by Emily Hilton
06 May 2019
My first memory of the news was when I was five, after hearing that former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin had been assassinated. As a Jew, my relationship with Israel developed against a backdrop of the separation barrier, settlements and the open air prison that is Gaza.
The repetitive and incessant violence that occur in the occupied territories is devastating. Watching the news this weekend as more rockets and retaliatory attacks erupted once again towards Gaza, it would be easy to give in to a sense of hopelessness.
Violence, oppression and pain are the backbone of occupation. Many of us watched in horror and despair last year as 52 people were shot by Israeli forces at the border fence during the March of Return.
Whilst there is no justification for targeting rockets at civilian populations, which Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip are regularly accused of doing, we must also recognise the tragedy that is the current situation in Israel/Palestine.
Without a formal or clear strategy for ending the military blockade, settlement building and demolishing of Palestinian villages, this cycle of violence will likely continue. It will mean more attacks and needless deaths of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian.
In the last decade, Jewish communities across the world have seen growing resistance to the tired narratives pitting our safety against the rights and safety of Palestinians.
In Israel, organisation likes All That’s Left and Ta’ayush have been working tirelessly to support Palestinian communities in their acts of civil resistance, and to build relationships across the Green Line of demarcation.
It’s clear that there is a growing amount of co-resistance work and acts of solidarity taking place between Israelis, diaspora Jews and Palestinians, and this could be a game changer when it comes to ending the occupation.
Unsurprisingly, this has been met with disdain from the Israeli government and its supporters. This week, the Centre for Jewish Nonviolence, an anti-occupation group which brings diaspora Jews to the occupied territories to undertake solidarity work with Palestinian communities, was working alongside Palestinian and Israeli activists to repair a road in the West Bank. This road would make it easier for remote Palestinian communities to access better resources and supplies.
The Israel Defence Forces were deployed to stop this work, violently dispersing the 125 Palestinians, Israelis and international Jews at the action, and arresting 17 people. The road repair was a peaceful act of co-resistance; it was met with sound grenades and brutality, tactics which are a daily reality of occupation.
Earlier in the week, these same Jewish and Israeli activists stood in solidarity with the Palestinian village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills, whilst their homes were once again demolished by the Israeli army.
It is powerful and necessary that diaspora Jews who care about this land put their bodies on the line to fight for human dignity and show leaders like Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who regularly claims to speak for all the Jewish people, that occupation is not our Judaism.
When we think about how to bring peace and justice to this land, we must focus our attention and energy on obstructing efforts to divide us, by demonstrating that we will not stand for an endless cycle of pain, oppression and violence.
Every time these acts of solidarity take place, it challenges the hateful and racist rhetoric that Netanyahu relies on to remain in power. It brings us closer to a reality that means freedom and dignity for all who live in Israel/Palestine.
With the rising tide of white nationalism, antisemitism and Islamophobia culminating in violent attacks on places of worship, there is a growing sense of urgency that solidarity is needed between Muslims and Jews, united against a revitalised alt right wave of popularity and power.
What gives me hope is how this is translating to on the ground, with coalition building and co-resistance between Israeli, Palestinian and diaspora Jewish communities.
In the shadow of the growing violence in Gaza and the unforgiving nature of the current Israeli government, we must take hope and courage from these joint acts of solidarity.
In order to truly beat the neo-fascism that has taken over the political sphere in Israel, we need to build an alternative reality that isn’t fuelled by fear, division and hate.
We need a movement of Palestinians, Jews and Israelis that is unapologetic about its commitment to justice, equality and dignity for everyone who lives in Israel/Palestine. The reason Netanyahu is so terrified of Israeli-Palestinian and Jewish-Muslim solidarity? He knows that ultimately love, solidarity and liberation will win.