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20-year-old en route to Gaza wants to waken social-justice Jews from ‘Zionist-induced slumber’

US Politics
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Alex Kane, 20, of Marymount Manhattan College, in the Indypendent:

I believe Jewish identification with Israel has corrupted the Jewish soul.  Jews went from being the oppressed outsiders of Europe to the abusers of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.  A big part of being Jewish is to identify with the oppressed.  I have come to acknowledge the connection between my Jewishness and my leftist politics, and concurrently my opposition to Israeli apartheid in all of historic Palestine, something that some older Jews can’t seem to do.

Family members invoke the Holocaust when discussions turn to Israel.  The Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust, I respond.  That doesn’t win the argument with them always.  But that must be the response to those who invoke the horror of the Holocaust and connect it with the founding of Israel.

But enough about me.  I’m a privileged Jewish-American who has a comfortable life in New York.  I feel somewhat uncomfortable writing about my personal history concerning Israel, because it’s not about me, and publishing an article on it may make it seem like this matters… On the other hand, my privilege is one way in which the struggle for Palestinian freedom will be won.  It’s a sad commentary on the racism that informs discussions about Palestine when Jews who speak out against Israeli oppression get more attention than Palestinians.  But I think when more Jews awake from their Zionist-induced slumber, the wheels of dismantling Israeli apartheid will turn faster.

The one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead is approaching.  And I sit in my room brimming with excitement at the though of traveling to Gaza to march, with 1,000 activists from different countries around the world, for Palestinian justice and freedom.  The illegal siege on Gaza makes my blood boil.  Israel must not be allowed to continue their racist and thoroughly un-Jewish suffocation of the people of Gaza. Jewish people have a deep-rooted history of struggle against exclusion and identification with the oppressed, but we betray that history when we muzzle ourselves from critiquing the state that supposedly represents us when they continue to keep Gazans in an open-air prison.

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