Jean Anne Kiewel has accused Jewish Voice for Peace of promoting a "false equivalency," for equating slogans from Black Lives Matter and Palestinians. Palestinians often chant, "From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free." She claims that this is hateful. Thankfully, she also acknowledges that Israel's attacks on Hamas are horrific.
Kiewel contends, though, that these Israeli attacks, killing over 25,000 mostly women and children, are not genocidal in intent.
Well, the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice, that Israel must stop its "acts of genocide," starkly contradicts Kiewel. The court identifies extreme language from Israeli officials that undeniably signals exactly such genocidal intent.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said Israel "is fighting human animals," and Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi wrote that Israel has one goal, "erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth." ICJ sees this language as evidence of genocidal intent.
I believe that sincere liberal Zionists, who are not overtly racist toward Palestinians, have not come to terms with the inherent white supremacy of Zionism, whether "liberal" or emanating from the extreme right.
Zionism was always by definition a European settler-colonial project. Yitzhak Laor's book, The Myths of Liberal Zionism, explains the fundamental problems with such Zionism. Laor is a prominent Israel poet.
Led by David Ben-Gurion, Zionism was predicated on displacing indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes, to be replaced by mostly "white" Ashkenazi Jews from Europe.
Israelis take pride in being an outpost of Western civilization in what they see as a backward Arab world. Prime Minister Ehud Barak even termed Israel a "Villa in the Jungle."
South Africa, which brought the Israeli genocide charges to ICJ, can provide us with a valuable context. Just imagine the slogan, "From Atlantic to Pacific, South Africa Will Be Free." It was that concept which terrified the white Afrikaners who ruled under their racist system of Apartheid.
When one-person, one-vote ended Afrikaner minority rule and lifted Nelson Mandela to the presidency, the whole world celebrated. Most white South Africans learned to live in a democracy under Black majority rule in a multiracial state.
JVP's support for Palestinian liberation and true democracy "from the river to the sea" should inspire us all. Like the white allies who collaborated in Mandela's struggle for freedom (and there were many), JVP is living up to the best tradition and values of Judaism.
Here in the U.S., I have often marched with the Black Lives Matter movement, chanting "No Truth, No Justice, No Peace." That slogan is taken from the Jewish Torah. It stands in the long, sacred Jewish tradition of speaking truth to power.
Thomas Kim Hill
This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.