As Jews we know, this is not a war. It’s a genocide. – Mondoweiss
On October 18, 2023, the Fulton County Commission passed a proclamation for a “Stand with Israel” day. At the meeting, Dov Wilker, Atlanta regional director for the American Jewish Committee stated that “This is not a war against the Palestinian people. This is a war against a terrorist group that slaughters their own.”
At the time of Mr. Wilker’s statement, over 4,200 Palestinians had been killed by Israel’s incessant bombing. That number is now over 11,000, thousands of whom are children.
Residents in Gaza had already gone several days without food, water, or electricity as Israel had cut off access to water, shut off their electricity, and blocked the entrance of any aid from Egypt. Over 1 million Palestinians were being displaced from their homes as Israel warned them to evacuate Northern Gaza.
And yet, Mr. Wilker stated that this was not a war against the Palestinian people. With so many dead, so many displaced, and so many dying, he may be right, that this is not a war. It is a genocide of the Palestinian people.
We need only look at our own history as Jews to understand this.
Many of us have grown up with personal accounts passed down from our ancestors. Our own great grandparents fled Ukraine shortly after World War I with only what they could fit in two suitcases. And they were part of the resistance in the camps in the former Czechoslovakia to prevent being deported to Auschwitz. They are fighting to regain citizenship to Spain on behalf of our families who faced the choice to convert or leave during the Inquisition. It is in our bones that our safety is not guaranteed and we carry that with us.
Our Jewish ancestors were persecuted as a means of protecting nation-states and their power. We were an existential threat subject to different laws from our neighbors, killed for challenging those laws, and told we had brought this treatment upon ourselves. The world repeatedly witnessed as we were displaced, targeted for violence, and subjected to horrific genocides. We were told we were untrustworthy, and so we were deserving of all this inhumane treatment.
Reflecting on this history, we see we have so much in common with the Palestinian people. A people whose land was seized from them over 75 years ago. A people who have been subjected to a different set of laws based on their ethnicity. A people who are told that any form of resistance against this treatment is unjustified and will be met with even greater violence and destruction. This has included the Israeli military targeting unarmed protestors, journalists, and medics with live ammunition and barring leaders of pro-Palestinian movements from travel.
On our screens, from our beds and couches, we are watching bombs drop and tanks move into Gaza, and the faces of devastating loss. This cannot be called a war; it is more aptly described as an ongoing genocide. One that the U.S. provides financial, political, and military support to, and one with no sign of abating, even for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow sufficient water, food, and medical assistance into Gaza.
In understanding our own history, we must speak out against this state-sponsored violence, which has been ongoing for the last 75 years. We stand for the liberation of Palestinian people because we have known what it is to not be free. We join with one another to demand “free Palestine” because we hold to the tenets of Tikkun Olam that we are called to the work of “repairing the world.” We take to the streets and talk to our family and post on social media that Palestinian liberation is central to our Judaism because we were told “never again.”
The phrase “never again” lives in our bones and echoes in our ears over and over because never again will we be complicit in the genocide of any people. Never again will we allow the world to ignore the attempted erasure of human dignity and human lives. Never again means not now. Not ever. For anyone.
Sig, Ari, and Sasha are all part of a Jewish Atlanta collective working to end the occupation in Palestine.
At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever.
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