Recently, there has been growing focus and debate on the role Jewish educational spaces ought to play in educating their communities about the 51 year old occupation. Last year when a West Coast Jewish camp displayed a Palestinian flag they wound up apologizing. When the executive director of Breaking the Silence spoke in Australia many in the community were up in arms. When a youth leader from the UK joined a Kaddish for Gaza major controversy unfolded. When the North American activist group, If Not Now ran training sessions for Jewish camp counselors, Jewish youth and camp organizations had to choose sides.
Soon after, Jewish organizations began releasing statements and earlier this summer the youth movement I grew up in and am involved in today, Hashomer Hatzair, published its own statement, adding our voices to the ongoing debate.
This is that statement:
This originally appeared at +972 Magazine.
The Israeli government voted this week to support a bill that would criminalize documenting Israeli soldiers tasked with carrying out the violence of the occupation in the West Bank. Supporters of the bill — which could make “videotaping, recording, or photographing Israeli soldiers carrying out their duty with the intention of eroding morale” a crime punishable by five years in prison — believe that stopping the dissemination of violent images from the occupied territories will help Israel’s PR game. But at the core of the proposed law lies something else: a fear of the power that the camera may hold for Israeli soldiers.
I don't feel all that Canadian most of the time, even though I grew up in Toronto, learned in its public schools, studied its literature, slept under its stars each summer and visit my family and friends there as often as possible. Culturally, I feel more Jewish than anything... But as I reflect on The Tragically Hip in the wake of Gord Downie's death today I'm realizing that their music hits me right in my Canadian gut. I feel connected in an inexplicably natural way to that Canadian I-don't-know-what when I hear Wheat Kings, Boots Or Hearts, and Nautical Disaster. When I hear Gord Downie's irreplaceable voice I am happily transported back to my car on a cold late 90's afternoon spent driving in midtown Toronto with whichever radio station on, trying to maintain its Canadian content quota by playing Ahead By A Century for the fifth time that hour. Thank you, Gord for creating something so essential for me and for millions of others.
If today you are mourning the six dead and lamenting the hundreds injured in terror and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank yesterday, the way to help is to join the movement to build a just peace and self determination for the peoples that call this place home. Demonstrate, donate, write, read, block and build in the name of equality and in deep and full solidarity. Be in this movement when things seem calm - though true 'calm' in occupation is an impossibility - and you haven't heard much recently, and be steadfast in your commitment to justice and actual peace in the face violence and hate.
It is time to run for office so start raising some cash from family and friends and neighbors and partners in crime and it is time to make a fund for lawyers and a fund for bail and it is time to grow food and catch rain water and it is time to put pens and paints and the golden age of TV away because we don't have time for bearing witness right now because humans like you and our entire existence on the actual planet are at risk and these last five days have been exhausting and depressing and there are so many more days to go and despite the massive march this is only the beginning and executive orders are five by five making quick work of campaign promises and we do not stand a chance unless we take power and as long as elections are still taking place it is incumbent on you to run and win
This was originally published at The Forward.
The most common question I get asked about my decision to immigrate to Israel five years ago is “Why? Why would you move here?” Sometimes it’s asked by earnest American Jews, and sometimes it comes with a tinge of that famous Israeli cynicism. Either way, it raises the specter of another question, one that is increasingly bubbling to the surface among Israeli leftists as the country’s rightward slide becomes more and more pronounced: How much longer will you stay?
They totally agree with your goals, but they're not fans of the tactics. Don't obstruct parades. Pride and the brutality of police forces are different matters. And don't obstruct highways. And don't let the constant threat and actuality of murder turn into hard and real anger. It's disruptive and only serves to polarize people. Making people late for work will only make them angry, more so than when people see a bleeding man die on 'facebook live'. Some saw gross injustice in that blood stained car as tears welled up across the country. Others saw a one time, or maybe one hundred times, or perhaps a one thousand times incident, but definitely not something systemic.
The memorial songs for Bernie Sanders' campaign are ringing through the streets and everyone seems ready to call it for Clinton as a growing centrist voice is demanding that democrats fall in, and toe the party line in the coming presidential campaign, which is most likely going to be against the racist, sexist, and always conspiracy-theory-minded Donald Trump. But in actuality, Clinton is just around three hundred delegates up on Sanders, with about eleven hundred delegates still up for grabs in the race to two thousand three hundred and eighty three. Super delegates, which are decidedly with Hillary right now, can go to anyone up until the July convention, so counting anybody out at this point would be foolish, particularly given the massive crowds and record crowdfunding that Bernie has managed to call upon. It's true that the American political discourse is so deeply to the right that it would seem strange if Sanders were to make it to the general election. He is avowedly for putting firm limits on capitalism and environmental abuse. He sees society as a collective project and says out loud that Palestinians deserve freedom and that Black Lives Matter. Those were all positions that the Clinton camp came into the race disregarding, disagreeing with or dismissing as bad politics. It's true that no matter who wins, the American people will have to organize movements to push those in office to act for a better world, and it's true that Hillary Clinton is better than Republicans on issues like safe and healthy abortion access, and she would probably pick better judges to sit on the supreme court. But beyond that, in issues of policy, both foreign and domestic, Clinton might make a good manager in the current reality, but since when does the Left simply want to manage the current violent and exploitative reality? The loudest voices are trying to tell voters that the race is over and it's time to get real, but there's a lot of room between now and the nomination. And don't forget that Sanders does better against the GOP in poll after poll. American voters should raise their voices for the candidate they want to see win in these primaries, not the one they're told is going to win.
I originally wrote this for, and presented it on, the i24news show "Road to the White House." You can see the segment here.
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