As today marks the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I’d like to take occasion of this day to publicly state, without hesitation, that I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
As a Jew, I will also say without hesitation that I reject the view that I must choose between standing with Jews or standing with Palestinians. This is a zero-sum outlook that only serves to promote division, enmity and fear.
For me, the bottom line is this: the cornerstone value of my religious tradition commands me to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed. It would thus be a profound betrayal of my own Jewish heritage if I consciously choose not to stand with the Palestinian people.
In other words, I believe my Jewish liberation to be intrinsically bound up with Palestinian liberation. It’s really that simple.
But of course, there is nothing simple or uncomplicated about it. To take such a step it is deeply painful in many ways. It means, among other things, facing down my peoples’ own potential for oppression; to admit that the state of Israel, born in the wake of persecution, has itself become a persecutor.
However, I must also admit that this pain, uncomfortable though it is, is nothing compared to the pain felt that is being experienced by the Palestinian people on a daily basis. Anyone person of privilege who stands in solidarity with the oppressed would do well to bear this in mind: while must we explore our own guilt and culpability, we must also bear in mind that it is not ultimately about us.
From a wonderful essay on white privilege, but very applicable in this case:
Solidarity…is a long-term participation in the struggle, understanding the part you play and how the issues affect you personally. As well, solidarity may very well mean not being the center of the solution, but just a small part. It may mean deferring your sense of authority and leadership. It can also mean dropping your own agenda for how change should be achieved. It can be very problematic when the leadership in an organization is people from the dominant culture. When people from the dominant culture define the issues or strategies for oppressed people it can be condescending and ineffective. So, an example of solidarity is being part of community organizing efforts led by people of color, womyn, etc in an active, but non-leadership role. Being in solidarity means seeing how you will benefit from the liberation of others.
And so today I’ll take this opportunity to say I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. But I’m not taking it to assuage my Jewish pain and guilt, nor to claim I personally know how this liberation must eventually be achieved.
In the end, I stand here because I know in my heart it is where I must be.