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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011




Reflections on dissent, remembrance and redemption

saidSara Roy, the 2008 Edward Said Memorial Lecture at the University of Adelaide, 11 October 2009

The Impossible Union of Arab and Jew: Reflections on Dissent, Remembrance and Redemption

This brilliant and moving talk  can be downloaded here.

Some brief extracts

The legitimacy of dissent is perhaps nowhere more challenged today than in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet the ethic of dissent and its crucial importance in remaking a world gone wrong is a core tenet of Judaism. And freedom of dissent has rarely been more urgent than today, when the conflict is descending so tragically into a moral abyss and when, for me at least, the very essence of Judaism, of what it means to be a Jew and a child of survivors, seems to be descending with it.

For me, the Jewish tradition of dissent and its meaning within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be separated from my own personal journey as a child of survivors. The Holocaust has been the defining feature of my life. It could not have beenotherwise. I lost over 100 members of my immediate and extended family in the Nazi ghettos and death camps in Poland—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a sibling not yet born—people from the shtetls of Poland whom I never knew, but who have always been part of my life.

I grew up in a home where Judaism was defined and practiced not as a religion but as a system of ethics and culture. My first language was Yiddish, which I still speak with my family. My home was filled with joy and optimism though punctuated at times by grief and loss. The notion of a Jewish homeland was important to my parents, but unlike many of their friends, they were not uncritical of Israel. Obedience to a state was not an ultimate Jewish value for them. Judaism provided the context for Jewish life, for values and beliefs that transcended national boundaries. For my mother and father, Judaism meant bearing witness, raging against injustice, and foregoing silence. It meant compassion, tolerance, and rescue, and always hearing the voice of the victim. It meant, as Ammiel Alcalay has written, ensuring to the extent possible that the memories of the past do not become the memories of the future.12 In the absence of these imperatives, they taught me, we cease to be Jews…

As I had tried to do with the Holocaust, I tried to remember my first real encounter with the occupation. One of the earliest was a scene I witnessed standing on a street with some Palestinian friends. An elderly man was walking along leading his donkey. A small child of no more than three or four, clearly his grandson, was with him. All of a sudden some nearby Israeli soldiers approached the old man and stopped him. One of them went over to the donkey and pried open its mouth. “Old man,” he asked, “why are your donkey’s teeth so yellow? Don’t you brush your donkey’s teeth?” The old Palestinian was mortified, the little boy visibly upset. The soldier repeated his question, yelling this time, while the other soldiers laughed. The child began to cry and the old man just stood there silently, humiliated. As the scene continued a crowd gathered. The soldier then ordered the old man to stand behind the donkey and demanded that he kiss the animal’s behind. At first, the old man refused but as the soldier screamed at him and his grandson became hysterical, he bent down and did it. The soldiers laughed and walked away. We all stood there in silence, ashamed to look at each other, the only sound the sobs of the little boy. The old man, demeaned and destroyed, did not move for what
seemed a very long time.

I stood in stunned disbelief. I immediately thought of the stories my parents had told me of how Jews had been treated by the Nazis in the 1930s, before the ghettos and death camps, of how Jews would be forced to clean sidewalks with toothbrushes and have their beards cut off in public. What happened to the old man was equivalent in principle, intent, and impact: to humiliate and dehumanize. Throughout that summer of 1985, I saw similar incidents: young Palestinian men stopped in the streets by Israeli soldiers and forced to bark like dogs on their hands and knees or sometimes to dance.

What then is the answer?  How can we as a people reconcile with those we fear and they with us, and realize Edward’s impossible union of Arab and Jew?

For many Jews (and Christians), the answer still lies in a strong and militarized Jewish state. For others, it is found in the very act of survival. For my parents, defeating Hitler meant living a moral life; if we hate, Hitler wins. They sought a world where “affirmation is possible and . . . dissent is mandatory,” where the capacity to witness is restored and sanctioned, where Jews as a people refuse to be overcome by the darkness and turn away from their power to destroy.  In this context, I want to share a moment I heard described over and over, and which has inspired all of my work and writing…

Full lecture downloaded here, Copyright, The University of Adelaide

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