I posted this at Znet on October 5th, 2011 with the aim of gathering people to join 'Occupy Toronto' as the world was taking note of the (somewhat surprising) success of Occupy Wall Street. I had been living in New York City for a number of years, organizing on these issues and taking part in some of the precursors to OWS. By September of that year I was staying in Toronto as I was getting ready to move to Tel Aviv.
I recently stumbled upon this post again. Though our movements look different today, most of the below is still important as we move forward.
I have to begin this piece with an explanation: I have been politically active for most of my life. I have always believed that radical change is possible and within our reach. Unfortunately, in recent years I have had to contend with an inner cynicism, but as I look around at what's happening right now that cynicism is dying.
I know that there are plenty of people reading this who dream of a better world, but just don't think that reality can catch up to our dreams. I know that feeling. I know now that Cynicism is not truth. Sometimes cynicism can protect us from taking dangerous leaps forward, but it is not truth. Cynicism is easy, and that's what attracts us. The path that we are on is a hard one, but it is not impossible. It is that knowledge that can carry us forward.
This year we have seen freedom struggles in every corner of the world. The fight has been brewing all along, but there is a new spark right now. There is a real fight going on. Fighting against dictators and fighting for jobs. Fighting to end racist policies and fighting to ensure that every person is healthy and able to reach his or her full potential.
(Continued below the gallery)
This also appears at Jewschool.com
What’s this all about? Kvutzat Orev is a group of 6 people who built a communal Jewish life, rooted in Hashomer Hatzair, together in Israel and Brooklyn over 5 years. For the last 3 years we have been exploring different paths. Some in Israel and some in Brooklyn. During a group seminar last Spring we decided to start building a new, Jewish, and public Pesach (Passover) ritual. We have been meeting digitally every few weeks, researching our history and tradition, and developing a common language around goals and values.
What follows, a version of the 4 glasses of wine that we drink throughout the Pesach Seder, is an amalgam of the values we set out to embody and some ideas for the rituals that may work with those values. Our process is continuing as we look for questions that need answering through collective culture and build a renewed way of understanding ourselves our people and our role in the world.
Collective Belonging - Birth
Eyes open to our role in the world as a collective force. We touch the freedom of self-determination in its infant and infinite forms. We seek family and we transmit culture from person to person and generation to generation. We are born into identity as we realize our lives are tied to the people and things around us. We engage in argument for the sake of heaven and we follow a path of learning and growth in Chevruta. We pray, eat, celebrate, question constantly and grow with others and when we touch self-determination we touch equality and oneness; the connected nature of the universe as the root idea in monotheism in Judaism.
This piece was originally published at +972 Magazine.
The way the world is talking about the Israeli occupation is changing. Alongside that change, opportunity is knocking for those of us standing in opposition: calls for diaspora Jews to be present on the ground in Israel and Palestine are increasing. An important shift is beginning to take place — right now.
The writing is on the wall. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, U.S. President Obama and his staff have been speaking differently about the once-incontrovertible two-state solution. One campus Hillel changed its name instead of changing it’s programming to adhere to Hillel International’s rules. If Not Now stormed onto the scene last summer in response to the violence in Gaza. Boycotts and BDS campaigns are sprouting up on campuses and at supermarkets all over the world.
This post originally appeared at Jewschool.com
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's extra dose of racism in this election will most likely translate into street violence and worse for Palestinian Citizens of Israel, other minority groups in Israel, Palestinians under occupation and Leftists.
When the man, referred to by his followers as "Bibi, King of Israel" makes racism the norm you can bet it will flow into every corner of the country and it's occupied territories.
When the final campaign effort is a reaffirmation of eternal occupation you can bet that hope for self-determination will be lost for millions.
When last summer's bloody 'operation' in Gaza gave way to street violence by “Kahanist” thugs, you can bet the collectively-expected next 'war' will lead to much, much worse.
When the ruling party oversees the massive growth of inequality and more than 2 million live below the poverty line, and still they are thrust to victory, you can bet that life will get harder and harder.
The only way forward is to build our movement to be courageous in its vision for ending the occupation, building equality and peace, and seeking justice, and to establish, here and now, that the above is necessary for the prosperity we all seek.
This movement has to be strong enough to withstand the attacks ahead, both physical and political. We must move forward with foresight and develop a strategy, and it has to (re)start today.
This article was translated from English to Hebrew and published at "Local Call/שיחה מקומית". The original English version was published at +972 Magazine.
הייתי שמח להצביע למפלגה שאני מאמין בה. אבל אם אני, שהגעתי לארץ רק לאחרונה, יכול להצביע, בעוד שמיליוני פלסטינים שנולדו כאן לא יכולים, אז יש בעיה בדמוקרטיה הזאת. לכן אני צריך לתרום את קולי למי שצריך אותו
כותב אורח: ע. דניאל רוט
מיליוני אנשים ילכו לקלפיות ב-17 במרץ כדי להחליט מי ייצג אותם בכנסת הבאה. מיליונים אחרים לא יוכלו לעשות זאת. מתוכם, כ-4.5 מיליון פלסטינים חיים תחת כיבוש ותחת מצור בגדה המערבית, מזרח ירושלים ורצועת עזה. למיליונים האלה אין שום זכות להצביע לממשלה שמכריעה את גורלם בפועל.
העובדה שמיליוני אנשים חיים תחת שליטה ישראלית ללא כל ייצוג פוליטי בה וללא זכויות אזרח בסיסיות היא עלבון לעצם הטענה שיש כאן דמוקרטיה. לכן אני עומד "לתת" את הקול שלי בבחירות הקרובות (הראשונות בהן אשתתף אי פעם) לאדם אחר, שחי תחת המשטר הצבאי. אני אפנה לחבר שחי בשטחים הכבושים, אשאל במי הוא תומך בבחירות האלה, ואצביע בהתאם לבקשתו.
This was originally published at +972 Magazine. It was also translated into Hebrew and published at "Local Call/שיחה מקומית".
Millions of people will go to the polls on March 17th to decide who will represent them in the next Knesset. Millions more are not able to. Among them are approximately 4.5 million Palestinians who live under occupation and siege in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Those millions of people do not have the right to vote for the government that, at the end of the day, decides their fates.
The fact that millions of people live under Israeli rule without representation or basic civil rights is an affront to the very idea of democracy. That’s why I am going to “give” my vote in the upcoming election (the first in which I am eligible to vote) to someone living under occupation. I will consult with, and observe the wishes of, a friend living in occupied territory.
To call a state a democracy requires that the people choose their political representation and that the state protects a set of rights that everyone has access to. There are many frightening things about the so-called “Jewish Nation-State law”, which puts Israel’s Jewish character out in front of democracy by a long shot and we very well may see this bill become law. So far, the bill was already approved by the cabinet in a vote of 14-7, and was set to hit the Knesset floor this Week, but Prime Minister Netanyahu has postponed it until next week.
The bill, which is meant to become a Basic Law (the closest thing Israel has to a constitution), is scary because it emphasizes Jewish privilege under the law in Israel, for example pushing Jewish law into the secular court system and demoting Arabic from one of two official languages down to merely being the mother tongue of 20% of the population and the regional language.
If we are killed, be it terrorism or just murder; If we are stabbed, bombed, run over, or burned to the ground where we stand; If we are cut down one of these days or all of them; If we are the victims of a person or a system
If then our ashes are turned into ammo,
That would be terror.
This piece also appears here.
This piece originally appeared in Jewish Currents Magazine.
WHEN I MOVED TO ISRAEL THREE YEARS AGO, one of the questions asked of me was “What kind of Jew are you?” My answer was “Shomer” — that is, a member of Hashomer Hatzair, the Socialist-Zionist movement.
A few bureaucrats along the way tried to get me to change my answer to Reform or secular or unaffiliated, but I pushed back. I grew up in the community spaces of Hashomer Hatzair. My heroes were the people who fought back during the Shoah — many of them members of the movement, such as Abba Kovner and Mordecai Anielewicz — as well as “our” thinkers, such as Martin Buber. Growing up in the Socialist-Zionist movement as a member of Hashomer Hatzair in North America, I was exposed to education about Zionism, Israel, oppression, justice, and identity.
This education was far less focused than it once was on aliyah (moving to Israel) to build a kibbutz. Instead, the focus was on developing critical thinking through the lens of a leftist Zionism among youth who had a sense justice and of Jewish identity. Yet many of the historical ideologies and identities at the core of our history were very much in the background, quietly guiding the education in which we took part.
Word is that SodaStream is packing up their factory in the occupied territory and heading to the Negev desert in Israel. A piece at ShalomLife.com takes aim at the BDS movement, which took aim at SodaStream this year, imagining what might happen if SodaStream packs up and leaves behind the hundreds of Palestinian workers who make a living at the factory. The article, of course, has a disclaimer at the bottom, presumably tacked on after a large number of comments pointed out that this particular piece of Hasbara (“advocacy” in Hebrew) had jumped the gun, given that the the official announcement is yet to be made and there is no word as to what SodaStream will do regarding their Palestinian workforce. It is actually rather funny to have an entire article dedicated to an imaginary scenario, which then is noted as imaginary in a disclaimer at the end.
Here it is:
Sometimes I feel like there are all these peace agreements for sale and no one’s buying. We’ve got two states, one state, unions, federations, long term, short term and more. Get ‘em while their hot! Bibi’s not buying and Hamas sure ain’t interested. Abbas is like a man at a mall minutes before closing with credit card in hand – no idea which product can fit in his station wagon; the proprietor eyeing him to leave. People keep asking what the alternative is to violence, “we have to kill and die, there’s no other choice!” Humanity knows when that is the case and when it sure isn’t. Those filled with love and pain – commitment to their people and in solidarity with all other peoples – tend to reluctantly make it clear that it may be a time when fighting may be necessary.
This is the second part of a 2 part letter. The first part can be found here.
A few days ago I wrote to a friend that it feels, the world over, that we are seeing a dark cloud and some are looking for a fight with some “other” as a response to that. I doubt that there is some definable good and evil in reality, but if there is it is most likely a divide between those looking for violence and those looking for peace. The problem with that theory is that the truth is that there is no such thing as violent “thugs”; there is only us.
Life would be much easier if we were fine with the world as it is. We could be firmly focused on taking of only ourselves? After all taking care of only one’s self is built into the ideology of the current power structures – and a core component of the pain inflicted on us by capitalism, racism, and supremacist ideologies.
Much of this is taken from an email to a good friend. This is the first part of a 2 part letter. The second part can be found here.
I am glad that you got this conversation started. I need to be thinking this way about making a positive impact on the world as humans and as Jews. I have been working hard lately, getting the next round of “Achvat Amim” participants ready, and covering the situation from the border areas with Gaza, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv. I’m sorry it took me this long to write back. I’ve been learning an enormous amount about me and about the media. Writing and sitting in the studio gives you a chance to go through an analytical process, not a complete one – TV may not be built for thorough analysis at all – but something. Being in the field involves a lot more communication about what you see around you, what others say around you, and how it feels. It’s a strange and interesting world. The other day, I was walking to work and cool breeze, unusual for July, was blowing in from the West. It reminded me that I needed to write you back and it reminded me of all the pain and progress over where you are and the overbearing feeling of chaos over here.
This originally appeared at Jewschool
Currently, Israel is engaged in a Gaza-Southern Israel back and forth of rockets and airstrikes. A teen was killed in a Golan Heights explosion originating from Syria and Israeli Forces are responding with fire on pro-Assad fighters.
Israel still hasn't found the 3 teenagers who are presumed kidnapped since they went missing on June 12th (though they have found other young people). Neither has anyone presented any evidence that it was, in fact, Hamas as the government claims.
This article was originally published in +972 Magazine.
Both BDS supporters and detractors are touting the Presbyterian Church’s divestment vote as a BDS victory. But regardless, isn’t it a step in the direction every anti-occupation person ought to be rooting for?
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA) narrowly (310 to 303) voted late last week to divest some $21 million from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola for profiting by selling goods which are used in the administration of the occupation and the destruction of Palestinian homes and property.
The full text of the divestment resolution can be read here.
Strangely enough, or perhaps quite expectedly, both BDS activists and anti-BDS activists are touting this as a victory for the global boycott movement. The former are doing so with glee, saying that the Presbyterian divestment is a step in the right direction. The latter are shaking their fists with anger saying that people will see this as a BDS victory.
This article originally appeared in The Forward.
Since the kidnapping of three Israeli teens last Thursday, the Israeli media has been engaged in a full court press to fill in the blanks and tell a compelling story — whether or not it’s true.
Today, I came across a Facebook post from Mohammad AlQadi, a Palestinian student and activist living in Lyon, France. His picture had been posted (without permission) to an article in Walla, a major online news source for Israelis. The article reports on a campaign to support the kidnappers by holding up three fingers as if to gloat that three Israelis have been abducted.
According to AlQadi, the photo of him with three fingers up was taken last year. The three fingers that he was holding up were related to last year’s Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, a Palestinian singer born in Gaza. The three-finger salute in that context refers to the campaign to vote for Assaf on the show by choosing option 3.
This piece originally appeared here.
It’s worth repeating that we should all be working and/or (at the very least) hoping for the safe return of three teenagers who were kidnapped days ago in the occupied territories. Now the question has been asked: Is it insensitive to talk about building a just peace based on self-determination for all peoples right now?
It is insensitive to all of the past, present, and future victims of aggression here to avoid talking about the context of this kidnapping as well as the ensuing rise in violence. It is insensitive to steer clear of the conversation on how to stop violence and end the occupation. It is insensitive at a time like this – while saying loud and clear that those three students must be returned safe, sound, and soon – to pretend that all of this is happening in a vacuum, because that is a game that leads to more hate and violence.
As some steer clear of talk about the broader context, crass politicians like the Prime Minister dictate the dominant discourse. His story is focused on blaming instead of searching, and that is somehow acceptable, while looking for real answers is not? As he works to deepen divides, criticism is aimed at those working toward critical understanding of the situation, and perhaps a just peace. It matters that there is an occupation and that in the West Bank one set of people are protected by democratic rights while another lives under martial law with barriers, checkpoints, and soldiers running their lives, and no, acknowledging that fact does not make you somehow care less about the safe return of those kidnapped teenagers.
Nothing justifies the kidnapping of these three teenagers - proponents of a just and peaceful future must actively condemn it and other acts of violence - and it takes a lot to feel pain here and now, while striving to look forward. I have no doubt that we (humans) have that capacity. As well, there is something important in the moment(s) of just feeling and certainly some need just that. However, we should be calling for an end to the occupation in the times when Israelis have forgotten that it exists and in the times when it is hard to hear. Here's the thing about calling for real and fundamental change: We have to be for it all the time. If we avoid the discussion about the roots of violence right now, we are being insensitive to the future victims of today’s violence.
This article is up at Jewschool.com
A group of young, Jewish, Toronto-based leaders who are active in building dynamic Jewish programming for young adults expected to get support from Moishe House for the work they do, but were surprised instead when they were turned down to be Toronto’s first Moishe House.
The Toronto folks are looking to inspire more people to speak out and convince Moishe House to help them organize for the Toronto community, which was home to nearly 200,000 Jews as of 2011.
Here’s their letter:
This was originally published in +972 Magazine
Just like you, I argue about how many states is the right number of states between the river and the sea. I, like you, argue about the most appropriate word for describing inequality here. I, too, argue with friends and passersby about the merits and shortcomings of boycotting and BDS. You, like me, have a vision for what the fix should look like here and you are pushing for it. You, like me, are organizing your campus, workplace and community around an idea of what real justice looks like.
Maybe you’re happy or nervous about the end of the Kerry talks. Maybe you’re excited or scared about the prospects of Fatah-Hamas unity. You are most likely a two-stater or a one-stater or an anarchist or a progressive Zionist or a socialist or a liberal or a solidarity activist or something of the sort. But despite your many, many differences, all of you agree that human equality is vital, and that the occupation – millions living without basic rights – is a clear, present and systemic affront to that value.
Often we look more like the “splitters” in “Life of Brian” than we do thoughtful agents of change aiming to win. There are a great many organizations playing important roles, but not enough see themselves as partners, despite our many disagreements in a movement for equality.
This piece originally appeared at JewSchool.com
Not too long ago, members of All That’s Left (ATL) wrote about “Who We Are” despite the fact that we decided early on that we were interested in defining ATL’s aims not who ought to be in it. It reads:
All That's Left members come from a variety of political, ideological and personal backgrounds, including non-Zionists, Liberal-Zionists, Anti-Zionists, Socialist-Zionists, Zionists, Post-Zionists, one, two, some, and no staters and everything in between. The common thread in our work, actions, and connections is our unequivocal opposition to the occupation and our focus on the diaspora angle of resistance to the occupation rooted in the notion that all people(s) are equal.
We wrote the note in order to clarify that the collective is made up of folks from a spectrum of backgrounds who are working to end the occupation. In the end, the “Who We Are” note essentially says: “We aren’t defining who we are.” Instead, we define ATL in a sentence (All That’s Left is a collective unequivocally opposed to the occupation and committed to building the diaspora angle of resistance) in order to create a way for people to self select.
It's important to note that ATL is not an organization; it is a collective of individuals that come together around our unequivocal opposition to the occupation and focus on building the diaspora angle of resistance. That's the only statement we have or will make as a collective. All of the actions we do are actions that members of ATL have done, not an ATL organization (no such organization exists). It is an important distinction to make here because I am only really speaking for myself as a member of ATL. I am in no way a spokesperson or official rep.