Justine Sachs – About

I immigrated to Aotearoa from South Africa in 2005. I was 11 years-old. I consider myself half a New Zealander and half a South African. Though in some ways I am neither here nor there, a real child of the diaspora so to speak. My parents are both of Lithuanian Jewish descent, as most South African Jewish people tend to be. The boats leaving Lithuania filled with Jewish people seeking to escape the violence and misery of the pogrom era seem to mostly have landed in South Africa.

My grandparents and great grandparents’ stories of survival and resilience in the fact of hatred and oppression were instilled in from a young age. My parents were both in their own distinct ways involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. I was what they called a ‘red diaper baby’ the child of radicals.

I am very proud of my Jewish heritage; I am particularly interested in Jewish philosophy and ethics. I attended to Kadimah College. I was always taught that to be Jewish is to not just be for yourself but for others, to question relentlessly and to seek justice.

It was my Jewish heritage, values and education that made me question Zionism and Israel’s occupation of Palestine. I consider standing in solidarity with Palestine a responsibility, a serious obligation that arises because of my Jewishness. This is not just because the Israeli state purports to act in my name, but because it is justice, justice, justice I have been instructed to pursue. Zionism limits and forecloses want it means to be Jewish, I want to help pry open the possibilities and remember the diversity and radicalism of our foremothers and fathers.

Outside of this mahi, I work as a union organiser (another avenue to fight for justice), political campaigner and writer. There is a lot of work to be done to make all the wrongs of the world right – I am merely one of many trying to play my part however small or big that role may be.

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