When Jonathan Ofir heard the Western-led chorus of vehement condemnations of the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, coupled with a barrage of statements endorsing the country’s right to retaliate, he feared knowing what it meant.
“This is a green light for Israel to carry out a much larger massacre than the one they wanted to avenge,” said the Jewish musician, conductor and writer.
The Hamas attack killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, prompting the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare war on the Palestinian armed group. A relentless and brutal Israeli bombardment has since killed more than 5,100 people in the Gaza Strip and reduced large swaths of the territory to rubble in just over two weeks. A Palestinian NGO reported that the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip has tragically claimed the life of a Palestinian child every 15 minutes since the conflict began.
Ofir, a pro-Palestinian activist who was born in Israel but lives in the Danish capital Copenhagen, is among many Europe-based Jews who criticize Israel’s policies and have joined protests taking place across the continent against the ongoing attacks on Gaza have broken out.
From Glasgow to London, from Paris to Barcelona, many pro-Palestinian rallies have joined to express their solidarity with the people in the blockaded enclave. They represent a vocal minority of Jews who continue to stand up, as they have for decades, for the rights of a people who have lived under Israeli occupation for generations – the Palestinians.
“Israel claims Jews as its national asset and arms us as Jews – both as bodies in the demographic struggle against non-Jews and especially Palestinians, and ideologically as born representatives of the Jewish state – [and] is trying to do this to Jews worldwide,” Ofir told Al Jazeera. “This claim in turn makes [us] the human shields of the state as it attacks Palestinians as part of its settler-colonialist agenda, whether through ongoing ethnic cleansing, through sieges or through seasonal massacres.”
Naama Farjoun grew up mostly in Jerusalem, but has long described herself as an anti-Zionist Jew. She left Israel in January 2001, just months after the outbreak of the second intifada. Today the 54-year-old lives on the outskirts of Valencia, Spain.
“I left [Israel] because I couldn’t bear the burden of being a privileged person [Israeli] “A citizen in a racist state,” said the mother of two, who said she was angry daily about the “Israeli occupation and discrimination against my fellow Palestinians.”
Farjoun told Al Jazeera that Hamas’ attack on Israel caused it “great suffering… and suffering that no one should have to endure.” But she added: “I believe that the current tragic events are a direct result of years of abuse, oppression, violence and deprivation by the State of Israel.”
The fact that Jews – including Israeli Jews – condemn Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinians is not a new phenomenon. So-called Israeli objectors – citizens of Israel who have ignored conscription laws to protest the country’s treatment of Palestinians – have often been imprisoned for their principles.
Joseph Abileah, an Austrian-born musician, is widely considered to be the first person in Israel to stand trial for refusing to serve in the Israeli military, just months after the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. The violinist succeeded The escape He was sentenced to prison and his attitude paved the way for generations of Israeli conscientious objectors.
But just as Israel objectors often face backlash for their beliefs, so too do pro-Palestinian Jews elsewhere.
It is rarely easy, said one European, to publicly support Palestine and condemn Israel as a self-proclaimed Jew.
“When I first started identifying as a Jew and supporting Palestinian rights, X [formerly Twitter]“The issue in the UK was closely linked to Corbyn’s leadership of the Labor Party,” said British citizen Tom London, referring to former British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s strong pro-Palestinian beliefs.
He added to Al Jazeera: “Someone once went through every tweet I’ve ever sent – but found nothing to support their vile and ridiculous claim that I was an anti-Semite.”
At the time of writing, a Jewish Voice for Peace petition calling for an immediate end to Israel’s attack on Gaza has collected more than 1,300 signatures from Israeli citizens living in Israel, Palestine and abroad. “As a Jew, and especially as an Israeli Jew, I feel that it is my duty to say that this is not happening in my name and I will fight it as such,” Ofir stated. “Because freedom, justice and equality are a necessity for the Palestinians, and if this necessity is not enough, it will not only harm them but will also haunt the Jews.”
“We must … work toward a shared future in which we do not harm each other – we must create a culture of peace. “Jewish supremacy will not achieve that.”
Source : www.aljazeera.com