In the back wearing kaffiyehs, my brother Loai (Ali) Najjar and I at a May 14 IfNotNow rally (‘ Embassy of Freedom’) in D.C.

It’s not the Jewish future or Jewish “safety” that demands Palestinian freedom — that’s NOT what the liberation of Palestine is all about!

It’s about Palestinian Arabs of all religions shaking off the unconscionable Zionist regime — nothing to do with healing the Jewish soul.

My brother and I have marched with you in D.C., and whereas I applaud your passionate disgust with Israel’s crimes against us, I feel offended and bewildered when you speak of the Palestinian Nakba in terms like:

“The Jewish future demands Palestinian liberation.”

If young American Jews are not for us against the Zionist plague, unconditionally FOR OUR OWN SAKE, who will be for us?

You need to stand shoulder to shoulder in true solidarity with us, not apart from us.

The Palestinian future demands Palestinian freedom.

The Palestinian future demands Palestinian freedom.

Instead you say, “We know the liberation of our Jewish community is bound with the liberation of all people, especially those in Israel/Palestine. After everything we have been through as a people we are understandably desperate for safety, but walls and wars will only lead to more bloodshed. The Jewish future demands Palestinian freedom, and the denial of this simple fact puts us all in danger. If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?”

You say, you “don’t do Zionism”. Why not?

Zionism is not a movement for Jewish self defense, it is a movement for settler-colonialism.

What does being “in solidarity” mean?

There are a few fundamental tenets as to what constitutes being “in solidarity” in the movements I have been a part of. These tenets arise from years of accumulated shared experiences. Firstly, we are in solidarity with the oppressed, not the oppressor. Secondly, being in solidarity entails being able to take direction from those one claims to be in solidarity with. Learning how to take direction, as to what is it that those we are in solidarity with wish us to do, is a huge aspect of shifting the relationships of power between the oppressed and the oppressor. It is also a way to really come face to face with our own true commitment and power issues.

To do as we wish, is not being in solidarity. It is practicing supremacist charity. I say supremacist, because even when people claim to be in solidarity, they refuse to relinquish their own power and privilege as individuals. They refuse to surrender their own interests. They refuse to recognize that the collective must always be greater than the individual, or we are not in solidarity at all. We are then independent actors who can not accept taking direction for whatever reason.

Please don’t set yourselves apart; link hands with Palestinians and their supporters around the world, including Israeli Jews who want justice for Palestinians and peace for all.

You may be coming to the issue of the liberation of Palestine from the point of view of liberation theology in the following sense:

I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

The trouble with IfNotNow’s reiteration of this idea is that it feeds directly into geopolitical fictions similar to those we are constantly hearing from religious Zionists, both Jews and evangelical Christians:

The Land of Israel is the Jewish national homeland: the history, faith, religion, culture and identity of the Jewish people have always been tied to this land which bears our name, from its ancient name of Judea to its modern name of Israel.

However much my brother and I appreciated your strong and clear condemnation of Israel’s crimes, your emphasis on Judaism (at one point, you changed a song or chant from Jewish liturgy to lamentation and weeping by the Jordan River instead of the Euphrates) made us feel as if we ought to comfort you, rather than the other way around.


Palestinian and righteously angry

Palestinian and righteously angry