VOICES OF ALLIES
Being an ally to Jews combines heart and mind. It stretches me to be my best and biggest self, to go beyond where my own unhealed hurts and oppression would leave me small and timid.
I was born into and live in a world where Jews are the “other.” In oppressive societies, where there is a “them” and an “us,” “divide and rule” keeps oppression in place. Anti-Semitism is one of these mechanisms. Gentiles worldwide seem to have agreed with our surrounding cultures to practice anti-Semitism. We are taught to hate and blame Jews for the ills in our lives and to betray them time and time again—rather than stand shoulder to shoulder with them against their isolation and their being targeted. Anti-Semitism opens the way for all other oppressions to operate. It has accurately been called “the longest hatred” and “hatred without a cause.”
It is crucial for my humanity and integrity as a Black woman that I face all the places where I am too scared to stand against attacks on Jews, or where I give in to the pull to participate in anti-Semitic actions myself. I cannot be a bystander when Jews are being targeted. This means I need to fully understand the ways that Jews have been and continue to be mistreated. It means that no matter how I am oppressed, I must reach for my biggest self and not compromise my humanity. Being an ally to Jews is, in the end, about my own liberation.
I want all people to join me in ending anti-Semitism. We first need to challenge the oppressions that separate us from each other as Gentiles. I am a person targeted by racism, a Black woman born and raised in a British colony and a Protestant Christian. I must face my fears for my own safety, where my vulnerability to racism keeps me from joining with white people to end anti-Semitism. I have to tackle the racism aimed at me and also build solidarity with, unite with, and work together with white Gentiles.
We allies to Jews must support both Israel and Palestine, while meticulously picking our way through a tangle of rights and wrongs. As someone born and raised in a colony, I must resist seeing Israel as primarily a colonizer, and also resist siding with a Palestinian position that denies Israel’s right to exist. As I support Israel, I must also condemn racism within Israel and the targeting of Palestinians.
Some right-leaning forces use false accusations of anti-Semitism to derail progressive movements, and I must challenge these, too. To successfully challenge anti-Semitism, I have to stretch all of myself.
Jews and Allies United to End Anti-Semitism is about more than ending the oppression of Jews. It is a launching point for making changes and building the just world we long for. It is a launching point for me.
“United” is our key word and our key challenge. This project has deep meaning for all humanity.
I will feel safer in the world, and the world will be safer and more just, when we have eliminated anti-Semitism. I do not want anyone or any group to be targeted by hate or targeted for destruction because of their identity. As an African-heritage woman I have been told lies and fed misinformation about Jews. I did not choose to have this in my mind, but it is there. Ending anti-Semitism means getting to know Jews for myself and not believing what I was told about them. I can deepen my relationships with the Jews I already know and can put myself out to learn about the history and experiences of the Jewish people. Ending anti-Semitism means I can’t wait for someone else to end it—I am the “someone else” who can stand up against, interrupt, challenge, and end anti-Semitism.
This work gives me, a white Protestant ally, access to parts of myself that I didn’t even realize were limited. I’m gaining a much better understanding of the extent to which I have been conditioned to blame myself and others, and how blame is a distraction that keeps us from exercising our authentic power. Ending blame is key to ending the mechanism of anti-Semitism and addressing the true source of economic injustice and inequality.
Western Massachusetts, USA
My German-American Catholic family were good people—who at the same time benefited directly from anti-Semitism. The oppression that we acted out at Jews was also acted out within our family. I have long wanted a way to end the divisions and confusion that anti-Semitism inflicted on my family and on our society. Therefore, for me, working with Jews and Allies United to End Anti-Semitism is a precious opportunity. I can build deep connections and work closely with Jews. Together we can build a movement and end this historic genocide and ongoing oppression, as well as heal our own harshest and deepest hurts as allies.
Oakland, California, USA
I have worked to be a visible, active, knowledgeable, caring ally to Jews since the early 1980s. As an African-heritage woman, I find this project to be a perfect vehicle for continuing this work. I am pleased that the project is so public. I believe Jewish liberation is key to the liberation of all oppressed people.
Milwaukie, Oregon, USA
Being a part of the Jews and Allies United to End Anti-Semitism project is central to my life. It is a gift to work together with Jews and other allies to bring an end to anti-Jewish oppression. It is a direct way to face my horror at the genocide inflicted on Jews by my German Gentile people—my father immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1923. I can deal directly with my feelings of guilt and shame and act to prevent the Holocaust from happening again.
Frostburg, Maryland, USA