Occupation isn’t kosher: Jewish Students Stand Against Zionism

This week, Ephs for Israel will celebrate Israeli Independence Day with a kosher barbeque on Paresky lawn. Israeli independence marks a legacy of Israeli military and colonial occupation of Palestine. As Jewish students at this college, we need to make clear that our relationship with Jewishness, our cultural heritage and religious and spiritual practices, are distinct from supporting the State of Israel. In fact, supporting the State of Israel as it continues to occupy Palestinian land is in direct opposition to our Jewish tradition and our sense of justice

In response to the barbecue, we will join other students who stand with Palestine and against the occupation in dropping a series of banners around Paresky. The banners say “Occupation Isn’t Kosher,” “End Israeli Apartheid” and “Solidarity With The Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike.” Additionally, students will pass out information sheets about the occupation and set up a table to engage the campus in conversations about justice in Palestine and counter the narratives put out by Ephs for Israel. Through this, we stand in solidarity with Palestinian liberation. We invite you to join us.

For decades, Israel has carried on a military occupation of the Palestinian territories and waged violence against Palestinian people. Over these years, persisting through various moments of “conflict,” “peace” and the drawing of borders, one of the world’s best funded militaries, Israel, has systematically displaced, occupied and seized land from Palestinian people. Palestinians have countered violence, land dispossession and exile with resistance. Such resistance continues to this day.

The barbecue hosted on our campus darkly echoes a barbecue thrown by Israeli hardliners outside of Israel’s Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank. On April 16, some 1000 Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike in protest of Israel’s military occupation and particularly the injustices waged against imprisoned Palestinian people. The barbecue held outside the prison on April 20th was meant to taunt these Palestinian prisoners, who are demanding that the Israeli government reinstate visitation rights, install phones in prisons, improve medical care and end solitary confinement. Palestinian hunger strikers are being harshly punished for peaceful protest. In addition, those who supported the hunger strikers by protesting the Israeli barbecue were met with tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets. Unsurprisingly, the Israeli government is refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian prisoners. Any form of criticism of the Israeli government is repressed.

The U.S. government has, of course, long been complicit in the violence and oppression carried out by the Israeli state, with decades of bipartisan support for the military aid to Israel. The close ties between AIPAC [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and the Trump administration further underscore the priorities of the American Jewish political establishment today. Though the Zionist Jewish political establishment claims to speak for all American Jews, we know this is not true. So today, we say again: not in our name.

By disrupting the barbeque, by writing this op-ed and by speaking out against the occupation of Palestine, we hope to destabilize the normalcy and legitimacy of supporting Israel. College and university campuses have recently been sites of repression of criticism of Israel.  However, thousands are standing up for Palestinian justice and liberation. We refuse to let the Jewish establishment wage violence and occupation in our name. We resist the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. We resist anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry. We resist a non-liberatory vision of Judaism, instead celebrating and living an expression of Jewishness that relentlessly pursues justice and demands an end to oppression. We want an end to the occupation. We want our communities to commit to resisting racism, to stand unwaveringly against persecution and to condemn land dispossession and state-sanctioned violence. Our actions at yesterday’s Israeli Independence Day barbecue celebrate our support of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and our solidarity with Palestinians fighting for liberation everywhere.

  • Concerned Reader

    Well, we can all have our opinions but let us make sure that our opinions are presented fairly and not ignoring underlying fact. The Palestinian people are in a terrible situation and the situation is more complex than is stated above. First, the assertion that Israel is occupying “Palestinian Territory” is still debated. There are sources who deem Israel as occupying “disputed territory” not “Palestinian territory.” The subtly matters regarding legal standing. Further, the concept of “occupation” is also debated, as Israel is the only country labeled as an occupier for the identical circumstances that can be easily found elsewhere in the world (the reasons for which are a whole different issue). There has been no proof offered to affirm apartheid and the accusations are typically found as invented and proven completely false. Further, the authors assert that Palestinians have countered with resistance, but fail to explain what the “resistance” looks like. Was the resistance a peace march or a suicide bombing? A sit-in protest or a car ramming into civilians? A vigil or thousands of rockets launched at civilian neighborhoods over a period of years? There is a difference between resistance and terrorism, but I’m not sure resistance is the correct term for the Palestinian actions. Finally, Marwan Barghouti the lead hunger striker in the Israeli prison is no angel. His hunger strike might be a peaceful demonstration today, but his actions that landed him in prison from the start were not peaceful. Google his deeds and learn about Mr. Barghouti’s conviction of murder, terror killings of innocent civilians at restaurants, and his role in car bombings.

  • PineC

    Demonizing Jewish students on campus who want to celebrate Israeli independence by conflating their barbecue with Israeli hardliners taunting Palestinian hunger strikers is not productive.

    “I can speak for a large majority of the Jewish community on campus and say that we stand for a two-state solution. We stand for fair and equitable treatment for the Palestinians. We stand for peace.” -Gefen Laredo, yesterday at UCSB.

  • nick jr

    Let’s set the historical record straight. This is Williams, not Fox news. The authors of this article, some of whom I know and respect, greatly misunderstand the complexity and nuance of Zionism as a movement and the reasons for the establishment of the state of Israel. Unfortunately, misinformation and falsity is becoming the norm in discussions about Israel. In 1945, there were over one million Jewish refugees from the Holocaust with nowhere to go and no country to call home. The nations they formerly called home had betrayed them, massacring their families and turning them over to the Nazis to be slaughtered in the death camps. The US and the UK did not accept the vast majority of these refugees, many of them having to remain in captivity in displaced persons camps after their so-called liberation from the camps. The US had immigration quotas. In this respect, the state of Israel became a political necessity, as the International Community recognized. Since there were at least 1 million Jews with nowhere to go, and Europe did not want to keep them, Israel became the solution to the age-old “Jewish question.” The land Jews decided to use to establish the state of Israel on was purchased legally by Jewish organizations and philanthropists since the late 19th century. Moreover, there has been a continuous, rigorously documented Jewish presence in the land now called Israel since before the Common Era. Jews has lived in Hebron, Jerusalem, Sefad, and other important religious and spiritual cities in the Holy Land throughout the Jewish diaspora. It is also important to recall that Jews were forcibly expelled from the land over the past 2,000 years. It began with the Babylonian Empire, and then the Romans dispersed and colonized the Jews in the early Christian era. Afterwards, the crusaders massacred many of the Jews in the land. More recently, the Ottomans controlled the land and subjected the Jews to discrimination and antisemitism in the 19th century. After the state of Israel was established, Jews living in Arab-Muslim nations around the Middle East and North Africa were expelled or compelled to leave, many of them having their property taken and businesses ransacked.

    See articles here for more information and sources:

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007094

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_the_Ottoman_Empire#Antisemitism

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_the_Arab_world

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_land_purchase_in_Palestine

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_antisemitism

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judea_(Roman_province)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jewish_War

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_captivity

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_and_the_Crusades

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_and_Judaism_in_the_Land_of_Israel

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005462