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Darya Shaikh

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These Are Not My Jewish Values!

Posted: 08/21/2012 3:42 pm

Over the last year or so, I have felt myself hardening, growing increasingly jaded about the day to day happenings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have been working on this issue for many years and made a promise to myself early on that I would stop if I ever lost touch with the emotion and passion that led me to choose this work in the first place.

Intellectually, I read the headlines and recognize the rapidly growing distance between the present and peace. However, if I'm honest, feelings of anger, frustration and alarm have been absent for some time.

All that changed today. The first two headlines I read left me absolutely infuriated and sadder than I've been in a long time. Late Thursday night, Jewish youth savagely attacked three Palestinians while shouting racist slurs in Jerusalem's Zion Square. Earlier that day, settlers hurling fire bombs at Palestinians in the West Bank, wounding a family of six.

This made me want to scream at the top of my lungs, "These are not my Jewish values!"

Some may question whether I am the right person to declare some form of ownership over Jewish values -- with a Jewish, Israeli mother and a Muslim, Pakistani father. I have let that worry stop me from speaking up before, but I refuse to let that silence me this time. The Judaism I was raised with is all about dugma ishit, or leadership by example.

I have heard Jews from across the spectrum of orthodoxy state that the Jewish people are a light onto all nations. True or not, every self-identifying Jew must recognize that when these kinds of vitriolic, hateful actions are perpetrated in the name of Jewish values -- by those who claim superiority and entitlement over others -- we not only fuel the growing tide of global anti-Semitism, we render ourselves completely unworthy of the title "the chosen people."

If this is the future of the so-called Jewish State, then I say no, thank you.

We cannot turn a blind eye to these events. They may be exceptional at the moment, but if the Israeli public chooses to sit silently by and allow these actions to be taken in their name, then they are all guilty by association.

When a Palestinian act of terror has been committed, we all rightly demand condemnation. Why is this situation any different? If anything, this is a key opportunity for the Israeli leadership to show their dugma ishit and demonstrate a commitment to non-violence as the only means toward peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

Every single day, more and more negative realities are being created. If we take a step back, we can actually measure the growing rift that has formed between the present day, the status quo of conflict and occupation, and the future of the two-state solution.

These actions must be stopped. If the political leadership does not stand up to condemn them, then they are not worthy of being called leaders. Let the people stand up and show what real Jewish values are made of!

Darya Shaikh is executive director of the PeaceWorks Foundation and acting chief executive officer of the OneVoice Movement. The international grassroots movement aims to amplify the voice of Israeli and Palestinian moderates, empowering them to seize back the agenda for conflict resolution and demand their leaders achieve the two-state solution.

 
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