I'm Jewish. I belong to a synagogue, where my involvement ebbs and flows, and though we just recently got a full-time cantor, we still have a parttime rabbi who lives in the other desert that is such a problem, in Jerusalem, whose politics are 180 degrees from mine. I talk politics with some friends, and scrupulously avoid doing so with others. Being Jewish is a big part of my identity. So is working for social justice.
The situation - the escalation into war that is going on between Israel and Gaza - is coming to me via e-mails from various Jewish political groups. Here in Tucson, the Jewish Federation (a philanthropic group which includes Israel in their philanthropic deeds) sent me one on Monday urging me to support Israel's right to defend itself, and help in whatever way I can.
But I had also received messages from Jewish Voice for Peace and End the Occupation, and the story they told was so different from the Federation's. It became a matter of whom I believed, and I have stopped believing the Israel-right-or-wrong Zionists (the old meaning of the word).
I disagreed for many years with Israeli policy - as I think of it, it came from its years of war and occupation. But one of the ways I have changed in the four years I have been at Daily Kos is that I have gotten to know some Palestinians and other Arabs, and since knowing some here, have also met some here in Tucson, where there is an active interfaith community. For ten years there has been an annual Peace Walk that in alternate years is either Jewish-Muslim or Muslim-Jewish, which includes learning activities. I attended a few, but I didn't know about one that was held the Sunday before this fighting started (diaried here. In March 2008 I was in a discussion group with a Gazan-American and an Egyptian-American with whom I have had occasional contact since then.
So I learned the story of the Nakba, and of some of the other side of what has happened to the Palestinian people, and met online some Israelis who work for peace and for justice for Palestinians. My world has become larger.
And I remember some of the reasons I was not going to work for Obama this time around, though of course I had to, and one big one was his backing off involvement in any kind of peace process in Israel/Palestine. I actually had hopes after his Egyptian speech before he was president. Instead he acceded to all of Israel's preconditions, none of which could possibly be met before negotiations. And he acceded to the ignoring of Gaza and of Hamas. And Israel has been attacking the government buildings in Gaza, including police, essentially destroying any sort of organization for the public good in Gaza.
So my position is taken. It was actually taken four years ago, but I haven't written an Israel/Palestine diary since what feels like forever, and I could not let this escalating war go any further without saying my piece. Thanks to those who have been writing about it here; you have increased my knowledge.
UPDATE: Assaf sent me this message that I wanted to pass on.
The "time to take a stand" message might lead some readers to want to do something.
For example, there is this online petition started by a group of Israelis and Palestinians living in and around Gaza. It is nearing 100k signatures.
Or this FB group: https://www.facebook.com/...
Even if symbolic, liking a group like this will connect Kossacks to direct unfiltered information from anti-war israelis and Palestinians on the ground.
Or events coordinated or tracked by JVP. http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/...