- Just as we resist antisemitism, we refuse to dehumanise Palestinians in order to make their deaths lighter on our collective conscience. We sign this statement in order to affirm their humanity and our own. We distance ourselves from South African Jewish organizations whose blind support for Israel’s disproportionate actions moves us further from a just resolution to the conflict – letter signed by 500 prominent South African Jews.
There were fewer feet on the ground than on previous occasions, never something to be upbeat about. It means less space covered, less visibility. But the impact seemed not to have diminished. More people appeared to greet us with a "well done" or "keep it up." One elderly woman gave a thumbs up from a passing bus.
Other than the few people I go along with – today it was my wife and our two Croatian friends - the cultural backgrounds of those attending I have no idea about. There might even be some Jewish people who turn up although thus far there have been no displays that would indicate this to be so. They would be welcome if they did, their voices vital to stripping Israeli war makers of what Norman Finkelstein has called the most potent weapon in their ideological arsenal - the Holocaust. The Israeli state is currently at odds with 'many liberal American Jews, opposed to the settlements and put off by Israel’s rising religious nationalism'. Irish Jews should be no less forthright.
Jews will be made to feel uncomfortable by taking part in vigils like that at the Tholsel. The discomfort will be caused not by the people there, nor by ethics, but by a pressure to conform. In an article in today’s Guardian Antony Loewenstein conveyed something of the nature of this pressure:
Diaspora dissent against Israel's occupation is ... a relatively new phenomenon. Because links to family, religion and community are so strong, criticism can be costly ... support for the Jewish state has been an unofficial second religion for Jews for decades – in my own family it was simply expected that Israel would be uncritically backed in times of war and peace, with Palestinians demonised as unreasonable and violent ... The standard tools used to silence skeptical Jews, including those in the diaspora – false allegations of self-hatred and antisemitism, accusations of backing Hamas ...
Despite the strategic use of the smear, Jews speaking out against the war of terror on Gaza would be no more anti-Jewish than earlier anti-war activists were anti-German during the reign of the Nazis. Students, Sophie and Hans Scholl, operating in Munich in 1943, registered their dissent in the most dangerous of climates. They were not unpatriotic, but refused to allow their patriotism to be turned into a scourge against humanity. Their unrelenting courage led to them being guillotined by the Nazis days after distributing leaflets on their university campus. Much less is required of anti-war activists today.
There is nothing anti-Semitic about what we do at the Tholsel, just anti-war crime. Some might even argue that the abhorrence on show towards Israel's crimes against humanity has its roots in revulsion towards the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The glaring similarities between the latter and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians could well be a moral prompt for increasing numbers of Jews to break free from the manipulative purpose the memory of the Holocaust is being put to. A memory forged in blood, pain and terrible loss, a searing memory of grave injustice, a memory that Jews are proud to bear out of love for those who perished, should never be misappropriated to serve the organised lying of Mark Regev and his murderous ilk.
Jewish people should identify with the Palestinians not in spite of their Jewishness but because of it, because of what was done to them by a brutal supremacist, expansionist ideology, because in every Palestinian child murdered they see the slaughtered children of Babi Yar.
Jews For Justice in Palestine - an honourable way to protest the malevolence of the genocidal mind.