On Nakba Day we commemorate the explulsion and the ongoing harms inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian nation. Zionism is the project of Jewish nationalism. We acknowledge our responsibility as Jews to help muster the pressure that is necessary to transform the racist society that Zionism has built.
This week we also mourn for journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, and for 16-year-old Thaer Khalil Mohammed Maslat who was killed by the IDF on the same day. He is the tenth Palestinian child to be shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces this year.
Today Israeli police assaulted Shireen Abu Aqleh’s pallbearers and mourners while the world watched. Absent any comment by our own government, we second the statement of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell: “The European Union is appalled by the scenes … in occupied East Jerusalem. The EU condemns the disproportionate use of force and the disrespectful behaviour by the Israeli police against the participants of the mourning procession.”
Also in the EU, Berlin has banned Palestinian demonstrations including those for Nakba Day. Would Berlin treat its Jewish community the same way, banning the commemoration of Jewish suffering and the mourning of an internationally prominent Jew? We think not.
Attempts to marginalise Nakba Day are acts of public erasure, offering us private excuses not to learn and empathise with the lived experience of Palestinians. When we turn away and desensitise our hearts, we prop up the walls of this world with our backs.
The problem is not simply Zionism. Both there and here the problem is exclusivity, the absolute doctrines of mine and mine alone.
In Palestine we oppose a society of Jewish privilege wherein “the freedoms of one [ethnic] group are inextricably bound up in the subjugation of the other… This is apartheid.” Apartheid is a crime against humanity and that makes Nakba Day everyone’s business.
Here in Aotearoa, we object to the Zionist monotone of our unelected, unrepresentative Jewish Council and institutions. We oppose the institutional intolerance of any belief other than Zionism. Shame on any heart that thinks so small. Judaism has been a plural noun for at least two thousand years.
Look beneath the false claim that all anti-Zionism equals antisemitism. That claim rests upon the false foundation that Zionism equals all of Judaism. Zionist exclusivity enables the outrage which some Zionists direct at any other, older Jewish belief: Judaism is ours and ours alone.
Some Jews do place nationalism at the heart of their identity. We reject their monopoly to act as if Zionism were the only expression of Jewishness. It is not, never was, never will be.
We wrote our kaupapa, our principle, on our homepage on the day of our establishment. Sh’ma Koleinu – hear our voices – there are many ways to be a Jew. We adhere to an expansive Judaism. We let our hearts jump the fences and roam our world. We share others’ losses. We seek their comfort as well as our own. We work for our common future, grounded in justice and dignity.
On this Nakba Day 2022, we stand in solidarity with our Palestinian friends to commemorate the living Nakba. Our hearts reach out to imagine a peaceful, pluralist, democratic future for all who live between the river and the sea.
Alternative Jewish Voices and friends