Something I’ve noticed this year, especially at my school this past semester during #UMDivest and now, as Israel is massacring Palestinians in Gaza, is how fucking incapable zionists are at recognizing suffering that is outside of their own. Like, I understand that the Holocaust happened and that, historically and in the present, Jews have gotten/are getting a lot of shit. But my people have also experienced two separate instances of genocide, and are currently being raped and killed by ISIS in northern Iraq, our ancestral home, where we have lived for the past 2000 years. Despite this, you don’t see us appealing to racist, islamophobic imperialist powers to carve us out a chunk of land in which we are no longer the majority, in which, in order to become the ethnic and religious majority, thousands of people would have to be displaced. Honestly, we have a stronger case than Israel. That has always been our land. We do not need to cite Bible passages that are thousands of years old to make a claim to what has always been ours. Church bells that have rung in Mosul for 1700 years are no longer ringing. But I digress.
I will never forget the faces of the anti-divestment zionists at the student government meeting in March, unable to care when Palestinian students spoke about their dead relatives, when Nigerian students spoke in solidarity with Eritrean South Sudanese asylum seekers and Ethiopian Jews in Israel. To them, the pain of their past was all that mattered. Their “birthright” (which, for most of them, should be somewhere in Europe and not in the Middle East) was something they were entitled to, while the Palestinian right of return to land that had always been theirs was nothing, was something that the powers that be could grant if they were feeling generous. I wanted to shake them and tell them to look at our side of the room, to see who was standing with us. If they had, they would have seen white students, Arab students, black students, queer students, Jewish students, Christian students, Muslim students, and on and on and on. They would have seen people who are able to conceive of multiple and simultaneous oppressions, of the fact that an oppressor can also be oppressed. They might have even looked back at their side of the room, and seen the hate in their own eyes, seen their inability to listen to what we were saying.
When my zionist Facebook friends (I should block or unfriend them but oh well) post statuses addressed to their “social justice friends” alerting us that anti-semitism still exists, posting articles about European Jews fleeing violence and persecution once again, I can’t believe how obtuse they’re being. When Holocaust survivors are speaking out against Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, you have NO RIGHT to appropriate their experiences to justify the oppression of another people. When people who have lived through anti-semitism at its worst say that what you are advocating is wrong, you have no right to contradict them. When black South Africans compare compare Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Israel to apartheid, you DO NOT tell them that they are wrong, that they do not understand subtlety, that you, a white American Jew in the United States, understand better than they do. And when you use African American civil rights activists’ words and struggle out of context to justify an occupation orchestrated by an anti-black regime that is in violation of international law, you better sit down and shut up because I have nothing left to say to you.