Thoughts of a prior Zionist 

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Four people sit in a field of dandelions wearing traditional Palestinian clothing. The third person of the four holds a Palestine flag out to billow in the wind.
For those forced to represent their flag with a fruit.  hosnysalah via Pixabay

To call for a ceasefire is to call for conversation, which you must model 

There are many things I’d like to get across with this piece, but one of the core elements is that justice for Palestinians has never been about Judaism versus Islam.  

I have all of the love in the world for Judaism. I, myself, am an atheist, but as someone devoted to religious studies I have a wealth of knowledge on and respect for the blessings that religions have brought to humanity. This knowledge allowed me to have an incredibly joyful conversation this summer with a Jewish comedian where he spoke on his love for the religion because, from his perspective, it does not demand that people act in a certain way, but rather that it demands people think intentionally about how they act.  

One story this man told me that will never leave my memory is how, in his youth, he spoke with his father about organ donation after death. For a slew of reasons Judaism generally prohibits the donation of organs from a body after a person has died, and he was well aware of this.  

However, Judaism also has two concepts called mitzvah and chesed, which essentially (there is more to this, but the word count of the article prohibits me from including all context) outline that Jewish people should engage in kindness at every opportunity. This is briefly outlined in Leviticus 19:18 as loving “your neighbour as yourself.”  

This man shared with me that he thought of organ donation as a mitzvah, and that he had a conversation with his father when he was a teenager outlining why he thought so. Despite religious prohibitions, his father understood that this person believed it to be a kindness, and agreed to give parental permission to this minor to donate his organs should he die while a minor.  

Even though he may not have personally agreed and may not have done the same, the father understood the kindness intended and wanted to support his child in showing kindness to whoever may benefit from that act.  

I do not see this in Israel’s actions toward Palestinians. What I do see is Israel bombing Palestinian hospitals. What I do see is Jewish people, including the Chairman of the Jewish Network for Palestine, condemning the apartheid state. What I do see is lawyers across the globe rallying to oppose the genocide that is being enacted, alongside millions of people across the globe gathering to protest the violence that has occurred since 1948.  

I also see countless people supporting apartheid and essentially adopting the view of Winston Churchill who supported the genocide of Indigenous peoples across North America, South Africa, and Palestine. I see journalists being targeted and murdered for having the courage to cover the events actually occurring in this space. I see Jewish people in Israel being assaulted by Zionist law enforcement for standing up for their own beliefs and begging for an end to the violence. I see a fascist, nationalist, totalitarian state.  

Now I speak to the allies. If you are genuinely, truly, from your spirit and your soul calling for a ceasefire and peaceful negotiations, you must be calling for a ceasefire in your personal relationships as well.  

You will not always be able to hold your temper. Some will be hell-bent on demonizing the population being occupied and exterminated, making whatever claims they can to support genocide.  

However, you must try with those who will listen with the intention to understand rather than respond. You must try with those who seek to learn rather than blindly promote the propaganda that’s been fed to them. You must try.  

Though now I am an anti-colonial atheist, I was raised as a far right-wing Christian Zionist, and it was through the efforts of others I was able to recognize the inhumanity of that position. 

If you have any kindness in you, call for a ceasefire among those in your social circles and speak to the horrors being committed. 

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