On Monday Dec. 10th I took my dreidels and latkes to the streets, along with dozens of members of the Bubbie Brigade*. We gathered with over 400 New Yorkers, protesting at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Headquarters in NYC. Why the ADL? Because this self-proclaimed civil rights group is sending American cops to be trained by the Israeli military. And we are horrified.
As a Jewish grandmother, one of the most important lessons I’ve passed along to my children and my grandchildren is one our history has taught us time and time again. As Emma Lazarus said,”Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” In other words, our Jewish values demand that we be Jews for justice, not just us!
Singing, dancing, and shouting in the streets that night with the Bubbie Brigade, I felt I was living in the world I want for my grandchildren. Hundreds of people of every age and background followed us through the streets under the light of an 11-foot-tall handmade menorah, holding signs that glowed the words “Safety Through Solidarity.” We stood before the ADL, drowning out calls for militarization and policing with chants for the movements for justice that guide us: Palestinian Liberation, the Movement for Black Lives, Immigrant Justice, Indigenous Movements, and more.
Sending US and Israeli law enforcement and military to learn from one another is a shonda, a disgrace. They exchange some of the worst practices of state violence the US and Israel have to offer each other. Mass surveillance, policing, militarized borders – these things promise safety but actually put us all at risk. Bridges, connections to our neighbors, showing up for one another – that’s where true collective safety comes from. My children know it, my grandchildren know it. Yet the ADL which professes to be a civil rights organization whose mission claims to stand with all marginalized people including Muslims, doesn’t know it. It is shocking to me as a Jew that the ADL has illegally spied on Muslims in the US.
Hopefully the ADL will get the message soon, because the dam is breaking! Not only were we 400 strong on Monday night, but this year, for the first time ever, two police departments pulled out of the ADL’s trip to Israel because of public pressure. The more people know about these trips, the more they want to put an end to them.
It is impossible to justify why the ADL runs these programs. Anyone paying attention to the horrific human rights violations toward asylum seekers at our borders and Palestinian refugees in Gaza can see why ICE agents and the Israeli military should not be exchanging tactics. As Jews who have known what it means to seek asylum, and as bubbies who want to build a future of safety and liberation for our grandchildren, we must take action to end militarization of policing.
And so the Bubbie Brigade proudly took a stand to say: We choose solidarity. We say “never again means never again for all people.” We are calling on the ADL to live up to their professed role as a civil rights organization and to end these deadly exchanges. Until then, we bubbies will be here as we always have, to shout louder than the voices of militarization, fear, walls, and war: Until we are all free, we are none of us free.
* The Bubbie Brigade is a theater group symbolizing the radical bubbies, nonnas, teytas, abuelitas, and grandmas who guide the conscience of our Jewish values.