On Sunday, January 11th the official Seattle Jewish community will host a “solidarity rally” for Israel at Temple DeHirsh Sinai. The purpose of the event is to support Israeli policy and specifically its attack on Gaza. One of the main speakers at the solidarity rally will be Nevet Basker, a board member of the right-wing pro-Israel Stand With Us. The blue and white of the Israeli flag will wave. The thrilling chords of Hatikvah will resound. Pro-Israel patriotism will ring out.
Though many local Jewish organizations are co-sponsoring this event none of the Jewish peace groups here in town have been asked. Nor would they likely have signed on. This event DOES NOT represent all of Seattle’s Jewish community. It represents the leadership of the Jewish community and a self-selected segment of the rest of the community. As such, the politics represented at this event will place all blame for the conflict on the Palestinians and none on Israel. It will justify Israel’s savage, disproportionate attack on the civilians of Gaza. It will whitewash the death and devastation wrought by the IDF on Gaza if it will even mention it at all. It will present the government’s position to the exclusion of any other. It will not present any of the critical voices either in Israel itself or here in our own national or local community. In short, Sunday promises to be a whitewash.
To be clear, while I am critical of this rally I am not critical of the Jewish community and in fact consider myself a member of it. While I am critical of Israeli policy, I am not critical of the existence of the State of Israel. That is why I announce my absence from the solidarity event not with a sense of satisfaction, but rather with a sense of sadness.
It would certainly not have been easy to create a program that could have truly brought the ENTIRE community together. But I’m afraid to say that Seattle’s leaders didn’t even try. So they will get what they paid for. A program that represents a narrow cross section of the ideological/political spectrum. It’s sad that it had to be that way.
That Sunday, I will be voicing my feelings about Israel’s attack on Gaza though not at DeHirsh. I will be at Kadima’s program speaking with two other Jewish peace activists. There we will collectively discuss our responses to the Gaza invasion. Some guests may voice sympathy and support for Israel, especially for the innocent victims of rocket attacks. But the major difference from the community’s program is that we will not be bound by an agenda that rejects empathy for both sides. We will not be afraid to demand that Israel revert to honoring Jewish values which this offensive has trampled. We will not be afraid to say that killing Palestinian civilians is a travesty that deserves the opprobrium of Jews and non-Jews everywhere. We will not be afraid to demand that both sides compromise in achieving a workable ceasefire.
Kadima Reconstructionist Community invites you to join a discussion:
THE CRISIS AND WAR IN GAZA AND SOUTHERN ISRAEL
Judith Kolokoff, American Jews for a Just Peace
Barbara Lahav, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 10:30 AM– NOON
Sandpoint Education Center, 6208 60th NE, Seattle