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Testimony 9: Anonymous

I grew up in the North West London Jewish community and then went to Bristol university, where there was a relatively large Jewish student  population. Although I was not as involved with the Jewish community after moving to Bristol, I still felt very much represented by it. So when I heard about an incident of anti-Palestinian racism taking place at my university, which involved members of the Jewish student population, I felt angered at the injustice and ashamed of the actions of my community.

The university’s Friends of Palestine / PalSoc (Palestine Society) was holding a peaceful protest condemning the invitation of a high profile Israeli diplomat to speak at the university. The diplomat was someone who publicly endorsed the occupation and breaking of international/human rights laws. Protesters were marching together through the streets, when some boys stormed the peaceful protest, sporting large Israeli flags as they frantically ran through the crowds of protestors. What was intended as a peaceful march to promote solidarity and Palestinian human rights had turned into a toxic environment of hatred.

I had known some of those boys personally from when I grew up in North-West London. And so when I heard what had happened, I didn’t just feel saddened by the act of anti-Palestinian racism that took place that day, but additionally felt a deep sense of embarrassment. I felt as though my values and those of my community had been totally misrepresented by this incident.

The following weeks were hard. It was not made easier when I found myself being interrogated by non-Jewish friends who assumed that I shared similar views with those boys. But the most difficult part was seeing anti-Palestinian racism present in Bristol and knowing that it was perpetrated by people who claimed to share the same Jewish values as me.