The battle for justice in Israel/Palestine according to the brave israeli journalist Gideon Levy will take place in the diaspora. He writes as many do in Israel, that the country is in a trance, hopelessly divided, unsure of itself and in the grip of weak leaders like Netanyahu. The simple truth is that history has caught up with the sin of Zionism, now seen as as a retrograde colonial settler movement which displaced an indigenous people.
The diaspora is frayed. many Jews, particularly the young, raised in historical tradition of human rights simply cannot abide what Israel is doing and has been doing to the Palestinians for decades. The great historian Ilan Pappé who basically was chased out of Israel has termed this “incremental genocide.’ Many North American Jews of course have no understanding of this, never unlike Gideon Levy, having visited the West Bank or Gaza. The latter you can’t get into anyway. Israel will not let you see the horrific devastation it has visited upon this population. In essence, most people, Jews or non-Jews do not know what they are talking about, never having seen up close the humiliating oppression which Palestinians live under.
So now what we have which is unique is young Jews breaking with their tribal elders for the simple reason that Israel can no longer in an internet age hide their truly barbaric behaviour. Enough internationals and church groups have been and come back to North America stunned at what they have encountered, a reality hidden from Jewish visitors who never ever go to the West Bank. Easily manipulated they are.
This brings us to a Yom Ha Atzmaut celebration interrupted in Baltimore. This is the celebration of Israel’s Independence (May 15,1948).the day is always celebrated on the 5th of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar.
You got to love these “Jews of conscience” like those in the American Jewish Voice for Peace (VP) who had the cojones to interrupt the Yom Ha’Atzmaut party held at a downtown bar. They simply denounced it as a celebration of ethnic cleansing.They then distributed educational flyers about the Nakba, the “catastrophe” which Israel refuses to acknowledge, the dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
The members of Baltimore JVP object to aspects of these agendas, especially to what they call the “celebration of Israeli nationalism at the expense of Palestinian human rights,” according to a letter the group sent to the organizers.The letter, signed by over 30 local Jews, stressed both the “displacement and continuing abuse of Palestinians,” as well as the way these kind of events “misrepresent and alienate us [as Jews.]”
When members of JVP were denied a meeting with the organizers they decided to “crash the party,” which they consider a celebration of “the atrocities done in the name of Judaism,” according to Sam DiDonato, a JVP member who signed the letter and participated in the interruption. At 9:10 in a carefully planned chorus, the group clinked a glass to call attention to their message and surprised the crowd by chanting “stop celebrating ethnic cleansing!” numerous times as they confuted the space with hundreds of flyers.
The good news is that these Jews of conscience are growing and refusing to be cowed by their elders and in particular their rabbis who are complicit by their silence.