Since the outbreak of horrific violence in Israel/Palestine in the aftermath of the October 7 attack by Hamas on the Israeli community surrounding the Gaza Strip, American Jews have come together to share their grief and the legacy of the Holocaust. They have voiced their opposition to using it as a weapon.
Last Friday they disrupted the night rush Grand Central Station in New York City. Hundreds of Jews flooded the train station, unfurling placards that read “ceasefire now,” “not in our name,” and “never again to anyone,” in an impression of civil disobedience. showed a great performance. This was the latest act of intensive mobilization largely strategized by Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now. And on October 18, at least 300 activists were arrested. arrested A Jewish-led rally was held at the U.S. Capitol, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Such organization is notable in that it disrupts the way the Holocaust unfolded, rationalizing attacks and revenge and rotating them as “humanitarian” attacks on defense and military targets, but this rotation is emerging from Gaza. This is contradicted by reports and videos. American Jewish activists acknowledge the pain, fear, and sadness we all feel about Hamas’s murderous actions. However, we understand that the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not begin on that day.
my in-depth interview Jewish critics of Israeli policy have demonstrated a long process of forgetting the story of how tanks and bombs will make them safe and protect them from another holocaust. Many of them became acutely aware of the reality of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the devastation of Gaza through long periods of blockade and periodic wars. They were morally outraged. They refuse to allow such structural and direct acts of violence to be carried out in their name. Therefore, they emphasize, “Not in our name,” as they reconsider what it means to be Jewish.
Critics of American Jews see both as Americans whose tax dollars support military expansion, and as Jews who were called out for their own genocide during World War II on behalf of the American president and his president. Mobilized. secretary of state, echoing the rhetoric of Benjamin Netanyahu.biden Said “Hamas’ only purpose is to kill Jews,” he said. This statement is coupled with the horrors depicted in the footage shot on October 7th, especially the “clash of civilizations” and “axis of evil.”
Similar to the “war on terror” paradigm, the “war on Hamas” debate is a cultural and religious reductionism devoid of historical and geopolitical analysis, i.e. questions of causation (why Hamas’s identity depends on reducing Hamas’s identity to Hamas. Like in 2001, culturalist argument This policy is highly ahistorical and simplistic, and in its dualistic simplicity produces a devastating militaristic Manichean response rather than political negotiation, reassessment, and interrogation of the root causes. Namely, the imprisonment and long-term occupation of Gaza, the original events of the Nakba. In 1948, what Palestinians call a catastrophic uprooting resulted in the first wave of 750,000 refugees, many of whom ended up in Gaza.
The Hamas attack and its framing, using Nazi metaphors that refer to Hamas Nazis who want to kill Jews as quasi-Jews, have been used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the messianic members of his coalition to justify a new Nakba of the Holocaust. Allowed to reset definitional usage.they actively promote before the attack. American Jewish war critics destroy the dichotomy. They say Israel represents them and that US-backed attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip and escalating settler violence in the West Bank make them safer as Jews. rejects the claim.
American Jewish critics who engage in brutal acts of civil disobedience reject what they interpret as the exclusive value of human life. This, they say, is the wrong lesson of the Holocaust. Jews will not be free or safe until all others in the struggle are free and safe. As their slogan goes, “I’ll never do it to anyone again.”
Atalia Omer is a professor of religion, conflict, and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Days of Awe: Reimagining Israeli in Solidarity with Palestinians (University of Chicago Press, 2019).
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