Young, Jewish, proud


November 14, 2010
richardmichaelkuper

youngjewishproud

Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director, Jewish Voice for Peace writes:” [On 8th November] in New Orleans, more than 12 young, proud Jews with Jewish Voice for Peace gave voice to the disillusionment of a generation. They loudly named the unnameable in the Jewish community – Israel’s immoral violations of human rights of Palestinians and much of the Jewish institutional world’s active support of those violations.
And they did it in front of 3,000 Jewish leaders from across America — and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu himself…”

The Young Jewish Declaration

A vision of collective identity, purpose and values written by and for young Jews committed to justice in Israel and Palestine. It is an invitation and call to action for both our peers and our elders, launched as a counter-protest at the 2010 Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans.

I. we exist.

I ExistWe exist. We are everywhere. We speak and love and dream in every language. We pray three times a day or only during the high holidays or when we feel like we really need to or not at all. We are punks and students and parents and janitors and Rabbis and freedom fighters. We are your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren. We embrace diaspora, even when it causes us a great deal of pain. We are the rubble of tangled fear, the deliverance of values. We are human. We are born perfect. We assimilate, or we do not. We are not apathetic. We know and name persecution when we see it. Occupation has constricted our throats and fattened our tongues. We are feeding each other new words. We have family, we build family, we are family. We re-negotiate. We atone. We re-draw the map every single day. We travel between worlds. This is not our birthright, it is our necessity.

II. we remember.

We remember slavery in Egypt, and we remember hiding our celebrations and ritual. We remember brave, desperate resistance. We honor a legacy of radical intellectuals and refugees. We remember the labor movement. We remember the camps. We remember when we aged too quickly. We remember that we are still young, and powerful. We remember being branded as counterrevolutionaries in one state and hunted during the red scare of another. We remember our ancestors’ suffering and our own. Our stories are older than any brutal war. We remember those who cannot afford to take time to heal. We remember how to build our homes, and our holiness, out of time and thin air, and so do not need other people’s land to do so. We remember solidarity as a means of survival and an act of affirmation, and we are proud.

III. we refuse.

We refuse to have our histories distorted or erased, or appropriated by a corporate war machine. We will not call this liberation. We refuse to knowingly oppress others, and we refuse to oppress each other. We refuse to be whitewashed. We will not carry the legacy of terror. We refuse to allow our identities to be cut, cleaned, packaged nicely, and sold back to us. We won’t be won over by free vacations and scholarship money. We won’t buy the logic that slaughter means safety. We will not quietly witness the violation of human rights in Palestine. We refuse to become the mother who did not scream when wise King Solomon resolved to split her baby in two. We are better than this. We have ancestors to honor. We have allies to honor. We have ourselves to honor.

IV. we commit.

We commit ourselves to peace. We will stand up with honest bodies, to offer honest bread. We will stand up with our words, our pens, our songs, our paintbrushes, our open hands. We commit to re-envisioning “homeland,” to make room for justice. We will stand in the way of colonization and displacement. We will take this to the courts and to the streets. We will learn. We will teach this in the schools and in our homes. We will stand with you, if you choose to stand with our allies. We will grieve the lies we’ve swallowed. We commit to equality, solidarity, and integrity. We will soothe the deepest tangles of our roots and stretch our strong arms to the sky. We demand daylight for our stories, for all stories. We seek breathing room and dignity for all people. We are committed to the struggle. We are the struggle. We will become mentors, elders, and radical listeners for the next generation. It is our sacred obligation. We will not stop. We exist. We are young Jews, and we get to decide what that means.

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Excerpt of posting email from Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director, Jewish Voice for Peace – video on http://www.youngjewishproud.org/

I’ve only just now finally found a minute to share with you one of the most important things I’ve ever witnessed in the Jewish movement for justice. Many of us feel in our bones that it was a historic turning point, and that we can never go back.

You might have read about it in the Washington Post, or the front page of Huffington Post, in your hometown newspaper or seen it on TV. If you live In Israel, you have seen or heard about it everywhere – the whole country is talking about it. Much of the institutional Jewish world is talking about it too.

Two days ago at 11:30 in the morning in New Orleans, more than 12 young, proud Jews with Jewish Voice for Peace gave voice to the disillusionment of a generation. They loudly named the unnameable in the Jewish community-Israel’s immoral violations of human rights of Palestinians and much of the Jewish institutional world’s active support of those violations.

And they did it in front of 3,000 Jewish leaders from across America — and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu himself.

If there was ever a moment where courage and moral strength was required, this was it, each person carrying in him or herself the inspiration of Palestinian friends who risk much worse to make their claim to peace and justice.

Here’s what the young Jews, many of them Israeli-American, said:

We care deeply about our history, our families, our spiritual lives and the lessons we learned from our elders about the Jewish values of justice and healing. And we refuse to remain silent about the Israeli settlements, the Occupation, the silencing of dissent, the loyalty oath, the siege of Gaza. Israel’s actions and institutional Jewish support for them are making Israel a pariah and turning us away from the Jewish world we seek to claim and embrace.

They wrote an extraordinary statement – a declaration of the political and personal space young Jews are claiming today. Here is an excerpt:

We exist. We are everywhere. We speak and love and dream in every language. We pray three times a day or only during the high holidays or when we feel like we really need to or not at all. We are punks and students and parents and janitors and Rabbis and freedom fighters. We are your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren. We embrace diaspora, even when it causes us a great deal of pain. We are the rubble of tangled fear, the deliverance of values. We are human. We are born perfect. We assimilate, or we do not. We are not apathetic. We know and name persecution when we see it. Occupation has constricted our throats and fattened our tongues. We are feeding each other new words. We have family, we build family, we are family. We re-negotiate. We atone. We re-draw the map every single day. We travel between worlds. This is not our birthright, it is our necessity.

My inspiring 28-year-old colleague Stefanie Fox, who almost miraculously created the space in which each and every participant took on a leading role, texted them moments before Netanyahu went on stage to say that the world was with them.

We now need you to be with them. Go to http://www.youngjewishproud.org/ Read the declaration. Watch the video they filmed of what exactly happened at Netanyahu’s speech. I warn you, it is very difficult to watch. Sign the declaration. Tell your friends.

Help us build a movement of young, Jewish and proud voices around the world ready to call truth to power and reclaim a vision of Jewishness based on inclusivity, justice and love. And let us take from their powerful vision the inspiration to build a broader inclusive world with young and old, every race and religion, and every nationality, that embraces the principles of equality, mutual respect and love.


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