We are in the midst of a surge of genocidal violence in Gaza. American Jews cannot stand by and allow these horrors to be committed in our name. Together, we must all demand from our leaders in the U.S. government a deescalation of the violence in Gaza and Israel, not a blank check for weapons which kill and injure multitudes while sowing seeds of continued conflict.

Israel Palestinians

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on Wednesday. Francisco Seco/Associated Press

We are both proud to be members of the Democratic Socialists of America, a radical, anti-capitalist, anti-racist organization of tens of thousands of volunteers across the country. We do not aim to represent the views of our local chapter. We write as two American Jews who live in Portland, who graduated from the Portland Public Schools and who grew up in Southern Maine’s Jewish community. Our Jewish community, like countless others across the country, is unapologetically Zionist and pro-Israel. In our religious practice and our Jewish education we were fed a history and idea of Israel in which there are no Arabs, no Palestinians, no racism, no ethno-nationalism, no ethnic cleansing of Mandatory Palestine.

We condemn absolutely the murder of civilians perpetrated by Hamas as well as the continued murder and violence of the genocidal project of occupation, blockade and apartheid enforced through collective punishment and ongoing abuse of human rights by Israeli forces with the support of the U.S. government against the people of Palestine.

At the time of writing, more than 4,500 people in Israel and Palestine have been killed in the recent violence. Thousands more have been injured. By the time you read this, those numbers will have increased. The dead and dying are on both sides of the green line, the border that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip.

But those in Gaza are under blockade, with no fuel or electricity and almost no food and water. Hospitals and schools have become morgues. The U.S. is chartering planes out of Israel to allow the thousands of Americans and dual citizens of Israel to flee, while hundreds of Americans trapped in Gaza have begged the U.S. embassy to help them get out.

And what about the 2 million Gazans who did not choose where they were born? They did not choose to be citizens of an occupied territory, of an open-air prison, of a war zone, of a people who everyday are facing collective punishment, psychological warfare and physical violence.


It is not anti-Semitism to oppose the occupation, nor is it self-hatred for Jews to stand up against atrocities done in our name. We take this stand as humans, as socialists and as two people whose moral compass – and whose Jewish upbringing and culture – instilled in us humanity and compassion for those different from us, for those who are ostracized, for those who are oppressed.

It is absolutely essential that we use our voice to oppose real anti-Jewish sentiment and rhetoric in our movement; there can be no room for people who support Palestinian liberation as a cover for their belief in the extermination of Jewish people.

Entrenched systems of violence and oppression will continue to breed oppression – the liberation of the Jewish people is tied to the liberation of Palestinians. The historic and generational trauma of Jews will never heal by oppressing another people. The weaponization of our grief and the collective punishment of Palestinians will never make us safe. We, of all people, should know that our liberation will never be true liberation while people remain oppressed on earth, and especially while Palestinians are oppressed in the name of Jewish liberation, Jewish safety and a Jewish state. Peace, safety and joy for some can never come at the cost of misery, oppression and murder of others.

There is a long road ahead toward the goal of ending the occupation and realizing a just and safe world for Palestinians, for Jewish people and for oppressed people across this world.

Today, we start by calling on you, our neighbors, our families, our community members and our elected officials. Will you demand deescalation from the U.S. government, will you demand an immediate ceasefire, will you demand an end to the occupation and an end to an apartheid state? The whole world is watching.

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