Americans Have A Role To Play In Disrupting The Occupation — But Only If They Work With Palestinians
Recently, Mikhael Manekin wrote an article for Haaretz critiquing the role of diaspora Jews in anti-occupation work. Manekin accuses American Jewish activists of not working together with local forces on the ground in Israel and Palestine. However, both actions he criticizes, the rebuilding of a Palestinian village in the South Hebron hills and the disruption of a nationalistic right wing march in East Jerusalem, were conceived and carried out by a coalitions of activists in Israel-Palestine, though they included organizers from abroad. I had the honor to take part in both actions, and to be one of the organizers of the Disrupt Jerusalem Day event together with other activists from the local Free Jerusalem and from the Diaspora groups IfNotNow and All That’s Left.
I was born and raised in Chicago where I received an incredible Jewish education and formed a community that aided me in becoming the person I am today. In my studies I was taught crucial biblical lessons such as loving the stranger, pursuing justice, and making everyone feel as if they have dignity. These lessons prompted me to come out to my community when I was 18 years old and was thankful to receive the same love and support as I did prior to my coming out.
As someone who is actively working to connect my Jewish and gay identities, I know Hillel to be the most welcoming, inclusive place I have ever worked. One of the perks of my job is visiting campuses across the country and seeing how students are embraced at Hillel because of their myriad identities, not despite them. The programs we run, the diversity we model and the inclusivity we foster show students at an impressionable time that they are valued for their whole selves.
My mother survived the Holocaust. Her story is one of courage, quick thinking and good fortune. After moving, with her parents, from Austria to France then Belgium to escape the Nazis, she hid in a hospital for two years. She endured.