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JfJfP comments


2016:

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

2015:

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

2014:

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

2013:

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

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Posts

Jewish dissidents are often ‘outlaws’

JFJFP-Sig-Blog-logo-for-webpage

 

Jo Bird

Are you mixed heritage Jew-ish?

 

You’re welcome in the diverse movement for Palestinian solidarity

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research reported that the intermarriage rate in Britain has been 23-26% since the 1980s. In the USA, more than half of Jewish people marry out. Jewish people have intermingled for centuries, so there will be millions of people with Jewish heritage on one side of their family.

Institute for Jewish Policy Research: Our publications

www.jpr.org.uk

Intermarriage has long been a concern for Jewish community leaders and members. Many have commonly interpreted it as deeply corrosive to Judaism, arguing that it …

What about the children and their children? Many are not considered Jewish by religious and Israeli institutions. Yet their lived experience and family history are an integral part of our rich Jewish spectrum. One of my parents is Jewish, the other is not. For many years, I didn’t feel Jewish enough, or pro-Israel enough, to name and claim my experiences as Jewish. This is my story.

Jo Bird

I grew up assimilated in the north of England. I knew seven Jewish people and they were all in my close family.

Our parents raised me and my sibling with love, humour and politics. We heard family stories of fleeing pogroms in Prussia, a great uncle who fought fascism in the International Brigade – and our granddad fought Nazis and could speak many languages including Yiddish.

We were raised with socialism not God, solidarity not superiority, trade union stickers not mezuzahs, Woodcraft Folk not Hebrew school, Christmas presents not Chanukah gilt, local not Jewish festivals, internationalism not Zionism, and no circumcision.

It was a great childhood in many ways. But I missed learning more good Jewish culture and had no strategies for dealing with everyday antisemitism. My teachers treated everyone as Christian, but I wasn’t. Many people said my mum’s name wrong. Girls called beautiful were mostly blonde. I heard the Jews killed Christ, the Jews this, the Jews that. I had no friends who were Jewish. Why did I always feel different and sometimes lonely?

I looked forward to meeting other Jewish people when I went to Manchester University. At Jewish students society events I met people from many countries who were relaxed about their Jewish identity, looked Jewish, had Jewish sounding names, told jokes, asked familiar questions without pausing and had anxiety attacks. “Wow!” I thought, “Its not only my family that does that!”

They told me I was Jewish because my mother is, which was not convincing. My mixed race friends were black and targets of racism, no matter which parent provided their genes. Still, I was ‘reassured’ that I was Jewish enough for Hitler to have sent me to the gas chambers – which was terrifying. Within student union politics, the Jewish society were right-wing, so their group was no place for me. I didn’t know then that the State of Israel provides funding for many Jewish organisations, including the Union of Jewish Students.

I discovered Jewish identity can be self-defined and learned rather than inherited. I visited Jewish museums and synagogues, talked with extended family, made friends who were Jewish, listened and read a lot.

Everything I had seen on BBC TV was replaced by my first hand experience in Palestine

However, the key turning point was visiting Palestine~Israel in 2001. After going through military checkpoints into Bethlehem in the West Bank, I met Jewish people from many countries, including Israel, who said the occupation is wrong. I was welcomed as a Jewish person, by Jews – and by Palestinian people who had every reason to be hostile to Jews and the Jewish state.

Almost everything I had seen on BBC TV was replaced by my first hand experience. Palestinian strangers invited us into their homes. Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat welcomed us to his Ramallah compound – and ordered pizza! In Israel, I met relatives, brave refuseniks, Jews who spoke Arabic, survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants. I started a co-op to take people on study tours to see the ‘both sides’ of the situation for themselves – in partnership with the Alternative Tourism Group. A new Palestinian friend designed the Olive Co-op’s logo for free and asked me to take Jews to the West Bank. Over the next three years, over 200 people came on Olive Co-op tours, of which a third were Jewish.

These days, I am relaxed about my Jewish identity. I call myself a Jaetheist, and joke that I’m not a very good Jew because I don’t practice [the religion]. I do practice solidarity though.

The Jewish pro-Palestinian movement includes Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, the new Jewish Voice for Labour and many more groups. We say Israel does not speak in our name. We stand for justice and human rights for all. We identify and combat antisemitism. I’ve learned more about rich Jewish traditions of dissent and justice. Many of us feel solidarity with Palestinians because of, not in spite of, our Jewish heritage.

I love the diversity of our Jewish pro-Palestinian movement – we have so many different histories and experiences. We are communities of people who show solidarity with Palestinian people and who had a Jewish grandparent, step-parent, or are exploring their own Jew-ish identity. If this is part of your experience too, you are very welcome.

Jo Bird is co-founder of Jewish Voice for Just Peace – Ireland

 

 

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