamophobic stereotypes to portray Palestinians (I have seen so many horrible and gross examples of this online), I would hope that activists who support Palestine avoid antisemitic stereotypes.  Additionally, we must maintain the importance of both sovereign entities and eliminate the notion that Zionism is a dirty word.  Zionism is the notion that the Jews deserve the same sovereignty in their homeland that all other nations have the privilege of having.  The most effective Palestinian activists from a Jewish perspective are those who maintain the importance of maintaining a Jewish state without using antisemitism to help their cause.

How do you criticize Israel without being antisemitic? x x

You can also support organizations which seek peace in Israel and Palestine: Roots/Shoreshim, Israel Religious Action Center, Association of Reform Zionists of AmericaBreaking the Silence etc!

You can join virtual communities online as well such as the “Jews and Muslims for Peace” Facebook Group and if your Mosque has not already formed a relationship with your local Synagogue, you can be an incredible force for good in working on developing that partnership!If you would like ANYMORE advice, answers to questions, support, help locating a liberal shul near you- please let me know!

Have a great day friend!


Also, the ‘activist identified as Zionist’ has the public position on Israel that it is good Israel exists and there should also be a free and independent Palestinian state.

And it’s just, fuck, do you guys realize what people who say ‘it is good Israel exists’ are saying? They’re not saying ‘the conduct of the Israeli military is okay’, they’re saying ‘I personally know a bunch of people who are alive because Israel existed for them to flee to when nowhere else in the world would take them in’. They’re saying ‘I have visited the mass graves of my ancestors who didn’t have anywhere to flee to.’

If the standard for being sufficiently anti-Zionist isn’t ‘condemns human rights violations and supports and works for a free Palestine’ but ‘agrees there is nothing at all good about the fact their loved ones are alive instead of being dead’ then, uh, you’re going to have a much harder time building an activist coalition for Palestine than you need to. Lots of people who are wholly committed to fighting injustice are in the position of knowing people who are alive because Israel would take them in! Those people are not your enemy!

I’m seeing people circulating a photoset of a woman talking about the patriarchy in brown culture from the docu-film Honor Diaries.

As honourable as the intents of the original poster of this photoset was, Honor Diaries as a film should not be supported. The producers of the film are Zionist anti-Palestine “activists” and one of them even lives on illegal settlements in Hebron. 

On top of that, the film has many Islamophobic undetones, and at one point even says that the term “Islamophobia” was created to prevent any criticism of patriarchy in Islam- a sheer falsehood. Not surprising though, considering that one of the people who had a hand in the film was Ayan Hirsi Ali, who is extremely anti-Islam.

It’s sad that these people have taken such a sensitive issue and exploited it to make Muslims- and in some parts of the movie, Sikhs- look bad. 

I hope someone who themselves is brown will produce a documentary by brown people for brown people on the topic of “honour,” because it is a topic that requires justice, healing, and understanding from WITHIN the South Asian community, and without external influence.

I don’t want to use my victimhood to victimize others. When my father was in Auschwitz seventy years ago, when my grandparents were taken to the gas chambers, the world stood by and did nothing. Today thousands of [Palestinians] in the occupied territories are being killed—the great majority of them children—and again, the world is doing nothing. That’s a crime. When you stand and watch while a crime is being committed, you are an accomplice. And I say this as a Jew, with the greatest respect for my religion and history. I never deny my Jewish identity. I love my Jewish roots. But to oppress 4 million people of another nation and deny them equal rights—that is not a Jewish thing to do. And being against it is not anti-Semitism. You can’t fix one injustice with another.
—  Rami Elhanan, Israeli activist 

The constant reference of Zionists as Nazis is such a bizarre and historically incoherent trend.

Sure, I suppose you can liken certain aspects of Israel’s atrocious policies against Palestinians to the ideological premise and political manifestation of Nazism, but from a comparative standpoint, the two have very little in common, which is why activists from Palestine usually reference other cases of oppression (Jim Crow - new and old- or apartheid South Africa) to allude to their own and draw inspiration from.

Perhaps its the shock value of referring to people as Nazis, or maybe its a cheap shot against Jewish Zionists to throw the history back in their face (which is fundamentally antisemitic), but its not an apt parallel. The entire premise of settler colonialism, pinkwashing, faithwashing, normalization by presenting it as a “conflict” rather than “genocide” or an archaic battle of Muslims and Jews, PR firms, historical erasure of Palestinians, the global packaging and profiteering of culturally Arab cuisine and traditions as their own, paid agents and so many other facets of Israel’s political mechanism disappear.

Zionists aren’t Nazis. And they aren’t similar enough to solicit such a scandalous correspondence. Aside from the fact that no Jewish person should ever be called a Nazi, they’re Zionists. Being a Zionist means sanctioning the largest refugee population, countless massacres and the attempted erosion of a people and that is bad enough. They don’t need to be preemptively resembled to any other oppressor. The political narrative of Palestinians is urgent enough without sensationalist titles for the oppressors.

By Kenn Orphan ~

We lost a tremendous piece of humanity today. Hedy Epstein passed peacefully from this life surrounded by family and loved ones at her home in St. Louis, Missouri. She was 91.

Hedy was born in Germany on the 15th of August, 1924. And were it not for what she described as her mother and father’s “unselfish love” in arranging her escape from the Nazis by Kindertransport, she would have likely perished in a concentration camp as they did. Hedy was Jewish, and her parents, grand parents, and most of her family did not survive the Holocaust.

She said of this experience:

“Before I left Germany on a Kindertransport to England, my parents gave me many admonitions, to be good, to be honest, always ending with "We will see each other again soon.” I believed that we would see each other again soon, whether my parents believed that, I will never know. My parents and I corresponded directly with each other until England declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Then it was no longer possible to correspond directly with each other. Instead we exchanged 25 word messages through the Red Cross.

After my parents were sent to the camps in Vichy France, we could correspond directly with each other again. However, my parents were allowed only to write one page, per person, per week. I could write as much and as often as I wanted to. My parents never wrote about the horrible conditions under which they were forced to “exist,” I learned about that only after the war was over.

Thinking back on that time in England, I was a very sad little girl, not allowing myself to really get in touch with my feelings and fears. As I told you, each of my parents in their last letters to me before their final deportation (to Auschwitz), each of them wrote: “It will probably be a long time before you hear from me again”

How long is a long time? A week, a month, a year, ten years! Since I wanted so very much to be reunited with my parents again, I kept on telling myself: “A long time is not over yet, I have to wait some more”. I was in denial. I was not able to accept the inevitable, my parents’ demise. That was really a psychological game I played with myself, it was a way for me to survive, a self-preservation mechanism.

It was not until September 1980, when I visited Auschwitz and stood on the place, called “Die Rampe” (The ramp), where the cattle cars arrived in the 1940s, the people were forced to get out and Dr. Mengele and his cohorts made a selection as to who will live and who will die (in the gas chambers), that I was able to accept the fact that my parents and other family members did not survive. That is a very long time to be in denial. Perhaps the denial was in lieu of the usual mourning process.“

After the war Hedy moved to the United States and it was there that she devoted her entire life to fighting injustice. She fought for women’s reproductive choice and fair housing and employment for all. And she became a leading voice against the war in Vietnam and the bombing of Cambodia.

What Hedy will perhaps be remembered for most is her tireless commitment to Palestinian human rights and self determination. She traveled to Israel and the West Bank. And even though she suffered intimidation and degrading searches by Israeli security at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, she traveled there several times more and witnessed the brutality of the decades long occupation firsthand. She explained why in an interview:

"I have gone back because it is the right thing for me to do; to witness and to let the Palestinians know there are some people who care enough to come back and stand with them in their struggle against Israel’s occupation. Palestinians have asked me upon my return home, to tell the American people what I have seen and experienced, because the American people don’t know what is happening, because the media does not inform them. I made a commitment to do so and have taken every opportunity to honor this commitment.

I feel I must continue to be a moral voice, must continue to have the courage to take a public stand against Israel’s crimes against humanity and the misinterpretations provided by the media. Israel would not be able to carry out its crimes against humanity without the United States, the world, permitting it to do so and the mass media, which, with few exceptions, dehumanizes Palestinians and instills fear, ignorance and loathing of them and their culture.

Having met Palestinians, experienced their hospitality, warmth, dignity and even humor, it is incumbent upon me to bring their voices, their experiences to anyone who will listen to me, to bear witness about the Wall, the land confiscations, the demolished homes, the violation of water rights, the restrictions of freedom of movement. The future of peace cannot be awaited passively, but rather from commitments and struggles for justice. There is no peace without justice.”

Hedy became involved in Jewish Voice for Peace and used her influence to raise awareness of this issue throughout most of her life. And her tremendous contribution to this cause cannot be overstated. Age was never a barrier to her determination for human rights and social justice either. She was arrested at a peaceful protest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. She had just celebrated her 90th birthday three days earlier.

Hedy came from a corridor of history marked by the misery of organized cruelty and mass genocide. But she transformed her experience into a beacon of resistance for all people against oppression and brutality. Her courage will be greatly missed, but her legacy will endure in the hearts of all who were graced by her humanity.

“If we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see, we become complicit. I don’t want to be guilty of not trying my best to make a difference.”

~ Hedy Epstein, August 15th, 1924 - May 26th, 2016.

I think the Jewish State was a mistake, yes. Obviously, it’s too late to go back. It was a mistake to drive the Indians off the American continent, but it’s too late to give it back. At the time, I thought creating Israel was a good thing, but in retrospect, it was probably the worst thing that the Jews could have done. What they did was join the nationalistic frenzy, they became privy to all of the evils that nationalism creates and became very much like the United States—very aggressive, violent and bigoted. When Jews were without a state they were internationalists and they contributed to whatever culture they were part of and produced great things. Jews were known as kindly, talented people. Now, I think, Israel is contributing to anti-Semitism. So I think it was a big mistake.
—  Howard Zinn - An American historian, author, playwright, and social activist.

And people criticizing Black American activists for going to Palestine are so wack. They showed solidarity with us and we showed it back. The activists met with Afro-Palestinians as well so what’s the deal?

Re-reading that very long Olympics thread, it reinforces something I’d noticed: that nearly all anti-Zionists fail to comprehend why Zionists support Israel. They really seem to believe that pro-Israel advocates have simply been hypnotized or something and don’t know the REAL STORY. And that if only they complain more about Israel’s ugliest moments - Deir Yassin, the Yemenite children, Depo-Provera - everyone will gasp, blink their eyes a few times in astonishment, then give up and go home.

Name a country, and you’ll be able to find the Worst Things it’s ever done. For any of them. If any of us had the privilege to only interact with other countries as based on the Worst Things they’d ever done, we would have nobody. I wanted Or Sasson to shake that Egyptian competitor’s hand - even when knowing that the Egyptian government uses trained dogs to rape political prisoners. Later that day I’m pretty sure Sasson shook the Cuban competitor’s hand, even though Cuba threw tens of thousands of LGBT people into insane asylums.  Not one Israel critic, not anywhere, not for one second, applies this sort of litmus test of binary moral absolutism to any other country.  And to indulge in such binary moral absolutism solely for the Jewish country is antisemitic.

In a way I am glad to see so many Christians and Muslims accept that a Jewish state should be “a light unto the nations.”  But it’s also got to be “an ingathering of exiles,” and anti-Zionists pretty much by definition view those two ideas as mutually exclusive.  I reject their simultaneous attempts to appeal to one value while disregarding the other; I can actually hold two different thoughts at once.  (SEE ALSO:  “pinkwashing,” the notion that Israel is so incurably evil that anything it does that might be good for anyone is actually a trick.).   

I will always support Israel for many reasons. It is the rightful native land of the Jewish people, and our faith and culture has been oriented around our connection to that land since literally millennia before our current would-be moral arbiters even existed. In a less abstract, more immediate sense, because it is the only option for survival for about 44% of all the Jews left in the world, and potentially more in the future depending on if, say, Russia or Argentina have one bad election. The only home for millions of Jews when they were purged and exterminated and abandoned everywhere else. Time and time again, the goyische world has set up a choice of Israel-or-death, then acts sincerely shocked when the choice could ever be Israel. And so they try to argue on terms that suddenly aren’t about Jewish extinction anymore. “WHATABOUT the rabbinate?!” they demand. “WHATABOUT Sudanese refugees? WHATABOUT the olive trees?!?  Wouldn’t you rather die than live there?  ….what do you mean ‘no’???” 

I can acknowledge all of the wrongs Israel has perpetrated and all of the racism its society currently features. Pretty sure I know more about its wrongs and its racism than most anti-Zionists do. I can endorse many ways to make it better and to seek justice for the abused. But like basically every sane person in the world, I don’t go around declaring it’s time to totally dissolve sovereign states because of the Worst Things they’ve ever done. On this subject, pro-Palestine activists are no different from George Bush neocons. 

anonymous asked:

Can you recommend any good books detailing the history of Palestine from the very start of the conflict?

I’ve this answer saved in my notes…

I would suggest “A History of Modern Palestine” and “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappé (an Israeli author/activist), “The Question of Palestine” by Edward Said, “The Almond Tree” by Michelle Cohen Corasanti and “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” by the former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

And here are two books that talk about the life and the struggle of Palestinian refugees (“Men in the Sun” by Ghassan Kanafani, “I saw Ramallah” by Mourid Barghouthi)

And if you’re an Arabic speaker here are some Arabic books

كتاب للدكتور عبدالوهاب المسيري “مقدمة لدراسة الصراع العربي الإسرائيلي”
و كتاب للدكتور محسن محمد صالح “القضية الفلسطينية: خلفياتها التاريخية وتطوراتها المعاصرة”

And feel free to ask me anything :)

Under a cut because this is sort of grumpy and overly pedantic and I’m sorry.

Keep reading

She’s only 7, but she’s old enough to know that she wants the U.S. To stop funding the massacre of her Palestinian family and friends.

$8.5 million is given to Israel daily by the U.S. That money is used to arm Israel with the weaponry they use to slaughter Palestinians.

The Gaza Health Ministry has reported that since July 8th 2014, more than 36 Palestinians children have been killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Location: San Diego

Photo by: soulrevision