a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

I’m not a Bad Jew-More Reflections on Israel/Palestine

Posted on: November 19, 2012

 “No Time for a Rally” by Alana Alpert via JewishBoston.com

Even if I believed we had no choice,

I would spend this evening reading the news in horror and pain…

Even if I believed it was us versus them,

I would not rally as if this were a sport…

Even if I believed this was a war of self-defense,I would spend my time praying for peace…

Even if I believed war was a valid option,

I would weep singing psalm 99, wishing Torah never had to be used in this way…

Even if my conception of peoplehood included valuing Jewish life more,

I would wish freedom from fear for every family, searching for photos and stories that helped me access the humanity of the other…

Even if I believed that politicians in Israel had the best interests of their people at heart,

I would not exploit war as an opportunity to project false unity…

Even if I felt war could bring peace,

I would not go this rally.

And neither should you.


I’ve found two really awesome Tumblrs today: How to Support Israel Without Being a Racist and How to Cricize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic both are genius.

Earlier today I did something I told myself I wouldn’t do. I commented on someone’s “If you’re not with Israel then you’re an anti-Semite” status update. Which lead to several other comments which lead to a message which lead to another message which lead to this blog. He asked if I was Pro-Israel, if I was Pro-Jewish…what, to say that I’m not is to say that I’m not a real Jew, that I’m a bad Jew?

I’ve hidden the loud messages from my Facebook thread.

“Stand with Israel!”

“Pro-Israel Rally!”

Pictures of the mangled bodies, lives lost by rocket fire.

The claims that either side is wrong or right. I’ve shut it all down and have instead made a commitment to not talk about it on Facebook, probably not really much here and only in small (160 Characters) on Twitter. Not because I’m apathetic, not because I’m ambivalent, not because I’m Pro-Israel or Pro-Palestine, but because I’m frankly annoyed with all of the rhetoric.

I can be a Jew and care about the lives of innocent Palestinians. I can be a Jew and care about the lives of Israeli. I refuse to stand under any banner that dehumanizes, humiliates, attacks or points fingers towards the other side and will proudly stand under the banner that says I don’t have to feel one way and not the other and no one will take that away from me.

Today at work (mind you I work for a Jewish non-profit currently office-ing out of a large Jewish org) a colleague commented on the kufi scarf and joked that I was wearing it for Palestinian solidarity. I was instantly flustered-I wore it because it went with my outfit. I did get the scarf in Israel while in the Old City at the Market. It is made in Palestine and it’s one of my favorites. I also have it in three other colors-pink and orange and orange and grey. Was wearing it somehow a sign that I was on one team and therefore not on another? Did my other colleagues think this? What about people on the train!?

He was joking, his head is on straight, but he makes a good point. Right now in the U.S as a Jew you can’t really say what you want, you have to be careful with who you say things with-any misstep can pull you in a discussion/argument you didn’t see coming.

Once again I’m praying for peace/shalom/salaam, I’m praying for humility and I’m praying for humanity. I pray that mothers don’t have to bury their children. I pray for leaders to listen with words rather than to speak with rockets and bullets. I pray that we, as American Jews, realize that to be Jewish isn’t to be either for or against Israel/Palestine. I pray that we can find common ground in our similarities and I pray that the holy cities of Israel/Palestine are safe along with their people.



Again comments are closed on this thread. I thank you for your understanding and compliance and ask you to join me in a prayer for peace.



3 Responses to "I’m not a Bad Jew-More Reflections on Israel/Palestine"

I hear you. I firmly place myself in the Zionist camp, but the polarization going on on Facebook is too much for me; I’ve mostly stayed away.

I bought a Palestinian kefiyah when I was in Jerusalem, at the insistence of an Arab friend of mine, and I think it is beautiful and I would love to wear it. But I have never once worn it in public because of the political statement it would make–people, at least in my social circle, know what it means. I hope one day soon I can wear it without my Jewish friends thinking that it means I hate Israel. I want to wear it because I like it, I respect Arab/Palestinian culture, and it reminds me of a dear friend.

Kol Hakavod Achot! As a fellow gay, jew by choice, I’m feeling you and right there with you. Much love. May peace come speedily and sustainably.

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