An Open Letter to Jewish Activists

Dear (some, not all) American Jewish Activists:

I admire your passion. I respect your commitment to your Progressive ideals. I am inspired by your strong orientation towards justice that is derived from your Jewish background. Your political activism is rooted in an altruistic and well-intentioned place. Advocating for refugees, immigrants, minorities, and those who are marginalized in society is honorable.

But, why don’t you all direct some of that to your own people if you are Jewish activists. Why do you say “Never Again”  at the border, but not for our own people who are being ruthlessly beaten in the streets of New York? Why do you belittle the Holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews by calling immigrant holding centers with terrible conditions  concentration camps when there isn’t systematic mass murder being committed? Why do you march in the streets for black lives across the country, but not for Jewish lives across the country (Pittsburgh, Poway, New York, Miami, etc.)? Why do you have sit-ins near ICE facilities, but not sit-ins at your local, state, and federal representatives’ offices demanding solutions and action to combatting the skyrocket in anti-Semitic attacks and rhetoric? Why do you scream, yell, protest, and organize for people who wish to cause you harm (Rashida Thalib, Ilhan Omar, Women’s March leaders), but not for those who would give you a place to stay and a meal to eat for Shabbat?

Why do you say your Jewish values/identity are so important, yet you use it to only advocate for non-Jewish causes, and you don’t advocate for Jews, or to fight anti-Semitism, or your homeland, or our civil rights (Zionism)?

What are those Jewish values which you hold so dear? Is it chesed (kindness)? Is it tefillah (prayer)? Is it pikuach nefesh (to save a life is to save the world)? Is it Zion (Jerusalem)? Is it Am Yisrael (the people of Israel)? Or is it just that one value that is continually misrepresented, so it can be used as a means for justifying a political ideology – tikkun olam? Or is it now even tikkun olam, and you just say your activism derives from your Jewish values because it provides you with a cover against white-savior charges and gives you license to justify your radical worldview?

Perhaps, your Jewish identity isn’t that important to you, and you just use it when it’s politically convenient to try and make it appear you represent all the American Jewish community, while giving yourselves intersectional credibility.

Perhaps, there is some sort of underlying guilt that you feel from your so-called Progressive allies because they continually demonize Israel, say Jews benefit from white privilege, scream that Zionism is colonialism and racism, and that Jews are successful, so they can’t face discrimination or oppression.

Or maybe the Jewish lives that have either been taken from us, or been attacked, don’t deserve outrage, protest, and activism. After all, many of these attacks have been on Orthodox Jews. And they’re beyond the pale with their beliefs, right? They’re living a backwards, regressive lifestyle that isn’t up to your modern, secular, humanistic beliefs, right? They certainly aren’t deserving of the same rights and support as undocumented immigrants crossing the border, or LGBTQ people fighting for equal rights in society. And the Jews that were killed in Pittsburgh, and the Jew who was killed at my synagogue in Poway were praying on Shabbat, which means they were engaging in religion and tradition, and those concepts are oppressive, bigoted, sexist, divisive, irrational, and exclusionary, right?

Maybe, you don’t want to advocate for Jews, because the Jews who raised you, failed you. They didn’t tell you the importance of looking out for your fellow Jew, they didn’t tell you that Zionism is collective social justice for the Jewish people, they didn’t tell you that anti-Semitism is not exclusive to one race, political ideology, religion, or group, they didn’t tell you what Jewish values actually were, and they didn’t instill a strong, unapologetic, appreciative, and proud Jewish identity in you that loves Judaism and all of Am Yisrael. If that’s the case, then I completely understand – it’s not entirely your fault.

So, “Jewish” Activists, I don’t question your Progressive values or even oppose them, but until you apply your supposed Jewish values and identity to Jewish causes, Jewish lives, and Jewish rights, I do seriously question them.

Sincerely,

A Fellow Jewish Activist

 

About the Author
Born in San Diego, Aaron Raimi is a Zionist and Jewish rights activist and current student at Santa Monica College majoring in Political Science. Having previously attended UCSB, Aaron was a Hasbara Fellow there and advocated for Israel and the Jewish people while defending the Jewish state from ideological and academic warfare in the form of BDS and anti-Zionist Professors and students. Aaron's long-term vision for Jewish activism on campus is to change the paradigm in which Zionism is viewed from a negative to a positive, and Jewish students to proudly embrace their identity, culture, and history.
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