Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Young Jewish Voices coming from New Orleans, ringing loud and clear ( and making waves, too!)

Young Jewish Voices coming from New Orleans, Ringing Loud and Clear (and making waves, too!)

As I watched the action, by 5 young Jewish activists, inside the hall where Netanyahu was busy disseminating his pile of tired platitudes, I was imbued by a sense of thrill, tinged with some anxiety as the temperature in the room was rising with each interruption. The last activist, Rae Abileah, was put in a chokehold by one in the crowd, eager to defend Israel at all costs from the 28 year old menace.

My cathartic experience has to do, no doubt, with a long history of frustration and rage at the way my local JCC and The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona have for decades kept people such as myself from speaking in forums on Israel/Palestine and from expressing our views on the role we feel organized Jews should play in working to end the atrocities committed in our name. It was decided from above, time and again, by the (unelected) leadership, that opposition to Israeli policies is beyond the pale, a political act! while support for Israeli policies, even when delivered by Israeli politicians is never characterized as such.

Hence the excitement!
The video of the action can be found at
The demonstration got amazingly wide coverage - especially considering the fact that most work and action by left wing activists gets ignored, or hardly reported on.
It's important to mention that many other activists - under the wing of Jewish Voice for Peace - have taken part in preparing for this and related activities.
To see an account by one of the 5, read Rae Abileah's Jewish Values vs. Israeli Policies: Why five young Jews disrupted PM Netanyau in New Orleans, at

I've included an account, some in prose and some in the form of a poem, by activist Rachel Roberts.

Racheli Gai (who is, by way of disclosure, a JVP activist.)

Rachel Roberts: Challenging the Jewish General Assembly

on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 10:48pm
By now, almost all of you have certainly heard that I am one of the young Jews who went to New Orleans this week to challenge the exclusivist, anti-Palestinian, fear infused, anti-peace space created by the mainstream Jewish community at the Jewish General Assembly. Together, our collective wrote poetry to express how we feel, not only about our strong objections to American Jewish complicity in unjust Israeli policy, but to express our dismay at what the American Jewish community has become. Sadly, my many responsibilities in Los Angeles meant that I was unable to stay for the disruption of Netanyahu's speech, but I wrote this poem for the brave young Jewish students who took part. Since the disruption there has been an outpouring of love for us, but some within the mainstream Jewish community have chosen to critique us for not being civil enough. They assert that if only we massaged them in the right way, if we jump through their various hoops, they would respect us. I know,
however, that they need to hear our rage and our bitterness. They need to know that we believe that they have failed us, because their ears and their hearts are closed. These are my words and I hope they will inspire you to stand up tall against their agenda, for it truly is what threatens world Jewry.

Let Them Know

Today let them feel both our bitterness and our love, for both are our tools.

Let them know our faces and hear our truths.

May they stop pretending that we are invisible, that they can provide us with pre-recorded talking points for us to simply playback.

Do not allow them to forget our anger and disappointment at the way they have failed us, because they must know.

Let them know about the young Israelis who speak fluent Arabic so that they might hear Palestinians, with whom they march every week, in their own words.

Remind them that the soft skin burned and melted because of the white phosphorous thrown on purpose is also our skin.

Remind them that each slab of concrete in the apartheid wall separates them from us.

When they feel our anger and disappointment, may they also feel our electric faith- our thrill at the prospect for a truly just future.

we are not their bastard delegitimate children, but the beautiful future.

May they someday realize that we have saved them and hold their legacy so dear that we could not let go.

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Racheli Gai
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