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Testimony 16: Anne

Hi, my name is Dr Anne Caldwell and I was raised as a Reform Jew in Southern California – not far from where Louis Theroux would film his documentary on white nationalism in the States. Much of my Jewish identity came from my Bubbie, my Yiddish grandmother. She was active in civil rights and in her synagogue, and also was the president of her local Hadassah chapter. Her influence on my Jewishness was so great, that when she died in 2009, the only thing I asked for was her Shabbat candle holder. 

However, one interaction with her impacted my Jewishness more than any other. When I was very young, I asked my Bubbie, what about the Palestinians – if they can’t live in Israel, where can they live?

Her response was that they were Arabs, so could go live in another Arab state. Jews needed a homeland.

Her dismissal was not just of Palestinian human rights, it was a dismissal of their identity, their connection to the land, and their very humanity. And it was contrary to everything she’d taught me being a Jew was. As a Reform Jew, tikkun olam, the repair of the world, was central to my Jewishnes. Her response left me wondering: how can we fulfill tikkun olam if we don’t respect the rights and humanity of Palestinians?