In regard to Daniel Gordis’s column “IfNotNow’s Trump- channeling manifesto” (November 2): On the first day of the ground invasion of Operation Protective Edge, I crossed the fence into Gaza with a platoon of fighters behind me and crossed back into Israel on the last.Thankfully, none of my soldiers sustained any severe physical injuries. I wish I could say the same about the emotional and psychological scars we all must bear for the rest of our lives; knowing that it was pure chance that we weren’t among the 66 Israeli soldiers – some friends of ours – who were killed in action is just one.
Coming home from a war is never easy. Especially when my belief that I was sent off to protect the only democracy in the Middle East crashed onto reality. The disillusionment I experienced when I returned was twofold – first, processing the unethical way we fought inside Gaza, and then discovering what happened inside of Israel while we were fighting.
I know we were told to shoot to kill anyone over the age of 14, and still remember the sight of the complete destruction of Palestinian villages in the area we were deployed. After seeing the massive use of artillery and air strikes from up close, I was anything but surprised that we killed 415 Palestinian children.Despite what I knew happened on the ground, I came home and saw right-wingers thinly disguised as “hasbara activists” desperately trying to cover up what we actually did as soldiers with the same tenacity with which they worked to delegitimize those protesting against the government’s decision to send us.
While witnessing the public discourse right after the war I couldn’t help asking who really had my best interest in mind. The answer was painful but clear – it wasn’t the old-guard occupation apologists who seem willing to do anything to justify the policies that will inevitably lead to another operation in Gaza. The people who really had my back were the ones trying to put an end to the occupation, and do whatever they can to make sure my little brother and another generation of Israeli soldiers aren’t sent into Gaza just like I was. People like the young Jewish Americans that make up IfNotNow (INN).
Since that initial understanding, I’ve become an activist myself and joined Breaking the Silence. Leaders of INN recently visited Israel for a weeklong seminar where they built important bridges with Israeli and Palestinian activists who oppose the occupation and work for justice and equality on other issues as well. It seems that Gordis’s claim that INN is not taken seriously by progressive Israelis is as out of touch as his stand on the occupation; a desperate attempt to fight the tectonic shifts in American Jewish politics.
The truth is that anyone who supports the occupation should fear partnerships between American and Israeli progressives. The bridges we are building today will carry us into a future where American Jews can speak out against the occupation fearlessly, a future where Israel doesn’t control millions of Palestinians. The real question isn’t whether INN is taken seriously by Israelis, it’s when Israel will choose to put an end to half a century-long military regime in the territories.