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Diaspora Jews, It's Time to Step Up

World  (tags: middle-east, israel, Jews, diaspora, peace activists, A. Daniel Roth, Achvat Amim, All That's Left, American Jewry, Center for Jewish Nonviolence, diaspora Jewry, diaspora jews, direct action, J-street, Peter Beinart )

- 1569 days ago -
For years there have been calls for on-the-ground opposition to the occupation. Now there are a growing number of Jewish platforms - and voices - seeking to make it happen. An important shift is beginning to take place - right now.


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Evelyn B (63)
Sunday March 29, 2015, 7:15 am
Thanks, Jess
Diaspora Jews, it's time to step up

For years there have been calls for on-the-ground opposition to the occupation. Now there are a growing number of Jewish platforms — and voices — seeking to make it happen.

By A. Daniel Roth

The way the world is talking about the Israeli occupation is changing. Alongside that change, opportunity is knocking for those of us standing in opposition: calls for diaspora Jews to be present on the ground in Israel and Palestine are increasing. An important shift is beginning to take place — right now.

The writing is on the wall. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, U.S. President Obama and his staff have been speaking differently about the once-incontrovertible two-state solution. One campus Hillel changed its name instead of changing it’s programming to adhere to Hillel International’s rules. If Not Now stormed onto the scene last summer in response to the violence in Gaza. Boycotts and BDS campaigns are sprouting up on campuses and at supermarkets all over the world.

That was on display for anyone to see last week in Washington D.C. The J Street conference, which brought together over 3,000 people, saw a series of fired up conversations that put shone a spotlight on the American-Jewish relationship with Israel. During a panel on liberal Zionism, Israeli journalist (and +972 blogger) Noam Sheizaf made a clear plea for a collective refocusing from “state solutions” to the urgency of ending the inequality that exists for millions under occupation, who lack freedom of movement or access to civilian courts.

+972's Noam Sheizaf at J Street: Let's have a real civil rights struggle in Israel/Palestine

Peter Beinart also took a step forward on stage, calling on young Jews from North America and around the world to stand physically in Israel and Palestine, and to take part in Palestinian non-violent resistance to the occupation.

For years there have been calls for on-the-ground participation from a variety of communities. Recently, there has been a surge in Jewish platforms for those communities to take part in peace and justice work.

A Jerusalem-based volunteer program for young American Jews (which I co-founded) called Solidarity of Nations-Achvat Amim engages in human rights work and learning based on the core value of self-determination for all peoples. All That’s Left (of which I am a member) is a collective aimed at engaging the diaspora in anti-occupation learning, organizing, and on-the-ground actions. The new Center for Jewish Nonviolence has already brought a delegation to help Palestinian farmers to replant trees the IDF uprooted last spring.

It is important that Jewish communities with connections to Israel take part in this movement. Whether they have a personal, communal, religious or cultural relationship with this land, diaspora communities should be on the forefront, stepping up to take responsibility for a peaceful and just future here.

The groups and initiatives I mentioned above are working on engaging even more people in this work: bringing dozens of diaspora Jews — who are already living and learning in Israel — to do solidarity work with Palestinians. In the coming months, they hope to bring hundreds more from around the world for direct actions and educational initiatives in the West Bank.

There are important roles for people from all over the world, of various backgrounds, in organizing opposition to the occupation. Right now, at this very moment, there is a growing call for diaspora Jews to to find their way here and stand up for equality. It’s time to answer that call.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 29, 2015, 7:16 am
Well it's a bit of hope 4 the Palestinians. They're not solely alone+do have some support. Such a mess over there. Thanks Evelyn

Elfje Muse (98)
Sunday March 29, 2015, 7:20 am
Thank you for this article ;o) Have a wonderful day

Kathryn M (108)
Sunday March 29, 2015, 7:31 am
Thank you for posting this!!

Darren Woolsey (218)
Sunday March 29, 2015, 7:58 am
Agree with Natasha.
Thanks Evelyn.

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 30, 2015, 5:26 am
True, great momentum that needs to be seized! Names of new groups such as * all that's left* say it all! It really looks like now or never.

Carol R (11)
Monday March 30, 2015, 6:11 am
People power... we are the hope and change. Thanks Evelyn

Past Member (0)
Monday March 30, 2015, 9:36 am
There are no reasons to create 23 Arab state and 2nd Palestinian Arab state (besides Jordan), when the existing 22 Arab states failed to provide prosperity and democracy to their population.

Even now Arab nation got 22 UN votes, against 1 US vote, 1 Canadian vote, 1 China vote, 1 India vote. This is grossly unfair to all other nations.

Besides, that new Arab state will be at war with Israel and Egypt due to its extremist and militant nature. I agree with Netaniyahu that conditions for that state are not there yet.

Obama may be happy to get it, but he was happy to get rid of his ally Mubarak, to welcome Morse, to get rid of Kaddafi who stopped being a terrorist, so Obama's support is really signals a bad thing for non-Islamists.

fly bird (26)
Monday March 30, 2015, 11:59 am
Thanks for posting, Evelyn.

Colleen L (3)
Monday March 30, 2015, 1:57 pm
Good article. I hope that they can get stronger. Thanks Evelyn

Roger G (148)
Monday March 30, 2015, 5:32 pm
noted, thanks

Janet B (0)
Monday March 30, 2015, 6:20 pm

fly bird (26)
Monday March 30, 2015, 9:37 pm
For Hamza: Arms Sanctions against Israel's everyday terrorism:

Evelyn B (63)
Tuesday March 31, 2015, 12:34 am
Jewish Voice for Peace expresses similar opinions
Israel Is Only Going to Change Its Horrific Behavior If Outsiders Force It to

For too long, the majority of the voices in the Jewish community have urged the treating of Israel with kid gloves.
By Rebecca Vilkomerson - Jewish Voice for Peace
March 30

Israel's recent election was a clarifying moment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appeal to Israelis' worst racist instincts worked. Between Netanyahu's declarations during the last week on the campaign trail that he has no interest in a peace agreement with Palestinians, and his horror at the act of Palestinian citizens of Israel voting, his political platform could not be more clear: It is anti-peace and based on Jewish nationalism at the expense of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Despite Netanyahu's attempt to walk back his comments after he won, there is little doubt that Israel's policies of expanding settlements, an ongoing siege of Gaza, periodic warfare and systematic discrimination will continue.

For many people, especially American Jews who express support for democratic ideals and are seriously committed to peace with Palestinians, the racist rhetoric and extreme positions Netanyahu was willing to deploy in the last days of the campaign uncomfortably highlighted ongoing Likud party policies. The Zionist Union was defined as an alternative "center left" that could offer a superficially new direction for Israelis tired of Netanyahu's belligerence toward anyone around the world who doesn't agree with him. But in substance, the Zionist Union did not actually offer policy positions that were much different in terms of the treatment of Palestinians both within and outside of the Green Line.

As openly offensive as Netanyahu is, he is not the only problem. Underlying his leadership is a systemic and society-wide problem of increasing support among Israelis for anti-democratic policies, including second-class citizenship for Palestinian citizens of Israel and complete control of the approximately 4.5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, who do not have any input over the government that has ultimate control over their territory.

For decades, Israel has delayed or obstructed constructive peace talks by claiming it had no partner for peace while continuing to expand settlement building and strengthening the infrastructure of occupation. Now, as Palestinian Authority senior officials noted, the world can't help but see that there is no partner for peace on the Israeli side.

Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf put it like this immediately after the election: "For years we have been hearing that Israel will either end the occupation or cease to be a democracy. Could it be that the Jewish public has made its choice?"

The question now for American Jews who express support for peace and democratic values is how to relate to an Israeli government which has openly declared itself against both. While major Jewish institutions, including the Jewish Federations of North America and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), congratulated Netanyahu for his win, others, like the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and American Jewish Committee, congratulated Israel for its fair election process. None of these pillars of the Jewish-American community showed even a moment's pause at the twisted values that won the election (though the ADL did praise Netanyahu's insincere apology to Palestinian citizens after the election).

So where does that leave the rest of us, who are dismayed by Israel's unequal treatment of its citizens and subjects? Jewish Voice for Peace has long held a theory of change that given the last 20 years of a fruitless peace process, external pressure from governments and civil society will be necessary for Israel to stop acting with impunity. That is why we endorse the call forBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a system of accountability for Israel's blatant disregard for human rights.

The Obama administration is growing less willing to blindly protect Israel's every action. The administration is considering allowing measures to pressure Israel at the U.N. and other international bodies, where the U.S. has traditionally acted as a body block whenever Israel was faced with challenges to its actions. It is not yet clear if this is a serious threat, but that it is even surfacing shows that U.S. policies toward Israel may be significantly shifting.

For too long, the majority of the voices in the Jewish community have urged the treating of Israel with kid gloves, giving it the space and time to make its own decision to do the right thing. But that has only allowed Israel to entrench its system of occupation and control while its population becomes ever more right-wing and comfortable with the status quo. Whether for love of Israel, or simply love of universal human rights, we can no longer claim not to see Israel's positions as unacceptable, and therefore can't absolve ourselves of the necessity to support concrete steps to change its stance. Whether it is BDS, the International Criminal Court, U.S. economic military or economic aid, or other forms of non-violent pressure, it is time for consequences.

Link to peitition: Time To Choose--Words or Action

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 31, 2015, 6:29 am
j street.....LOLOL!

Roslyn McBride (26)
Tuesday March 31, 2015, 7:56 pm

Stan B (123)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 1:18 am
What a load of out of touch with reality nonsense.
I'm a diaspora Jew and I aint "stepping up."
With the current treachery from Obama, Israel more than ever needs to stay strong to survive. End of story.

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 2:17 am
It's your right - and totally in keeping with your position - to opt not to "step up" on a human rights of any but pro-Zionists, Stan. More likely, you'll step up against this ...

Obviously, not all Jews agree with you. That's their right, too.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 5:04 am
You're right, evie. Not all. Just 8%.

Erin R (181)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 10:43 am
Thank you for posting.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 11:51 am
Evelyn, why don't you ever call on Diaspora Arabs or Arabs living in their countries to help their Palestinian Arabs with something better than militant rhetoric?

Why do you want to put all your responsibilities to Jews, Israel, US, Canada, Europe - but not OIL-$$$ Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc?

We have our expenses to, you know.

M B (62)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 11:59 am
thanks for posting

Janet B (0)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 12:21 pm

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 2:10 pm
Palestinians of the Diaspora do support Palestinians - in many ways, including support to organisations assisting those who are stateless -
But nobody except Bob is talking about giving $$$ here - they are talking about taking moral responsibility, something that clearly has escaped your notice. I'm only sharing messages from Jewish groups - not placing responsibilities on them but noting their sense of responsibility. Bob seems to have a hang up about any money going to support the victims & survivors of the Occupation and the actions of the militias at the time of the creation of the State of Israel - but has no problem with the billions of dollars the US tax payer has to contribute annually to what is considered as probably the wealthiest country in the Middle East. Orwellian logic.

Colleen L (3)
Wednesday April 1, 2015, 9:10 pm
I too agree with Natasha. Thanks Evelyn
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