Bernie Sanders wants Israel’s occupation to end, and these young American Jews are actively pursuing his vision
by: David Harris-Gershon on March 27th, 2016 | Comments Off
Last Monday, 18,000 Jews shamefully applauded a man backed by neo-Nazis at AIPAC’s annual policy conference. However, while Donald Trump was pandering to and being cheered by an unrepresentative segment of the American Jewish community willing to ignore his fascism and hate, something much different was happening 2,000 miles away in Salt Lake City.
This is where Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish presidential candidate and sole contender to skip AIPAC’s conference, delivered a speech he wrote with AIPAC in mind, a speech which likely would have been ill received by an unforgiving and hostile audience.
Sanders, among all candidates, was the only one to mention Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians. Not only that, he called for its cessation as well:
Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.
That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.
Sanders ruffled the feathers of some institutional Jewish leaders loathe to even mention the word “occupation,” much less acknowledge it as an obstacle to peace. However, he actually represents the majority of American Jews who see critiquing Israel, namely its settlements and the occupation, as not just compatible with being Jewish, but an essential part of what it means to be a Jew.
Sanders also echoed the desires of a small cadre of young, American Jews who are actively working to oppose the occupation through The Center for Jewish Nonviolence via an activist campaign called “The Occupation is Not Our Judaism.” These American college students are organizing and raising funds for the type of trip one imagines Sanders would have joined as a youth and might even publicly support today:
We are a group of American college students, and we believe that occupation is not our Judaism. As part of the student wing of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, we will join Jewish activists, rabbis, community leaders of all ages from around the world in the West Bank this July for ten days of nonviolent solidarity work with Palestinian partners. Our commitment to Jewish history, texts, and community compels us to work toward a day in which the shared humanity and full equality of Palestinians and Israelis alike will be realized. We, as consistent with the values of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, are unequivocally opposed to the occupation and committed to the practice of nonviolent resistance.