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The Carletonian

Complexities of an American Jew’s Perspective on the U.S. Embassy’s Move to Jerusalem

<st off, I want to say that the opinions discussed below are solely my own and may not represent organizations of which I am a part, including:  The Carleton Democratic Socialists (CDSA), If Not Now Carleton (INN) and The Jewish Students of Carleton (JSC).

As I wearily turned off my alarm at 8:30 Monday morning, I was greeted by a New York Times alert: 45 Palestinians dead as embassy ceremony commences. Anger. Dread. I closed the Times app and showered, hoping to temporarily forget about the news I had just read. Later during breakfast, I began scrolling through Facebook where articles and videos documenting the unfolding atrocities and the Embassy ceremony crowded my newsfeed.

More anger, more dread. I switched to Instagram, once again hoping for a moment of respite from the influx of headlines staring me in the face. Instead of photographs of dead protesters, I found myself confronted by picture after picture of former classmates of mine proudly waving Israeli flags  in anticipation for Israeli independence day. These pictures were taken less than 50 miles away from the carnage on the Israeli-Gaza border. Even more anger, even more dread.

See, I am an American Jew, a Jewish day school graduate, an active member in the Jewish community; I, among many, am a Jew caught in the middle of a conflict that forces me into a dual reality of understanding the influence US Jews have on Israeli politics while simultaneously being a foreigner asked to comment on the actions of a country in which I do not live. But foreign does not mean disconnected. Israel is not an abstraction to me; it is a country whose streets I have walked and whose citizens include members of my family. Israel is a knot of troubling history, a bastion of questions on the nature of the oppressed versus the oppressor, an elephant in every political space I enter. Simply put, Israel, The Conflict, and my connection to them, are complex.

Anger. I am angry because I desperately want to believe in the existence of Israel, but find myself pushed away by the decisions of a selfish, oppressive government. I am angry because I am forced to grapple with the fact that many friends and former classmates are complicit in the injustice facing Palestinians. I am angry because I see too many excuses from fellow Jews explaining away Israel’s wrongdoings. I am angry because this conflict is rooted in a deeply entrenched tradition of western imperialism that seems inescapable. I am angry because a thousands-of-years old conflict is reduced to having only one protagonist and only one antagonist, when the reality is more complicated.

I dread each time I see a New York Times alert concerning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because I know I will be asked to speak for every Jewish person. I dread each new story I see because they so often blur the lines between critiquing Israel, outwardly hating Israel and perpetuating anti-Semitism. I dread the labels I receive from both sides after speaking out: accusations of “anti-Semite” or “self-hating Jew” from more conservative Jews when critiquing the country, or accusations of “Zionist terrorist,” or “white oppressor” from fellow-leftists, when I dare offer an ounce of support for a Jewish homeland. I cannot win.

Now what? I have accepted that my views on Israel and on the politics of its existence are not yet one coherent narrative; however, one does not have to be fully assured of their stances in order to condemn the outwardly unjust.
On that note, I condemn the brutal use of force enacted against unarmed protesters. I condemn the silence of the Jewish community on the murders of these Palestinians and on the Occupation. I condemn the Jewish Establishment’s support of the Embassy move. And finally, I condemn the rampant anti-Semitism that sneaks its way into many discussions on these current events.

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