Testimony 4: Anonymous
I spent my gap year in Israel with a progressive Jewish youth movement which was always spoken about so highly while I grew up going to summer camps every year. The movement was centered on Jewish values and they frequently held vibrant conversations about identity – how to be ethical, Jewish, and British. We debated and discussed Zionism but often stayed clear of occupation and the lived experience and history of Palestinians.
When Na’amod set up this testimonial project, initially I felt as though I hadn’t seen explicit anti-Palestinian racism – the issue was more around an absence of Palestinian experiences and voices. But when I thought about it more deeply, a memory came back to me that I found disturbing. One of my closest friends had worn a ‘free Palestine’ t-shirt on our gap year and was ostracised and called a terrorist for it. They had a Palestinian flag and it was stolen and set on fire by another participant. It was such a shocking act, a violent act, to steal another people’s flag and burn it. But nothing was done and it wasn’t treated as a serious issue. We dehumanise Palestinians so much in our community that we see their flag as a threat, and I’ve come to realise that as something deeply racist.
I’m proud of our youth movements, they shaped who I am and I formed close friendships and memories I will always hold dear. But anti-Palestinian racism is a blight within our community and it’s time to speak up. I don’t want my children to grow up in a community where this behaviour is normal and accepted; I don’t want them to look back and feel ashamed as I do.