Jewish Solidarity for the People of Gaza

This is by Daniel Delfs, self-described as an ‘Anti-Zionist Jewish Speech from Edinburgh Rafah Emergency Rally Wednesday 8th of May’. Daniel is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Kehillah group, a Jewish group advocating for Judaism beyond Zionism and functioning on a basis of complete solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

There are no words to be put to the desecration of human life happening right now in Rafah. The words died with every whisper of breath extinguished by bombs, rubble, gunfire in Palestine. I will try to pick the words from between the dust, blood and rubble. 

First come the misery, rage, and despair that I feel when I think that we have let another holocaust happen before the eyes of the world. The wide open eyes of 24 hour news, phone cameras broadcasting mutilation, death and destruction. And yet our governments, our institutions, international courts and bodies have failed Palestinians, failed our humanity. These institutions, meant to represent our interests on the world stage, have left our humanity to be bombed in tents, have left the corpse of our humanity riddled with bullets and to be eaten by stray cats and dogs. It is painful to have to describe in such graphic detail what has been done to the people of Palestine. What is being done to people in Rafah, Gaza, the occupied West Bank, right now as we speak. But that pain is only a fraction of what Palestinians are feeling right now. It is a pain that we need to carry, to hold and allow it to move us to action. It is the only way we can keep our humanity alive. 

There is no space for the level of despair and rage this conflict causes – it bursts through the edges of daily life, it makes it impossible to continue with life as normal. And that’s the way it should be. To ignore what is going on right now is to ignore our own humanity. A humanity that responds to the humanity of others, no matter where they are and who they are. It is an impossible task to look at what has been happening in Gaza head-on, and not be moved to action. It is just as much an action to not respond as it is to respond to the cries of a people being brutally murdered. Silence is a response. Not being at a protest every single time one is able to, with all the energy one can spare, is a response. That is why it is disgusting to think that our politicians are still silent, going no further than calling for a ceasefire. Yes we want a ceasefire, but that is only the beginning. It is estimated it will cost an approximate 40 billion dollars to rebuild Gaza after this most recent conflict, and at least 16 years, an amount that rises with every day that passes, with every life that is extinguished, every home and school and hospital and bakery and supermarket and daycare that is destroyed.

Governments, universities and corporations owe every single pence and more that they’ve made off of weapons manufacturing, off of AI systems, off of the policing and decimation of Palestine and her people, those who live on, those who survive. These institutions’ silence is not passivity. It is murder. It is an act of killing one’s own humanity to ignore what is happening in Palestine, in Congo, in Sudan, in Ukraine. Our governing institutions, from governments to media, want us to be silent, to not be here in protest, in action. These systems are constructed to keep us exhausted and passive, too busy with work, and studying and living our own lives; to numb us to the humanity of those in our own societies and around the world who are exploited and murdered so that the wheels of production keep turning. And yet we must fight that exhaustion, that numbness. It is a personal fight, for Palestine, for the world we live in, for our humanity. 

“I think what I can recognize in this moment, is that it is specifically with my history, as a German Jew, that I can come here and say that we must do everything, possible and impossible, within our power, to throw our bodies against the broken machine we live in, in order to stop this genocide, this holocaust of the Palestinian people.” 

There are those who will question how what is happening in Palestine affects us here in the West. There are people who would be able to tell you the exact financial, structural, political, technological, ecological, sociological ways in which Scotland, and the rest of the world is tied up in what Israel does to the Palestinian people. And yet I will quite simply say that if we give up on Palestine, if we ignore Palestine, we lose our humanity. Those structural issues are incredibly important, as they are the things on the ground we can and need to take direct action against, yet this type of action is no act of charity, it isn’t radical hippies singing about flowers and loving each other. It is a fight against a system built to destroy our humanity. Palestine is at the heart of our collective humanity. 

We have seen people be moved to action in an unprecedented, global wave of direct action. Students and workers, parents, grandparents, and children. They all recognize the only way we honor our own humanity in the face of this genocide is through action. We must be in the streets, we must be loud, we must be enraged and grieving and hopeful all at once, until we see a free Palestine. A ceasefire is only the start. Palestine must be rebuilt, Palestine must be free.

I previously used that word – holocaust – very intentionally. It has been used at times at these protests, and as a Jewish person I have also had moments where its use has made me uncomfortable. This discomfort comes from having grown up in a country where the Holocaust is treated as an untouchable, incomparable piece of history, removed from all other human atrocities, past and future. This historical untouchability comes from an acknowledgment of the centuries of Jewish persecution, an irreducible and unforgettable part of our history. And yet what this treatment of our Jewish history of the holocaust does is de-historicize it. What lessons can be drawn from a historical event that is untouchable? None. Germany is sending its police into the streets of my home city, Berlin, and brutalizing its citizens, Palestinian, Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, German, Jewish, indiscriminately, for daring to point out the genocide executed so systematically that it can only be compared to the holocaust of the Jewish people. We have seen survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants go into the streets calling for an end of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people, specifically based on their own intimate history with it. Will we not listen to these people? What better way can we honor the unspeakable atrocity of the Holocaust then demanding that nothing like it happens ever again? We are seeing it happen in front of our eyes in Gaza, it is happening as we speak. 

I have become frustrated at points, why is my voice worth any more than anyone else’s when discussing this genocide? Why do I as a Jewish person have to speak and affirm that being against genocide is not antisemitism, that criticizing the racist apartheid state of Israel has nothing to do with the religion of its citizens. Anyone with their humanity intact can see what is happening for the atrocity that it is. This is not to say that the citizens of Israel are without humanity. I am instead recognizing the far-reaching, and corrupting nature of the ideology of Zionism, blinding Israelis to their own humanity, to the humanity of Palestinians, blinding people across the world to the humanity of Palestinians, and by extension their own humanity. I think what I can recognize in this moment, is that it is specifically with my history, as a German Jew, that I can come here and say that we must do everything, possible and impossible, within our power, to throw our bodies against the broken machine we live in, in order to stop this genocide, this holocaust of the Palestinian people. 

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. 

Comments (5)

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  1. George Muir says:

    No Zionist is EVER a good Jew.

    1. John Learmonth says:

      So George, what is a ‘good Jew’?.
      One that’s does as he/she is told?
      As for the article to compare the tragic events in Gaza to the Jewish holocaust………has the author any historical knowledge?
      To surmise, according to Hamas 30k people have so far been killed in Gaza over the last 6 months following Hamas attacks on innocent Israeli civilians however do we believe Hamas after all they’re not exactly bi-partisan. How many of those killed were Hamas fighters?
      During the Holocaust roughly 1941-late 1944 50,000 Jews were been killed WEEKLY.
      If the Nazis were attacking Gaza there wouldn’t be a single Palestianian left alive.
      I can’t remember this level of condemnation when US/UK forces were kiling people in Iraq/Afghanistan, mainly innocent civilians and likewise condemnation of Syria/Turkey/Saudi Arabia/Sudan, but hey that’s Muslims killing Muslims so who cares less. Jews defending their right to exist as a free democratic, secular society. How dare they!

  2. jim ferguson says:

    From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

  3. Mike Parr says:

    A very fine article. Respect to the writer. Had the original jewish immigrants to Palestine been a bit more generous, there would now be a thriving country. There ain’t & no prospect of one. Very sad & quite avoidable. One thing for sure, more killing and bombing is not the answer.

  4. Edward Chang says:

    It would take a hard heart indeed not to respond to the sentiments in this article however the historical illiteracy displayed is incredible.I dislike this term a great deal however this young gentleman really does need to educate himself and read several,at least,books.The Holocaust by Martin Gilbert would be a good start.

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