Where’s the Group for Me?

“I think I need to start a new group,” I wrote on Facebook. “A group for Jews who are committed to Palestine solidarity, and who love Hebrew and Israeli culture. A group that feels connected to the place.”

…Of course there are American Jews who love Israel and Israeli culture but despise the occupation. But they are all too often silent on the deepest, most entrenched parts of Israeli oppression of Palestinians: refugees, the siege on Gaza, systemic inequality within Israel.

…The Palestinian-based groups are naturally not focused on Hebrew and Israeli culture. But neither are the few radical Jewish groups… You won’t hear Israeli music playing at their conventions—from what I’ve heard from those who attend, anyway. And some groups, while signaling that Israel should be a “state of all its citizens,” are not equally committed to Jewish collective equality in that land. Those groups don’t do anything to suggest that the language, culture and traditions of both groups should be nurtured equally.

In the activism for which I yearn, the kind that places human rights front and center, I need to know that there are others, like me, who feel an ache in their heart when they’ve been away from Israel for too long. Who have a favorite Tel Aviv watering hole or two. Who find ways to stream the Hebrew versions of television shows before they come to Netflix. Who dream about the scent of the “refet,” cowshed, puncturing the air of a kibbutz evening.

Mira Sucharov, “I love Israeli and Hebrew culture, and am committed to Palestinian solidarity. Where’s the group for me?” at JTA, May 21, 2021.