Tlaib: “We can only dismantle antisemitism and Islamophobia and anti-Black racism when we do it together”
Thousands logged on Tuesday night to watch a riveting panel of progressive leaders discuss antisemitism, share experiences and envision a world where we dismantle antisemitism, together. The full recording of the Jewish Voice for Peace Action webinar can be seen on JVP Action Facebook, and select quotes are provided below.
Representative Rashida Tlaib shared heart-breaking stories about raising her Muslim son in the midst of Islamophobia, and how her commitment to his safety and freedom guides her commitment to the fight against antisemitism and anti-Black racism and all forms of hatred.
Temple University professor and host of BET News Dr. Marc Lamont Hill described experiencing the history of Jewish-Black solidarity while on racial justice protests in Philadelphia, and learning to confront antisemitism in all its forms. He also elaborated on the deeply racist underpinnings inherent in the antisemitic conspiracy theories that target the Movment for Black Lives. *Dr. Hill’s comments were submitted via video as he was unable to attend due to a loss in his family.
Peter Beinart, Opinion Writer at The New York Times and CUNY professor, spoke about the role Jewish anti-apartheid activists in South Africa played in shaping his own understandings of solidarity. He argued that Jews now have to decide with whom they want to ally – do they ally with oppressive bigots who elevate Jews over other peoples, or do they adhere to Jewish tradition, and acknowledge that the fate of Jews is bound up with allies who have also known oppression.
Writer and historian Dr. Barbara Ransby described protesting white nationalist rallies in Detriot in the 1970s, and seeing Nazi and Confederate flags flown together – “It did not take much to make the connection between anti-Black racism and antisemitism.” Referencing Ella Baker, she called for political quilting – not an alliance of convenience, but the assessing of what side of history you stand on, and who stands there with you.
And Jewish Voice for Peace Action Deputy Director Rabbi Alissa Wise described how her solidarity work with Palestinians taught her to challenge the myths of Jewish isolation she was taught in her Zionist day school. She recounted the antisemitism she faced as a child, and the antisemitic accusations she faces today for her defense of Palestinian rights, and the hope and courage she finds through solidarity.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib: “It’s all the same people oppressing us. The fight against antisemitism is so connected to my own freedom. To my right to live as a Muslim in this country, as a child of immigrants, as a Palestinian… And whoever you are, you should always be free to be who you are and be loved. Whoever you are, I won’t let hate happen to your family, just like I won’t let it happen to my family.”
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill: “The people marching against Jews were also marching against black folk – we have to realize just how bound up we are together… Right now, around the world, antisemitism not only exists, but it’s spreading. We always have to be courageous when it comes to speaking the truth and defending anyone who is vulnerable. The fight to end antisemitism is as urgent as any other.”
Peter Beinart: “We can take the experience of antisemitism and use it as a guidepost to struggle for anyone being denied the rights that we would want for ourselves… There are people watching this who have been taught that Alissa and I are self-hating Jews. Or that Marc and Rashida are antisemitic. But trust your gut. You might disagree with us, but none of us are antisemitic. Instead, let this be a process of beginning and learning with an open mind and an open heart.”
Dr. Barbara Ransby: “Antisemitism is real, current, dangerous. We don’t have the luxury to be confused about what we are fighting against. Palestinians are not the enemy. BDS advocates are not the enemy. People like myself, who criticize the state of Israel, are not the enemy. The enemy are people who open fire in synagogues in Pittsburgh and San Diego. The enemy is the elected official who watches people in South Carolina with torches chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ and calls them very fine people – that’s the enemy. It’s important to name the thing – so we don’t get distracted.”
Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace Action Deputy Director: “It’s not antisemitism to see that Israel has its boot on the neck of Palestinians and to fight like hell to get that boot lifted off. This doesn’t make me less of a Jew or a less of a rabbi. This doesn’t mean I am a traitor. It means I love my people. And to pretend that it is, leaves Jews vulnerable to real antisemitism… Over the two decades I’ve worked in solidarity with Palestinians and in anti-racist struggles across the United Sates, I have learned that Jews, like other marginalized people, are not alone. Jews have allies. And can be allies. That’s what marginalized people do.”
Some panelists and JVP Action staff are available to speak with the media
JVP Action is an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(4) political and advocacy partner organization of Jewish Voice for Peace. It is a multiracial, intergenerational movement of Jews and allies working towards justice and equality in Israel/Palestine by transforming U.S. policy.