ABORIGINAL JUSTICE/PALESTINE REFLECTION: Recognizing Palestine in my Jewish identity

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CPTnet
8 February 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE/PALESTINE REFLECTION: Recognizing
Palestine in my Jewish identity

        In partnership with Jewish and Muslim women, 
Emily Green has organized an interfaith 
fundraising dinner for Christian Peacemaker 
Teams
 in Toronto, 14 February 2013.

by Emily Green, CPT intern, Aboriginal Justice Team

“Where is
Palestine?” I asked my mother.

“You don’t
know?!” she replied incredulously. “Palestine isn’t a real place. It doesn’t
exist.”

This
conversation marked a turning point in my relationship with Judaism as I began
to learn about the conflicts that had been carefully left out of my Hebrew
school education. I had asked my mother this question after a long conversation
with new friends who were Muslims from Gaza. Their friendship encouraged me to
learn about the reality of Palestine, and challenged me to consider my
responsibility as a Canadian Jew.

I have worked to
educate myself on Israel-Palestine struggles, and to unlearn some of the
Israeli nationalist agenda that was a part of my upbringing. I have learned
about the bulldozing of Palestinian homes. At times I have felt guilt for the
violence perpetrated in the name of Jewish defense. Guilt can be useful if it spurs
learning rather than decaying into shame. My challenge is to understand my role
as a Jew in solidarity with Palestinian people. It is much easier for me to
understand this academically than to find avenues to concrete action.

Part of this
journey has involved further conversations with my family. Last Passover my
sister and I shared the story, broadcast on metro
morning
,
of our friend Lia Tarachansky, a pro-Palestinian Jew who grew up in an Israeli
settlement.  I have been connecting with
other Jewish Palestinian allies through groups like the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the Independent Jewish Voices, and more local groups like the
newly-forming Grassroots
Shabbat
.
Jews who organize to say that having love for Palestinians is not the same as
hating Jews offer a powerful and important message when people with a
“pro-Palestinian” or “anti-Zionist” political stance are often accused of being
“anti-Semitic.”

There are deep
correlations

between the Israel-Palestine conflict and the conflict between the Canadian
State and the indigenous of the territory also known as Turtle Island. In both
instances a native population was colonized, with genocidal violence, and the
native populations were forced into segregated regions in areas less attractive
for settlement. The parallels continue today as the indigenous of both
Palestine and Turtle Island experience state violence, segregation,
surveillance, and resource exploitation without their consent. Colonialism will
not step back on its own–in Palestine-Israel or in Turtle Island-Canada. This
is why I am committed to the struggles to undo colonialism and end oppression.

These
understandings led me to the Community Worker program at George
Brown College, where we seek to understand issues faced by Canada’s marginalized communities
and learn rights-based approaches in advocacy, activism and social services.
For my student placement, I chose to work with CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team.  We are planning a Middle
Eastern feast

Valentine’s Day fundraiser, to bring together people of different faith backgrounds,
to continue this conversation. While the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict
lie in geopolitical interests and the agendas of superpower nations, some of
the resolution can begin within our own communities.

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