By Cecilie Surasky
Jewish Voice for Peace
Two days ago at 11:30 in the morning in New Orleans, more than 12 young, proud Jews with Jewish Voice for Peace gave voice to the disillusionment of a generation. They loudly named the unnameable in the Jewish community-Israel’s immoral violations of human rights of Palestinians and much of the Jewish institutional world’s active support of those violations.
And they did it in front of 3,000 Jewish leaders from across America — and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu himself.
If there was ever a moment where courage and moral strength was required, this was it, each person carrying in him or herself the inspiration of Palestinian friends who risk much worse to make their claim to peace and justice.
Here’s what the young Jews, many of them Israeli-American, said:
We care deeply about our history, our families, our spiritual lives and the lessons we learned from our elders about the Jewish values of justice and healing. And we refuse to remain silent about the Israeli settlements, the Occupation, the silencing of dissent, the loyalty oath, the siege of Gaza. Israel’s actions and institutional Jewish support for them are making Israel a pariah and turning us away from the Jewish world we seek to claim and embrace.
I ask you to do two things:
1: Please join them at www.YoungJewishProud.org. They deserve your support.
2: If you are moved by what you see, please share their remarkable story and statement with your friends.
This group of young activists, all with JVP’s Young Leadership Institute, meticulously planned and bravely executed a daring protest in a darkened lecture hall – but not only that.
They wrote an extraordinary statement – a declaration of the political and personal space young Jews are claiming today. Here is an excerpt:
We exist. We are everywhere. We speak and love and dream in every language. We pray three times a day or only during the high holidays or when we feel like we really need to or not at all. We are punks and students and parents and janitors and Rabbis and freedom fighters. We are your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren. We embrace diaspora, even when it causes us a great deal of pain. We are the rubble of tangled fear, the deliverance of values. We are human. We are born perfect. We assimilate, or we do not. We are not apathetic. We know and name persecution when we see it. Occupation has constricted our throats and fattened our tongues. We are feeding each other new words. We have family, we build family, we are family. We re-negotiate. We atone. We re-draw the map every single day. We travel between worlds. This is not our birthright, it is our necessity.
My inspiring 28-year-old colleague Stefanie Fox, who almost miraculously created the space in which each and every participant took on a leading role, texted them moments before Netanyahu went on stage to say that the world was with them.
We now need you to be with them.
Read the declaration. Watch the video they filmed of what exactly happened at Netanyahu’s speech. I warn you, it is very difficult to watch. Sign the declaration. Tell your friends.
Help us build a movement of young, Jewish and proud voices around the world ready to call truth to power and reclaim a vision of Jewishness based on inclusivity, justice and love. And let us take from their powerful vision the inspiration to build a broader inclusive world with young and old, every race and religion, and every nationality, that embraces the principles of equality, mutual respect and love.
Inspired and breathless,
Jewish Voice for Peace