Sara Saber-Freedman
Sara Saber-Freedman

My Solidarity Is Unconditional

It’s time to push back against the world’s oldest form of hate. Visit fightit.ca (CIJA)

I will always stand with you.

I will stand with you because the Jewish people have too often stood alone.  I will never forget what it means to be without allies and unprotected.  Antisemitism is an ancient and singular hatred that mutates across civilizations and generations.  Its only antidote is moral conscience, and its best defense is solidarity.

I will stand with my queer friends and family as they continue their decades-long struggle for full equality, because I know that love is love is love.

I will stand with my Black friends – I remember that the Jews were slaves in Egypt, and so I know what it is to lose your freedom and to fight for its return.

I will stand with the Uyghurs, Rohingyas, Yazidis, Armenians, and Rwandans – I remember the pogroms and the Holocaust, and so I know the meaning of genocide.

I will stand with my Syrian friends – I remember Auschwitz, and so I know what it means to have poison gas deployed against a civilian population.

I will stand with my Asian friends – I remember that the Black Death of the Middle Ages was portrayed as a Jewish plot against Christianity, and that the Jews of Europe were therefore burned by mobs.  I know what it is to be scapegoated as the purveyors of plague.

I will stand with the Indigenous peoples of Canada – the memory of the Inquisition reminds me what it means when your children are taken away and buried in unmarked graves.

I will stand with all of you because the history of the Jewish people is a history of displacement and dispossession, of repeated genocide, forced conversion, segregation, and of otherness.  I will stand with you because long before the science of epigenetics, my tradition taught that what happened to my ancestors also happened to me.

I will stand with you because the creation of Israel provided my people, the Jewish people, with something we had lost for two thousand years: empowerment in our ancestral homeland, a small space where our minority status would not leave us powerless against existential threat.  Against all odds, we assembled the decimated shreds of a global diaspora, resurrected our ancient language, and built a new-old country that stands today as the indispensable bulwark against another Jewish genocide.  It is excruciating to see that simple fact providing yet another justification for Jew-hatred.

And because my support for a Jewish state has never been a zero-sum game, I will also stand with all those who share that support while calling for the creation of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security.

I once believed, perhaps in the naïve privilege of my people’s newfound re-empowerment, that yours was the greater need, and ours, therefore, the more pressing moral obligation.  I believe that no longer.

My solidarity with you did not wait for the broad awakening of the last few years. It was never in question because of the voices that argued that your struggle was yours alone, or that it lacked merit. My support was never conditional on broad validation.  It stands, unshakeably, on the merits of your lived experience and the justice of the change and redress that you seek.

Now, my queer friends, my Black friends, my Syrian friends, my Asian friends, my Indigenous friends; right now, your Jewish friends need you.  You know what it is to be isolated, closeted, dispossessed, scapegoated, and brutalized. You know what it feels like when the world takes aim at your children.  And you know how important allies can be in confronting those whose explicit goal is your obliteration.

Now, I ask you to also stand with me.  Not because I stand with you.  But because it is right.

About the Author
Sara Saber-Freedman is the Executive Vice President of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of Canada’s Jewish Federations.
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