By: Elishama Marmon  | 

The Problem of the ‘As a Jew’

When I speak to my fellow Jews (™), I begin every conversation with the traditional phrase: “As a Jew, how are you doing today?” “As a Jew, I’m doing well,” the reply might go. A follow-up: “As a Jew, what are your thoughts on pizza?” “As a Jew, I need to deny, explain away, and obfuscate the slaughter of over a thousand Jews in order to make a political point that I do not understand. Genocide?” “Genocide. As a Jew.” Such conversations happen often.

Of course, no one who is secure in their Judaism or their opinion has ever actually spoken like that. And yet I see statements beginning with that formulation regularly, invariably followed by something that undermines one of the premises of Judaism.

Every now and then, I come across something that I just have to write something about. Such is the case with “Safety is Not Transactional,” a statement and petition published by JOOT (Judaism on Our Own Terms). JOOT, formerly Open Hillel, began with the stated goal of resisting the Zionist stance of Hillel, promoting “open discourse on Israel-Palestine.” In fact, it is a rabidly anti-Zionist organization. 

Anti-Zionist Jews who seem incapable of realizing that their new allies who call for their murder and deny the Holocaust are a dime a dozen. Its signatories include such groups as National Jewish Voice for Peace, a chapter of IfNotNow, and National Students for Justice in Palestine (or “SJP,” who aren’t Jewish, but are one of the “Non-Jewish Endorsements”), as well as many faculty members from major universities.

The statement manages to avoid all mention of October 7th or what prompted the current war and all mention of Hamas, the terrorist organization Israel is currently fighting. 

Instead, it cites “the end of the ceasefire on December 1st,” not bothering to ask who agreed to that ceasefire (Israel), who broke it (Hamas), or who has blocked ceasefire offers since then (Hamas). It emphasizes the deaths of 20,000 Palestinians, again failing to note that surely at least some of them were members of Hamas and the rest were being used as human shields for Hamas terrorists, rockets and weaponry. 

They claim that police presence at their protests makes them feel endangered. Given that the police are there to ensure that violence doesn’t spread, this feeling may be very telling. Jews who screamed their anti-Zionist bona fides slightly less loudly would be grateful indeed for police to protect them from their “allies.”

For example, pro-Israel Jewish protestor Paul Kessler was killed by an anti-Zionist protestor with a megaphone in early November. The statement further denies the spike in antisemitism that has occurred on campuses, much as the fish denies the water it swims in. They encourage ceasing “reliance on state policing to combat antisemitism” in favor of “exploring new ways to practice communal safety centering the needs and experiences of Black Jews and other Jews of Color.”

In short, the group that put together this statement has an overtly political set of goals that have no relationship to Zionism, Palestinians or, most obviously, Judaism. 

There is nothing wrong with having political goals, but these organizations, claiming to stand for “Jewish Safety,” have chosen to align “as a Jew” with a group  — SJP — which posted a picture advertising a “Day of Resistance” with a picture of a paraglider on it — meant, of course, to be reminiscent of the terrorists who dropped in by paraglider to massacre innocent people at a music festival in Israel. Not only that, but they profess the exact same views. 

Between accusing Israel of “state-sanctioned violence” and genocide and denying antisemitism on campus, they cannot resist falling all the way down the hole of antisemitism.

The subsidiaries of SJP “stand wholly behind the resistance” (posted on Oct. 9 while the blood of those massacred had barely cooled), find the attack of Oct. 7 “justifiably prompted” (also posted Oct. 9), and proclaim “Glory to Our Martyrs.”

There is nothing Jewish about supporting the slaughter of innocents or glorifying and celebrating those who carry it out. There is nothing Jewish about reveling in the deaths of Jews and non-Jews at the hands of terrorists. There is nothing Jewish about going to Congress to attack Israel and the Jewish people. There is nothing Jewish about supporting terrorism.

No legitimacy should be given to those people who proclaim their Judaism when it suits their interests, wear prayer shawls performatively to emphasize their Judaism and seem incapable of having any sympathy for innocent Jewish lives that were lost to terrorism. As a Jew — one whose religion exists beyond the bounds of politics and whose opinions encompass more than just the desire to see other Jews killed — I repudiate their vile actions. You do not get to use your Judaism as cover to support the murder of Jews. No one does. Never Again.

Am Yisrael Chai.

The author is a fellow at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle Eastern Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA)


Photo Caption: Jewish protesters for Palestine

Photo Credit: Bruce Emmerling via Creative Commons