The idea of a land where my religious identity is welcomed and where I feel safe to be myself and live in peace is a beautiful idea but it is just that, a beautiful idea.
Judaism, at least in my understanding of it, encourages questioning. From Abraham to Maimonides and beyond, Judaism reveres intellect and questioning over blind faith or unwavering obedience. Indeed, in the Passover Seder, the most important role given to children in reading the Maggid, the story of the original Passover, is to ask four questions. From a young age, the importance of asking questions is emphasised.
Despite this, amongst even the most progressive and liberal of my fellow Jewish congregants I have often felt that there is one thing that I must not dare to question and that is the Israeli state.
Yet, ironically, it is my Jewish faith and identity that compels me to do exactly that.
Religious identity manifests differently for every individual and faith is a very intimate and private relationship. There is no singular Jewish voice any more than there is one singular voice of any race, religion or gender. We Jews are not a monolith. When I feel most connected to my faith it is in stories of resistance from oppression in the Torah and it is in examples of Jewish historical figures such as Saul Alinsky or Eleanor Marx who are known as champions of social justice.
Therefore, when I see peaceful protesters being shot and killed by the Israeli Defence Force, I say not in my name. When I see citizens of a country that is supposed to be a place of refuge being excluded from equal rights to housing, schooling and employment based on ethnicity, I say not my country. When an Orthodox Jewish American who has never set foot in the Middle East has more right to land and nationality than someone whose family has for centuries worked that soil, sheltered under those trees and breathed that air, I say not my government.
In the face of nation-wide racism and injustice Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (that’s what BDS stands for), feels like an urgent bare minimum to support and a fundamental way for me to express my Jewish faith.
The Union Referenda on BDS and more information about what it is are available online: https://www.sussexstudent.com/referenda/