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Why the Bubbie Brigade protests the ADL

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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.

(Photo: Jake Ratner)

Esther Farmer

Esther Farmer works in theater and community development and is an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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14 Responses

  1. festus on December 14, 2018, 11:47 am

    In other words, our Jewish values demand that we be Jews for justice, not just us!

    Once again with the Jewish values.

    Isn’t this just basic morality? Being a decent human being? What is Jewish about that.

    This is a group that is way too ethnocentric for anyone’s good.

    • JWalters on December 15, 2018, 7:36 pm

      Good point. And we now know that telling a group they are “special” is a standard technique of cult leaders. This sugar is always paired with a dire threat for anyone leaving the cult. Ditto for the Jewish cult leaders. (Not all Jews belong to the cult, of course. Mondowiess is decisive evidence of that.)

    • Stephen Shenfield on December 15, 2018, 8:26 pm

      Isn’t the most important thing that they should be defending those values, not how they choose to label them?

      This is the first stage of expansion of the ethnocentric toward the human. The form remains ethnocentric but the content is already human. At the next stage they will shed the ethnocentric form that annoys you so much.

  2. Eva Smagacz on December 14, 2018, 2:51 pm

    festus, you said:

    “This is a group that is way too ethnocentric for anyone’s good.”

    Well, I know plenty of those in public eye, who justify things with “Christian values”.
    And those who sell to a highest bidder will justify things with “Judeo-Christian values”
    or “Judeo-Christian ethics”. 186/201

    Quick scan of Wikipedia doesn’t really explain what those concepts represent, nor how “Jewish values” differ from “Christian values” and what concepts common to both form “Judeo-Christian values”.

    The closest I can come to understand those values from the frequent examples in usage, is that Christian values relate more to helping weak and downtrodden (with charity and welfare) andJewish values relate more to rights of individuals (to justice and human rights).

    Which in both cases is in direct contrast to the social systems from which they came:

    Majority of Western “Christian” countries are the structures where capitalism and property rights are the foundations of the social systems and the Jewish country and Jewish communities are the structures where ethno – religious / tribal belonging is a foundation of the social systems.

  3. RoHa on December 15, 2018, 12:04 am

    “The Bubbie Brigade is a theater group symbolizing the radical bubbies, nonnas, teytas, abuelitas, and grandmas who guide the conscious of our Jewish values.”

    And who guides the unconscious? Freud?

  4. Citizen on December 15, 2018, 7:16 am

    I hope some day our mainstream media decide to point out to the public that militarization of our police force is not something we should copy from Israel. I won’t hold my breath, but hope lies with a handful of newbie congress women.

    • Ellen on December 15, 2018, 9:50 am

      There is money in the jaunts to Israel for police forces in the US; and lots and lots of money to be made in the militarization of civil law enforcement. It is a new and growing industry. But a scourge on civil societies.

  5. amigo on December 16, 2018, 2:28 pm

    Much better to live and act by Jewish values than “Zionist values”.

    Come to think of it, the usual ziocabal on MW never brag about zionist values.I wonder why.

  6. Mooser on December 16, 2018, 5:00 pm

    ,” the usual ziocabal on MW never brag about zionist values.I wonder why.”

    I’m sure they don’t see any difference between Zionist values and Jewish values.

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