Hi everyone. This blog post will upset some of my colleagues and likely lose me a few followers, and possibly even some friends. I understand. But having a platform comes with the responsibility of using it to speak up against injustice.
I know the past several days have weighed heavily on everyone’s mind as we learned of the horrifying atrocities committed by Hamas. The already high level of antisemitism has increased over the years, culminating in last week’s violence and brutality against Israeli civilians, including children and the elderly. The horror is too much for many of us to fully comprehend. There are still hostages being held and people still suffering. As a society and as a sector we must condemn the terror and cruelty committed by Hamas.
And as vocally we must condemn the Israeli government’s response, which has been to launch a second Nakba, a horrific level of death and destruction, on Palestine and its people. 2.3 million Palestinians live in Gaza. Half of them are children. Cutting off food, water, and energy, and ordering civilians to evacuate Northern Gaza while raining death on families fleeing for their lives and vowing to do more—this is genocide; this is ethnic cleansing. We must be firm in condemning these war crimes, especially as the US government is openly supporting the Israeli government and its violence and inhumanity against Palestinian civilians, including children, who are not Hamas.
I don’t want to center myself and my feelings in this moment, as we who are in safe and privileged positions often tend to do. But reading the news and seeing the images of pain and death, I think about what my family and community endured in the war forced upon us in Vietnam. Whole villages were obliterated. My mother told me how she carried her two youngest siblings, small children at the time, each in a basket at both ends of a shoulder pole, as they ran to dodge bombs falling all around them, weaving between broken and lifeless bodies of other villagers. They were trying to get to another family’s house, which they thought would be safer. They were delayed on the road, and when they arrived, the house and everyone in it had been blown up by bombs.
The fact that these and other scenarios are happening right now and have been continually happening over decades and decades to Palestinians, is heartbreaking and horrifying.
I am glad to see more people and organizations in our sector speaking against the killing and terrorizing of innocent people, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian. But this is not enough. We must also take a stance in support of a free Palestine. There can be no end to these cycles of violence, no lasting peace, until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian territories. As Joanna Ware, Rabbi Becky Silverstein, and an anonymous colleague write in this thoughtful essay,
“In the same way that more funders — though still not enough — have upped their focus on the root causes of racial injustice, we must also view this moment through the lens of root causes. We cannot avoid naming and addressing the root cause of this violence: decades of oppression and Occupation. Millions of Palestinians live under Israeli control without human rights and dignity. This cannot continue. It does not need to be like this. There is no military solution in Israel/Palestine. The only stable solution is a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
We must be more vocal in support of ending this occupation by the Israeli government, as it is unjust and illegal as deemed by the United Nations.