Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011
Solidarity with Palestinian Activists
by Rebecca Alpert
I have spent many years working to promote the understanding of difference; being involved with identity-based groups of which I am a member to foster our rights and learning from that model to be an ally for others who find themselves mistreated or ignored by society. I see these roles as connected -- identity matters to me only as a means to understand and therefore to combat oppression, putting into action my interpretation of Hillel's notion that if I am not for myself (and people who are like me), no one will be for me, but if I am only for myself and my "kind," what indeed am I? It is in the role of an ally to the people of Palestine that I have felt called to get involved with campaigns that support nonviolent grassroots strategies to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I believe my greatest contribution to tikkun olam has been my participation in the rabbinic cabinet of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization that supports the radical notion that "inspired by Jewish tradition [we must] work together for peace, social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals." You can learn more about them at www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org. I have also signed on to some of the campaigns they sponsor in support of the Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.
Having long decried the violent means that some Palestinians have used to call attention to their plight, we in the American Jewish community cannot now turn our backs on a Palestinian movement that uses nonviolence to work for peace. Rather we must do everything in our power to raise Jewish voices, rabbinic voices, and proclaim our solidarity with them.
Making this public declaration makes me and the rabbis in whose courageous path I follow open to attack. We are proclaimed enemies of our people and told that we are "anti-Israel" by the ADL. Although supported wholeheartedly by my rabbi, I have been subjected to the public criticism of my fellow congregants in the Reconstructionist synagogue that I helped to found and to which I belong.
But I cannot imagine a more pro-Israel position than calling on the leadership of the country that acts in my name as a Jewish state to do what is right: to end the economic and cultural stranglehold on Gaza, and to stop building settlements on the West Bank that have made a two-state solution close to impossible to achieve. I call on Israel to recognize the common humanity and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to share the land to which both peoples make historic claim.
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert is an associate professor of religion and women's studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Her articles in Tikkun include "Where's the Politics?," September/October 1998; "Coming Out of the Closet as Politically Correct," March/April 1996; and "Destined to be an American, not an Israeli, Jew," May/June 2008.
Source Citation: Alpert, Rebecca. 2011. Solidarity with Palestinian Activists. Tikkun 26(1): 30