As a Jew of Color with an Israeli passport, I am sounding the alarm to stop the genocide happening right now against the Palestinian people by the Israeli and US militaries.
I write from sunrise here in 広島 Hiroshima, the center of the anti-nuclear movement, where I study Art and Peace. Last night, in the midst of the humanitarian emergency unfolding in Gaza, alongside veteran activists from the anti-war, student, labor, and human rights movements, we held a candlelight vigil for Palestine in front of the 原爆ドム Atomic Bomb Dome. The iconic building in a permanent state of collapse serves as a memorial to the horrors of nuclear war and still stands as a global symbol of peace. Today the Israeli military continued their vicious bombing campaign in Gaza and announced the forced evacuation of 1 million Palestinians – to nowhere. To their death in the streets, in crowded hospitals, or under collapsed buildings.
Speaking before this symbolic structure about my great-grandparents who died in Auschwitz, bombs rained upon ambulances, journalists, the elderly, and small children in Palestine. While I sang Shalom Aleichem, our song to welcome angels of peace into the quietness of Shabbat, explosions obliterated entire neighborhoods and families in Gaza.
Right now, anti-Zionist Jews are desperately demanding, with many other peoples of conscience of the world, an end to the merciless killing of innocent civilians being done in vengeance in the name of Judaism. Many of us have been saying this for years, decades, amidst heavy backlash from our own families, friends, and fellow “progressives.” Statements from organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace and the Jewish Center for Non-Violence are helpful in understanding the bigger picture context. Rabbi Brant Rosen has also written a beautiful piece on this moment. Our communities are horrified and have been extremely traumatized by the violence and rapid escalation of this week’s events. Our friends, families, and colleagues in Palestine are calling and saying goodbye to their loved ones, and are thanking us for our prayers, and wishing for a miracle. We remain steadfast in our shock and mourning to our commitment to the human rights of the Palestinian people who have suffered for 75 years under hellish circumstances – with the complicit support of the American Jewish community, the American government, and US taxpayers.
It took me years of study, hard conversations, and questioning to unlearn this thinking and free myself from it to see the reality of the injustice in Palestine and what life was really like for Palestinian people: 75 years of a brutal military occupation, checkpoints limiting movement and access to education and medical care; repeated school and home demolitions; the uprooting of a million olive trees; cultural erasure and appropriation; forced displacement; the cementing and poisoning of water wells; historical revisionism; 16 years of Gaza as concentration camp; surveillance technology; the murder of journalists, medics, and children; and covert nuclear weapons development – this is NOT the romantic “kibbutznik dream” of previous generations. This is a constructed, racist, settler-colonial colony, an ecological crisis, and a verified Apartheid State.
And as we can see even more clearly now – as if it wasn’t before – this is a genocide.
Call me a self-hating Jew. Tell me I have an identity crisis. My Jewish childhood education in Chicago raised me to be compassionate, human-loving, earth-loving, always in service to others, and always questioning and studying everything. Unfortunately, this also came with a racist, Zionist element that was anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian, and kept us living as Jews in a state of fear of being “wiped off the map” by “terrorists” who wanted to “push Jews into the sea”. This is the mentality that much of the American Jewish community has been coerced to believe, and what the Israeli community deeply clings to. This is a co-option of our pain, anxiety, and fears from centuries of persecution and displacement in service of a US-backed state.
Ashkenazi-centrism has also created a hierarchy of whiteness within our own Jewish communities and the cultural erasure of the mixed multitude of Jews, from all across the SWANA region and beyond into China and India. There are Arab Jews. There are Palestinian Jews. There are Black Jews. There are mixed-race Jews like me who are Filipino and Mexican and Kanaka Maoli and Japanese and Azerbaijani and on and on and on. And as people of multiple identities, we know the pain and suffering of displacement, oppression, racism, and WAR.
People will continue to die until we ALL demand the defunding of the Israeli military, an end to the occupation, the return of Palestinians to their homelands, and dignity for everyone. Listen to Palestinians. Listen to those who brought down Apartheid South Africa. Listen to the children, the cries of so many children and young people. Listen to the former soldiers and the war resisters. This is all just part of the larger scam of war profiteering and the corporate nuclear agenda that is holding us all hostage against each other.
Palestine is everywhere. International solidarity is necessary NOW.
I am guided by the spiritual teachings of my ancestors to know that love will always win, but we have to choose it, and we have to speak it and sing it into reality. It has to be bigger and louder than any weapon. The foundation of what it means to be a Jew is to stand firmly against injustice and always, always fight for a better world. Our survival as Jews doesn’t depend on a State, it depends on our commitment to a new world – where everyone is truly free. And alive.
“One day of insurrection is worth a thousand centuries of normality”
– Wolves of Solidarity, Pacific Column (Greek anarchists)
Quote from Blessed is the Flame: an Introduction to Concentration Camp resistance and Anarcho-nihilism by Serafinski, which you can read here.
Tell Congress: Stop fueling the Gaza genocide. | Adalah Justice Project
Call Now: Stop Genocide Against Palestinians in Gaza | Jewish Voice for Peace
Rebecca Maria Goldschmidt is an artist and cultural worker engaging in place-based art and research projects. Her recent work reflects studies of cultural and land-based practices of her Jewish and Filipino ancestors. She is the co-founder of LAING Hawai’i, a heritage language preservation organization, and Program Director for Queer Mikveh Project. She received her MFA from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in Honolulu in 2020 and is pursuing her doctoral studies as a MEXT Scholar in Sculpture at Hiroshima City University in Japan.