Haaretz reported this week that a boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Germany, the U.S. and Britain set sail on Sunday for Gaza, hoping to breach Israel’s blockade there and deliver aid.
9 Jews will participate in this brave mission: amongst them is Rami Elhanan, an Israeli peace activist whose daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing in 1997. Elhanan rightly maintained that it was his moral duty to act in support of the Palestinians in Gaza because reconciliation was the surest path to peace. “Those 1.5 million people in Gaza are victims exactly as I am,” he said.
Refusnik Israel Air Force pilot Jonathan Shapira, another passenger aboard the ship, told Haaretz that “we hope that the soldiers and officers of the Israeli navy will think twice before they obey orders to stop us.” Shapira also reflected on recent Jewish history: “Let them remember the history of our people, and those who followed orders and later said we were only following orders.”
Elhanan and Shapira make a lot of sense, for they speak in the spirit of humanism and universalism.
However: when it comes to Jewish political activism, there is always one ‘righteous person’ who insists on providing a glimpse into what is still a deeply Judeo-centric agenda.
Richard Kuper, an organizer with the U.K. group, ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’, said “one goal is to show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians.”
Well done Richard. Let me get it right : amongst the Jewish population of 18 million people, worldwide — all you have managed to apparently represent, speak for and collate, is 9 humanist souls who are not happy with Israeli policies.
I suggest to Jews — and humanist Jews in particular — to once and for all, drop the ‘not in my name’ strategy : it is not going to work, and it doesn’t make any sense either. Implementing such a tactic is as racist as the Zionist project, for it affirms the Zionist racial and collective attribution to Jews. It basically says, ‘look at me, I am nice in spite of being a Jew’. This common Jewish left tactic is, unfortunately, not as forceful as Zionism for Zionism is supported by the vast majority of world Jewry institutionally and spiritually.
Also, I would like to advise Mr. Kuper that the goal of a humanitarian mission to Gaza should aim at helping Gazans rather than make Jews look better.
I should be clear here : of course I wish the Jewish boat all success in accomplishing its sacred mission. I certainly go along with Shapira and Elhanan’s call. It is very impressive to see heroic Israelis opposing their criminal government. Shapira and Elhanan are the seed of a future reconciliation. It is also important to see Jews around the world standing up against Israel.
However, if these Jewish activists are true humanists, they had better operate as ordinary people within the emerging solidarity movement. If these Jews are humanists, they had better accept the true meaning of universalism and stop buying into, and retaining aspects of Zionist racist philosophy and perhaps they should consider not solely operating in Jews only political cells.
Gilad Atzmon was born a secular Israeli Jew in Tel Aviv and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music in jerusalem. His service as a paramedic in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon caused him reach the conclusion that “I was part of a colonial state, the result of plundering and ethnic cleansing.” In 1994 Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London, where he attended the University of Essex and earned a Masters degree in Philosophy. He has lived there since, becoming a British citizen in 2002. Atzmon’s novels have been published in 22 languages. His first novel A Guide to the Perplexed, published in 2001, is set in a future where by 2052 Israel has been replaced by a Palestinian state for 40 years.