ODS Initiative: An open letter to our Jewish allies

For hundreds of years, colonialism has weaponized identity to justify its atrocities. Today, the Zionist settler colonial project claims to be a Jewish endeavour, and claims the Palestinian liberation struggle to be an antisemitic endeavour. This is why you, our dear Jewish allies, can make a difference—and why we address this letter to you. We first of all thank you for the courageous stances you have taken, not only in words but in deeds. What has pained us Palestinians most over the past weeks was not the enemy’s bombs—we have been living under occupation for 75 years, and know its horrors well. What has grieved us most is the silence of the silent. Amidst this stillness, your voices, your cries, as well as those of countless others, have warmed our hearts. Even more importantly, “not in my name” is more than a moral stance: By laying bare the double lie of conflating colonialism with Judaism and accusing liberation efforts of antisemitism, it hits at the core of Zionism’s alleged “legitimacy”. As such, it is crucial.

Truth is on the side of your courageous political stances. For hundreds of years, Jews have resided in peace in Palestine, amidst Palestinians, as Palestinians. Gaza itself had a flourishing Jewish quarter whose tranquillity was only disturbed after the Zionist advent to Palestine. It is Zionist colonialism, not religious differences or “clashes of civilizations”, that caused the rift. Today, our struggle as Palestinians is not against Jews, but against the ideology and movement that manufactured this sectarian rift and weaponized it to justify its supremacist endeavour. We aim, not to “evict Jews from Palestine”, but to dismantle the so-called “Jewish state” and its oppressive colonial relations of power, and to replace it with its fundamental antithesis: one democratic, secular, Palestinian state, from the river to the sea. Democratic, in that it would provide equal rights and representation to all its citizens; Secular, in that it would guarantee freedom of worship and would not segregate on the basis of religious, ethnic or other identity; Palestinian, in that it would guarantee the right of Palestinian refugees to return, end once and for all the apartheid maintained against the Palestinian people, and restore the multicultural Palestinian society to what it was before Israel: A beautiful mosaic of life.

Moved by a profound love of justice, sometimes religious, sometimes simply human, you have chosen to be part of this liberation movement. In doing so, you have taken a stand, not just with Palestine, but also with your own societies. Indeed, colonialism’s sectarian narratives fragment, not only the societies they target, but also those they create and those they originate from: Those they target, as has been happening in the 75-year old catastrophe in Palestine, up to today in Gaza; those they create, as we can see in the religious-secular, Ashkenazi-Mizrahi, white-black and other identitarian divides among the settlers in Palestine; and those they originate from, as we can see from Zionism’s flattening of Yiddish, Sephardic, and Judeo-Arab cultures to manufacture an Israeli identity built around brutality and fear, and from its unholy alliances with the far rights throughout Europe and North America. Don’t French citizens of Jewish descent shiver when Netanyahu tells them Israel, not France, is their home? Have European Jews not suffered enough from ideologies, movements and states that viewed them as belonging to societies other than theirs? What “Western” imperialism has built in Palestine—and all the other lands it has colonized—has been extremely successful at wreaking havoc there. Yet its identitarian rhetoric comes at a cost, and has already started to come back to bite it.

In this sense, the struggle for the dismantling of the settler colony in Palestine and the establishment of One Democratic State in its stead is not a struggle that is limited to Palestine. Rather, it is a global struggle that originates from Palestine but will not end with its liberation. The past few weeks have shown that the occupation of Palestine is not limited to it; that the settler colonial state of Israel is part of a world-wide imperialist network, whose colonial relations of power extend from the USA’s armament industry capitalists to Europe’s municipalities to Meta’s algorithms and finally to the “Palestinian” Authority and “Arab” rulers. Our struggle against colonialism is really humankind’s struggle; and your joining it is more than mere solidarity with Palestine: It is a stance of survival.

In the spirit of our common struggle, allow us to suggest two courses of action. The first is immediate: Keep pressuring your governments to stop the genocide—Ceasefire now. Get organized in existing, trustworthy movements. Play your role in the establishment’s political parties that are “less right-wing than others”: Threaten to split them, pressure its leaders; they are cowardly and will obey you if you organize your efforts. The second is longer-term. We urge you to recognize the sectarian narratives that are being sung by the actual decision-makers in your societies; to recognize who these decision-makers are and how they weaponize identity to fragment you. With time, we hope you will join political parties that seek no less than an upheaval of this evil world order, rather than submit to its rotten cultural hegemony and play within the field of its oppressive relations of powers.

For all you have done, dear allies, we thank you. And for all you will do, we hope to be in touch; to coordinate our common fight for a new world: A world where Palestine and all other societies are free from sectarian rifts and capitalist interests; A post-colonial, democratic, solidary, just, and free world.

This was originally published by the ODS Initiative whose petition has received over 14,000 signatures to date

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