As a Jewish American I find myself struggling to find a place in the anti-war movement against Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. Last evening I went with a small contingent of Brandeis Students to attend a demonstration in front of the Israeli Consulate which then marched over to the Massachusetts State House. I wanted to go to voice my opposition to attacks. Personally I believe that the strike on Gaza has killed far too many innocent civilians and is ultimately bad for Israel’s long-term security (though it undoubtedly has a short-term benefit).
Even though I knew what I would find when I got there, I still found the protest very disturbing. I was bothered when the marchers freely chanted about ‘genocide’ and ‘holocaust’ in the Gaza Strip, but I was willing to stay in the march because I still agreed with the goal of ending the war. I became really uncomfortable when the chanters with the megaphone began to yell, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!” I support the State of Israel, proudly. I’m a Zionist, I believe that it is important for the Jews to have a homeland; and even if I weren’t, I would still recognize that six million Jews live in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and they aren’t going to go anywhere. The lesson learned from the creation of the State of Israel should be that no one people can control that entire land; which is why I, like most other Jews, support the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories.
I left the march finally after a new chant began “Free Palestine! Long Live Palestine! Long Live the Intifada! Intifada Intifada!” I oppose the Intifada for the same reason why I oppose the attacks in Gaza; we have to create peace by peaceful means and not by war. The anti-war movement needs to welcome Jews and supporters of the State of Israel into the fold. There are countless Jewish organizations (Rabbis for Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, to name a few) that support peace and oppose the occupation.
I don’t know exactly how to conclude this, so I’ll put in a plug for an event. Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine are holding a vigil for the victims in Gaza, this Tuesday (Inauguration Day!) at 6 PM in Upper Usdan. I’d urge everyone who supports peace to attend.