We can all be free. Not next year, now.

Every Passover we sigh, ‘Next year, may we all be free.’ This is the year, if we dare.

It’s all on. Israeli soldiers have entered the Al Aqsa Mosque and beaten Muslim worshippers, desecrating Passover and Ramadan. The video is shocking and the inter-communal implications are horrible to contemplate. The Christian character of Jerusalem is also under assault. Historic numbers of Israelis have protested Netanyahu’s overthrow of Israel’s court system. Most are protesting the loss of their own rights, rather than the occupation or apartheid structures within which they exercise Jewish advantage. Our NZ leadership apparently couldn’t care less. Meanwhile, the proliferation of gross antisemitism on social media seems to be tracking with the spread and violence of anti-trans intolerance.

There is a way out of this.

As long as Israelis protest with the aim of restoring the previous Jewish supremacy, they are fighting for scraps. They will not achieve more than an impasse or, worse, an intra-Jewish battle for unsustainable ethnic power.

The way to break the impasse is to protest the occupation and apartheid—protest the rot that gave rise to this rotten government. Protest for democracy—yes, with Palestinians in the very front row. Palestinians comprise half of the people living between the river and the sea. If Palestinians could vote, Ben Gvir, Smotrich and Netanyahu would not be scheming to keep each other out of jail or handing out armed militias as party favours.

A Palestinian-Jewish majority protest to overthrow the occupation regime would not merely stop traffic. It would stop apartheid. That democratic protest would bring the world to its feet.

That is our Passover wish. Form a democratic majority: place the rights of Palestinians in the front row. One person needs one vote to bring justice to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Every Passover we say, ‘Next year, may we all be free.’ This is the year, if we dare.

What is asked of us here, in Aotearoa? Here as there, Alternative Jewish Voices believes that when we stand up with others against hate, violence and injustice; we will not be left alone to confront those who hate or seek to harm us. Let us be part of a majority that stands up for justice, love and acceptance. Here and there.

The Jewish community of Aotearoa is not collectively responsible for the actions of the thugs and criminals who govern Israel. We are not responsible—but neither are we helpless or uninvolved. We have a role in this. ‘Next year may we all be free’ will not happen without us. It is a call to action.

Those of us who see, turn away, and do not speak about the escalating wrongs being committed in the name of the Jewish people are accountable for their own silence. That’s worth repeating: we are not collectively responsible for Israel’s crimes, but we are each accountable for our response to the wrongs from which we derive advantage.

What advantage? We can get on a plane and fly to Tel Aviv, which Israeli law prevents indigenous Palestinians from doing. If we choose to immigrate, we can vote for the people who govern us, which Israel prevents millions of Palestinians from doing. We can drive one hour in a straight line, which Israel’s blockade obstructs Gazans from doing. We know all this is done to preserve our privilege. We know.

This Passover is the moment to bring into being a world where everyone is free to live without violence, injustice or fear. Not next year, now.

Ken y’hi ratzoneinu – may it be our will.

Chag Sameach – happy Pesach, Ramadan Kareem, happy Easter and happy long weekend!

Alternative Jewish Voices of Aotearoa

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