The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Why I, as an American Jew, stand with Palestine

Never Again. Never Again. Never. Again.

Frail from starvation, devastation plaguing their souls, the prisoners of Buchenwald concentration camp had finally survived the Holocaust. With the far-fetched hope of liberation turned into reality, the newly freed prisoners held up signs that read, “Never Again.”

We, the Jewish people, have since turned this ethos into a keystone of our culture and modern history. Holocaust education is provided both in Hebrew Schools and in the general American public school system to prevent history from repeating itself.

But the state of Israel ironically distorts Never Again to justify violence that devastates Palestinians. Whereas Israel perceives itself to be fighting for the Jewish right to exist while being surrounded by enemy states on all sides, the Palestinian people perceive themselves to be fighting against a colonial takeover of their land since the British gave Israelis control of the land in 1948.

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But I, an American Jew from Los Angeles, am safe. No one is attempting to take away my right to existence. Sure, I’ve been through a handful of anti-semitic experiences, but what minority group in America hasn’t suffered this treatment?  Even Jews living outside of these major cities do not have their existence threatened for being Jewish. No one is trying to systematically kill us.  

While Israel was seen as a necessity for Jewish survival in the wake of the Holocaust, it thankfully no longer is needed. Jewish people in America aren’t just living, we are thriving: according to the Pew Research Center in 2020, U.S Jews are a relatively high-income group, with roughly half saying their annual household income is at least $100,000, which is much higher than the percentage of all U.S households at that level. In just three to four generations, we have hustled from being an immigrant group with practically nothing to the point where half of us annually make $100,000. While anti-semitic comments sting, I can go cry about it in my mother’s jacuzzi, if you catch my drift.

I’m not ignoring the hate crimes that happen to my people. Swastika graffiti seems to be the go-to choice for anti-semitic individuals. Horrible events have occurred, such as the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that took 11 Jewish lives. But this does not equate to the systematic killing of my people, instead showing how anti-semitism, which plagues a few sick individuals, is the battle to be fought, not the Palestinian people.

In fact, Israel’s actions have begun to make global anti-semitism worse because people equate Israel with Jews and assume that we all support their actions. That certainly is not the case. We are a diverse group of people living across the globe, and there’s a popular Jewish saying that for two Jews, there will be three opinions. I have frequently witnessed people commenting “Free Palestine” under videos that show Jewish content or culture that in absolutely no way is related to Israel. People are beginning to conflate all of us with Israel because that is exactly what the Israeli state wants: for you to think they represent all Jews worldwide. Not every Jew on earth supports the violent displacement of human beings.

In theory, a Jewish state seems like a wonderful idea. But if violence is necessary to achieve this, Judaism itself is being inherently contradicted.  Zionists would like you to believe that Jews who don’t support Israel are self-hating, but in actuality, we are following Judaism’s teachings and principles. Genesis 18:19 states that we must follow G-d by doing “what is righteous and just”. How is the violent displacement of Palestinians righteous? Proverbs 3:29: “Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you”. The Palestinians are our ancestral neighbors, why should we harm them if this contradicts G-d’s teachings?  Psalms 11:5: “The Lord examined the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.”

Israel is not fighting for the Jewish right to exist–they are fighting for the right to exist on that land specifically. Zionists argue that Israel should exist because the Jewish people deserve the right to return to our holy land and home prior to expulsion. The fact that Jews lived in Israel 2,000 years ago is not a question–if you think otherwise, I suggest you take a history lesson. But expulsion after expulsion, there has actually been a scarce number of Jews that have always remained in Jerusalem. In fact, the only time Jews have not been in Jerusalem was in the period immediately following Roman destruction and a short time during the Crusades. 

For a group of people whose history is characterized by suffering and constant expulsion, having to run from place to place and surviving on the outskirts of society, how does Israel not see the hypocrisy in what they are doing to Palestinians? How do American Jews not see this hypocrisy? As Jews, we are taught to think critically and always question the world around us. Why should the re-establishment of our ancestral home require that someone else’s be taken away from them?

Often, Israel will claim that their violence is in the name of self-defense against terrorist Hamas and neighboring countries that view Israel as an enemy. But this argument becomes invalid when comparing Israel’s military with Hamas–the IDF has a military budget of roughly $24.3 billion whereas Hamas is dependent on foreign funding, the amount of which is unclear. In 2016, The Times of Israel reported that the group spent around $100 million on military infrastructure annually. In every military facet, Israel far outpaces Hamas, whether that be soldiers, tanks, transportation or weaponry. On the topic of neighbors, Israel is certainly surrounded by countries that see them as an enemy. But Israel has the unyielding support of the United States, a nuclear power that is often considered to have the best military in the world. There’s a reason why their surrounding enemy neighbors have not united to crush Israel instantly–it’s because unyielding support from the U.S. prevents this from ever happening. Israel cannot be practicing self-defense when they are the rottweiler in this fight, Hamas is a chihuahua and Israel’s best friend has the best military in the world with nuclear weapons.

If Israel is actually practicing self-defense, then why are they harming Palestinian civilians? In November, Israel launched a deadly assault on Gaza’s largest hospital, claiming that it secretly harbored Hamas. Independent investigation from the “Washington Post” proved Israel lied because their evidence “falls short” of proving Hamas used the hospital as a command center. According to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in Gaza, which is a war crime.  

Israeli officials have made public statements expressing their aim to deprive civilians in Gaza of food, water and fuel which is then reflected in IDF military operations. There is an online database, compiled by Law for Palestine of 500 statements from authority figures which embody the Israeli state’s intention to commit genocide since October 7, 2023. Dearest reader, if you want to truly educate yourself about what is happening and not simply consume information that affirms your opinion, I suggest looking into it (that goes both ways, if you have information that you think would change my mind, please leave it in the comments of this article).

The International Court of Justice has now found it is “plausible” that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, defining genocide as a “crime committed with the intent to destroy a national ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part”. Systemically starving Palestinians out of existence via blockade is genocide. Bombing hospitals that would keep Palestinians alive is genocide. This is a genocide, and Israeli Authority figures are releasing statements that confirm it.

My Jewish education and culture taught me the value of Never Again. Yet now, Israel is abusing that ethos to commit genocide against Palestinians who are supposed to be their neighbors. As a Jewish woman, it is my duty to stand up to injustice wherever it happens. To not fall victim to propaganda, even if it is coming from my own people across the world. To not be a passive bystander–Never Again!

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