Jewish Opposition to Israel

The last refuge of scoundrels is under siege

Sunday 15 February 2009, by Judy REBICK

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Part of the global outrage against the
Israeli assault on Gaza has been a
much stronger voice from dissident
Jews. I was one of eight Jewish
women who were arrested for an
occupation of the Israeli consulate in
Toronto on January 8. The next day,
Jewish activists blocked the entrance
to the Israeli consulate in Boston.
The following Monday, 1,000 Jews
demonstrated in front of the Israeli
consulate in New York City and,
a couple of days later, a group of
young Jewish activists locked down
the consulate in Los Angeles.

The BBC reported that the Council
of Jewish Communities in Morocco
declared itself as “in solidarity
with the innocent victims who are
suffering in Gaza.” The director of
the Foundation of Judeo-Moroccan
Cultural Heritage, Simon Levy,
described the killing in Gaza as
unjustified and “more than deplorable.
It is not like
that, that I see
Judaism.”

In Britain, a long
list of prominent
Jews signed a
public statement
criticizing the
Israeli attack.
One of them,
Sir Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish
member of the British Parliament
whose grandmother was shot
by Nazi troops while she lay sick
in her bed said, “The present
Israeli government ruthlessly and
cynically exploits the continuing
guilt from Gentiles over the
slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust
as justification for their murder of
Palestinians. My grandmother did
not die to provide cover for Israeli
soldiers murdering Palestinian
grandmothers in Gaza.”

I’ve been reflecting on the significance
of all of this. I myself have been an
anti-Zionist since I visited Israel
in 1970 and found a racist, sexist,
militaristic society that had nothing
to do with the progressive tradition
that I valued about being Jewish.
Indeed, there was a fierce debate
about Zionism during the 1940s, with
many progressive Jews arguing that
Israel would be a trap for the Jews,
and that expelling a people from their
homeland was not only wrong but it
would never create a safe homeland
for the Jews. There has remained
a strong opposition to the policies
of Israel, and even against the very
idea of a Jewish state, but it is a view
quite marginalized within the Jewish
community.

Over the last decade, Israel and
the organized Jewish community in
North America has endeavored to
equate the Israeli state with Judaism.
If you criticize
Israel, you are
an anti-Semite.
Inside the Jewish
community too,
it has become
more and more
difficult to speak
out against Israel
for fear of being
ostracized. And
within Israel itself, dissidents report
feeling more threatened than ever
before. But Israel is a country not a
people. It is a dangerous mistake to
equate a country with a people, and
by doing so Israel and the organized
Jewish community actually feed anti-
Semitism more than they fight it.

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