The following speech was given by Jews for Justice in Palestine, a Chicago-based collective working in solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli occupation, at an emergency protest on Saturday. The demonstration was held to protest Israeli escalation in the West Bank and Gaza and the international media’s biased reporting on the events on the ground.
Salaam Alaikum. Thank you for inviting Jews for Justice in Palestine to speak. We are honored to stand with the Palestinian community and to join protests the world over on this solemn day.
Occupation and apartheid are not Jewish values. Collective punishment is not a Jewish value. Racism and colonialism are not Jewish values. Strengthening U.S. imperialism is not a Jewish thing to do. As Jews we say ‘No More!’ to the racist Israelis who take to the streets of Jerusalem chanting ‘death to Arabs’; we say ‘No More!’ to Netanyahu’s calls for revenge; we say ‘No More!’ to the cold-hearted murder of Palestinian youth; we say ‘No More!’ to the Israeli army’s home demolitions, raids, mass imprisonment, detention of youth, and murder of Palestinians in the West Bank. We say ‘No More!’ to the brutal shelling of Gaza. We say ‘No More!’ to the crackdown in East Jerusalem. We say ‘No More!’ to the racism, apartheid, and occupation being committed by the Israeli state in our name.
We stand with Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation and with everyone else suffering under American imperialism the world over. May people of all faiths, races and creeds unite to build a world of justice and peace.
Our people did not suffer oppression and exile for centuries so that we could turn around and become the oppressors of another people. Three times a day, throughout our history, religious Jews have turned to face Jerusalem from wherever they are around the world, and have said the Hebrew prayer ‘May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in compassion’. My grandmother’s grandmother did not chant this prayer from her small town of Sharnov in Poland, crying for redemption, so that a settler-colonial nation-state could send the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine into exile, and crush those who remained under a brutal regime of occupation. Israeli apartheid is a shame not only to the world, it is a shame upon the memory of our Jewish ancestors.
May the Israeli army end its siege of Gaza and the West Bank. May al-Quds soon become what Yerushalayim means in Hebrew- a city of peace. May the land of Palestine soon become a free and democratic place for all its inhabitants. May the refugees return and may people of all races and creeds coexist in that land as in a sanctuary of refuge. May we continue and amplify our struggles for BDS here in the United States, and continue to hold rallies like these to make our voices heard. May we struggle and win a free Palestine.