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.
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.
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.
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.
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.