Ferguson is not Gaza

Ferguson is not Gaza.

The conflation of Palestinian suffering with racism against African Americans is inaccurate and offensive. One dare not compare the suffering of Gazans with African Americans, lest we forget that, through self-determination, the Palestinian residents of Gaza elected Hamas, a murderous group bent on Israel’s destruction, as their leaders. Hamas chose to use resources designated for construction to instead burrow under Israel with the intent to murder Jews.

To compare the plight of the Palestinians, whose leaders in Gaza have robbed them of dignity, with African Americans, whose leaders are channeling deep and righteous historic indignation into constructive demands for dignity and liberation is worse than wrong – it is an insult. Furthermore, it ignores the moral responsibility Hamas bears for subjugating 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza to their murderous mission.

Palestinians should learn from the non-violent protests taking place in Ferguson. Were Palestinian liberation efforts to utilize non-violence, there would be no effective barrier stopping a Palestinian State from being created side by side with Israel as its supportive Jewish neighbor in the very near future.

The racism embedded in American society is an unholy affront to black and brown and white (etc…) people. So too does the sin of terrorism deny Palestinians from leading themselves to national self-determination and human dignity. The notion that Israel has the obligation to not react when assaulted is a perversion of the Christian principle of “turning the other cheek.” So too is the notion that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism a moral mistake and an erasure of the moral consequences for their own actions.

Justice demands that we hear the cries of the blood of our sisters and brothers that has saturated earth and pavement, near and far. To hear their cries is to be called to respond, and our broken hearts have known enough pain to realize that the paths forward demand careful thinking, brave action, and indefatigable moral sensibility. Every human being is created in the image of God, but no two people’s or People’s stories are the same, and therefore no two situations are the same. Our unique identities and narratives contain the basis of our own much-needed redemption songs. Jews cannot claim to “know” the plight of African Americans, despite the wedded-ness of our own liberation story from Egypt. We stand together, but we know that our interwoven lives require a recognition of independent dignity. So too must Palestinians claim their own way forward, perhaps gleaning from the current moment in Ferguson (and Hong Kong) alternatives to violence.

Mike Brown’s martyrdom was not the result of an act of terrorism and Ferguson’s liberation from racism is not Gaza’s road to peace.

About the Author
Rabbi Menachem Creditor is Scholar in Residence at UJA-Federation New York, where his role is amplifying Jewish learning, leadership and values within the UJA-Federation community of supporters, staff, and partners. In 2013, he was named by Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America. Rabbi Creditor has been involved in the leadership of Rabbis Against Gun Violence, American Jewish World Service, AIPAC and the One American Movement, an organization dedicated to bringing together Americans of different faiths and opinions. Among his 16 books and six albums of original Jewish music are “And Yet We Love: Poems,” “Primal Prayers,” and “Olam Chesed Yibaneh/A World of Love.”
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