Carleton University professor Mira Sucharov has raised a challenging question for Jews who believe strongly in equality and human rights for Palestinians. Is it possible, she asks to “love” Israel and be committed to Palestinian solidarity at the same time? Though directed at Jews, her question also challenges Palestinians to imagine a new and different Israel/Palestine where Jews and Palestinians can live together in equality. Read more….
In an interesting and heart-felt essay in Jewish Telegraph Agency, a Jewish Canadian academic laments that she doesn’t feel that she quite fits into any existing group on the Israel/Palestine issue.
“Of course there are American Jews who love Israel and Israeli culture but despise the occupation. But they are all too often silent on the deepest, most entrenched parts of Israeli oppression of Palestinians: refugees, the siege on Gaza, systemic inequality within Israel,” she wrote.
On the other hand she continued, “The Palestinian-based groups are naturally not focused on Hebrew and Israeli culture. But neither are the few radical Jewish groups, it seems to me, that are human-rights focused.”
“I think I need to start a new group,” she wrote. “A group for Jews who are committed to Palestine solidarity, and who love Hebrew and Israeli culture. A group that feels connected to Israel.”
Almost as soon as she pressed “send” on her post, she started to get answers from other Jewish readers “Count me in”, they said. And quickly a new Facebook page called “Drahim – a new path forward” acquired several hundred Jewish members.
In an initial statement, Sucharov outlined 7 “group principles”.
Drachim — A New Path Forward for Israel/Palestine
1. An end to the West Bank occupation, and to Israel’s siege on Gaza.
2. Support of legal reform in Israel to bring about equity and equality for Palestinian citizens.
3. Recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees to return, and restitution for property expropriated by Israel. We point to projects like those issued by the NGO Zochrot to help envision what return might look like.
4. We condemn all violence against any and all civilians whether in Israel, Palestine or in the Diaspora. We also condemn all expressions of antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. Neither do we stand in the way of any form of non-violent resistance by Palestinians intended to bring about justice.
5. We do not demand particular post-justice state arrangements, namely whether the outcome is one state or two, or a confederation arrangement. We are aware that many diplomatic calls, and the calls by many self-described peace groups, for a “two-state solution” as the only fair solution, has served, if inadvertently, to entrench the status quo. That is, as the two-state solution has become less of an apparent possibility, the demand for it by Jewish groups and others implies that Palestinians should be patient. We feel we cannot demand patience from Palestinians for wanting to exercise their basic human rights.
6. any reimagined polity should extend the idea of political community to both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Accordingly, we call for an end to institutionalized ethnic hegemony.
7. We envision a society that nurtures and elevates the cultural and linguistic traditions of Israeli Jews and of Palestinian Arabs. Arabic must be brought back to equal status with Hebrew (the 2018 Nation-State Law demoted it from an official language). We want to see the support and funding of new projects that continue to produce fine Hebrew-Israeli and Arabic-Palestinian cultural products — including film, literature, television, theatre and music. And we look forward to the continuation of new synergies across these traditions, without one being assimilated into the other. Both communities and cultures must be encouraged to flourish.
Principles similar to 3 BDS demands
Astute observers cannot help noticing that the first 3 principles are almost identical to the three main demands of the BDS movement, although that movement is not mentioned. “We were careful not to use words that would label people or box them in before having a conversation”, said Sucharov.
Sucharov’s new Facebook group called “Drachim – A new path forward for Israel/Palestine” already has over 450 members. It is a “closed” group, intended to be a space for a conversation among like-minded Jews..
CTIP interviewed Professor Sucharov about her motivations and her hopes.
A challenge to Jews… and also to Palestinians
Sucharov’s post is obviously a challenge to Jews. Its support for the Palestinian right of return will be difficult for many Jews, as it challenges Jewish numerical superiority and therefore seems to put into question the basic notion of a “Jewish” state.
On the other hand, her reflection and her question also poses a challenge to Palestinians, as she envisages a society in which both Israeli Jews and Palestinians not only live equally, but can evolve and thrive culturally.
Food for thought for many.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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