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Occupation and apartheid are a moral crisis

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza and the crimes of apartheid committed throughout the territory under Israel’s control constitute a system of violence and discrimination that infringes upon Palestinians’ freedom, dignity and human rights.

For generations of Palestinians this has meant a life of injustice, humiliation and fear. For Israelis it has meant an insecure existence that relies on the oppression of Palestinians.

Occupation and apartheid are not just immoral and illegal, but are an affront to fundamental Jewish values of equality and human dignity. No Palestinian or Israeli deserves the status quo, yet it will continue and worsen until these unjust systems are brought to an end.

We have a responsibility to take action

We care deeply about what happens in the region – many of us have spent time there and have deep bonds of friendship and family ties with Israelis and Palestinians. Our power to change things, however, lies here in the UK. 

Although the occupation is increasingly acknowledged and discussed in a range of UK Jewish contexts, the majority of Jews in the UK are still to join the struggle for full equality and justice for all. Our Jewish communal institutions have perpetuated the moral crisis of occupation and apartheid by supporting those that enforce it. This happens directly and indirectly, through distorted words as well as deceptive silences, by inaction no less than action.

Meanwhile, both British Jewish communal organisations and Israeli governments continue to instrumentalise Jews in the UK to shield Israel from criticism.

Our struggles are intertwined

Jews in the UK lack the vibrant coalitions with other minoritised groups that can allow us to fight together for our collective liberation. We have become divided from other struggles by the idea that Jewish safety is only possible whilst Palestinians are oppressed.

Na’amod rejects this idea. We are a movement of Jews in the UK who recognise that our liberation is bound up with the liberation of others, rather than in competition. We do not need to oppress others to feel safe, and work to build bridges and stand in solidarity against all systems of racism and discrimination.

Now is the time to take a stand

We have collectively lost sight of the values that underpin our faith and our identity. Jews in the UK must embrace our rich moral tradition of tzedek u’mishpat (righteousness and justice) to avert this crisis and restore the moral foundations of our community.

We are inspired by this tradition and the principles that shape it, as reflected in the Talmud (Shabbat 54b): ‘Whoever can protest against members of their household and does not, is accountable [for the sins] of their household; if they can protest against their townspeople, they are accountable for their sins; if they could protest to the whole world, they are accountable for the whole world.’

We must now come together and take the courageous action needed to bring UK Jewish support for the occupation and apartheid to an end. Our community should stand for dignity, freedom and democracy for all.