Solidarity Committee's mission is to support independence, security and
self-determination for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine, and to
change U.S. policy in the Middle East by educating Americans in ways
that American funds and foreign policy are used to maintain the Israeli
military occupation which violates Palestinian human rights and generates
violence from both sides. We object to the Israeli government's policies
of occupation, apartheid, and dispossession of Palestinians. In opposing
these policies and US support for them, our objections are directed
at the unjust practices of a political regime, not against the Jewish
people of the world.
We reject the false identification of the State of Israel with
the Jewish people of the world.
The identification of Israeli policies with the religion of Judaism
or with the Jewish people is used to suppress dissent and to create
monolithic support for those policies among Jews and those people
who wish to resist anti-Jewish prejudice. The nation of Israel is
a state like any other state, and must be held to the same standards
of human rights universally accepted by the modern community of nations.
We also reject the false identification of Zionism with the Jewish
people of the world.
The Zionist movement which founded the State of Israel was and
is a secular nationalist movement. Many Jews, including many Israeli
Jews, do not subscribe to the principles of the Zionist movement.
Jews are an ethnic group. One may be Jewish without subscribing to
the religion of Judaism, and one may be Jewish without being a Zionist
or a supporter of the State of Israel or its policies.
Criticisms of Zionism or of the State of Israel are not the same
as criticism of the Jewish people of the world.
However, since we reject the Israeli government's identification
of "Israeli" or “Zionist” with "Jew", we must be careful not to equate
these terms ourselves, positively or negatively. We must be rigorous
in our awareness of racist terms and stereotypes that have historically
been applied to Jewish people.
“Anti-Semitic” is the common adjective for prejudice against Jews,
but the terms "anti-Semitism" and "anti-Semitic" can be misleading.
While historically understood to refer to prejudice against Jews,
the terms actually promote an outmoded use of racial categories. Under
that terminology, Arabs are also Semitic people. Since for the moment
we are focusing on prejudice against Jews, we prefer in this context
the more precise term “anti-Jewish".
THERE ARE SEVERAL STEREOTYPES ABOUT JEWS WHICH WE MUST BE CAREFUL
• There is
no foundation for the myth that Jews are more wealthy, avaricious
or obsessed with wealth than any other individuals, peoples or ethnic
The stereotypical association of Jews with wealth and avarice arose
in Europe during the Middle Ages when it was illegal for Jews to own
land or live in certain parts of European cities or to engage in most
of the economic practices necessary for survival. Because the Christian
church at that time barred Christians from lending money, Jews were
encouraged to take up this practice -- and then scorned for doing
so. The myth of Jews hoarding money thus evolved from discrimination
against Jews which allowed them only a few occupations. While a small
number of Jews at that time were engaged in banking and finance, a
vastly greater number were living in impoverished and oppressive conditions,
particularly in the ghettos and shtetls of Eastern Europe.
• There is no evidence of a centralized international conspiracy
of Jews to control banks, media, Congress, or the world in general.
If there is a dominant group in power in the world, it is more likely
males of various European ethnicities and religions who own big multinational
corporations, some of which are wealthier than many countries. The
myth of secret high-level conspiracies of Jews is another malicious
falsehood that began in Europe, spread to Russia and the United States
in the 1800s, and has been used repeatedly to distract populations
from the genuine concentrations of power. This myth culminated in
such fabrications as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,
a fake document apparently circulated by Czarist secret police to
stir up racial discontent against Russian Jews in the early twentieth
We find hints of this stereotype in the insistence that US support
for Israel is entirely due to the influence of the so-called "Jewish
lobby". The American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a
powerful pro-Israel lobby, but it is not a Jewish lobby: it does not
lobby for the Jewish people of the world, but for the State of Israel.
Furthermore, there are several other powerful factions that pressure
the US government to support the Israeli government, such as right-wing
Christian groups (many of which give funding to AIPAC) and the Aerospace
Industry Association (AIA). The AIA, promoting sales of weapons and
equipment to Israel, donates twice as much to political campaigns
in this country as all the pro-Israel groups combined.
• The historical persecution of Jewish people is not a fabrication.
The notion that victims of oppression are manufacturing their own
oppression is applied to every oppressed people; it has been falsely
said about Palestinians as well. History documents over 2000 years
of persecution, expulsion, apartheid and holocaust levelled against
Jewish people by many countries in Europe and elsewhere, culminating
in the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi regime in Germany. Individual
and institutional prejudice against Jews has an ugly history in this
country as well. This history of persecution in no way justifies the
State of Israel's persecution of non-Jews, but the history itself
is not made up, and persons promoting justice do themselves no service
by trying to ignore or minimize it.
The State of Israel, on the other hand, has systematically invented
a history for itself, just as many nation-states have done, in which
it is simultaneously victim and victor against overwhelming odds.
The well-documented truth of the six million Jews murdered in the
Nazi Holocaust is exploited by some Israelis to justify the policy
of oppression against Palestinians. We have every reason to reject
this practice and the falsehoods of Israeli history, but we must not
let that lead us into underestimating or denigrating the appalling
worldwide history of persecution of Jewish people.
• Judaism is not an incomplete or early form of Christianity.
Judaism is a complete world religion in itself, with many basic distinctions
from Christian doctrine, tenet, and practice. The development of theology
and philosophy in Judaism has continued unabated through the many
centuries since the creation of Christianity two thousand years ago.
Some Christians fundamentalists support Israel not because they support
freedom of religion, but because Jewish presence in Jerusalem plays
a key role in the Christian Armageddon. According to this theology,
some chosen Jews will achieve divine redemption -- but only if they
convert to Christianity. Christians who support Israeli policies because
of this are not true allies of the Jewish people, but simply enemies
of Arabs and Muslims on religious grounds.
• There is
no evidence that blood rituals and human sacrifice with Gentile victims
have ever been part of Jewish religious or ethnic practice.
The fiction of Jewish blood-sacrifice against Christians and other
non-Jews is among the most outrageous slanders, and not much in circulation
these days. This myth was just another medieval Euro-Russian way of
dehumanizing Jews and portraying them as a threat to the very "body"
of society and civilization.
Horridly fanciful as this fiction may seem, however, it has been used
through the centuries to stimulate and justify pogroms and purges
against Jewish people in many countries. The wounds from this kind
of treatment pass down through generations, and we must be aware that
we can open this wound if we are insensitive to it.
For example: sometimes reports in this country will emphasize that
"Jews are killing Christians in Bethlehem", as if it is more heinous
for Christians to be murdered by Jews than for anybody to be murdered
by anybody else. In reality, when Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians
(Muslim, Christian, agnostic . . .), they are not doing so because
they are Jewish, but because they are soldiers in the Israeli army
and carrying out Israeli policy. Many Jews around the world abhor
these killings and have spoken against the occupation, forming groups
to say "not in my name." Many Israeli soldiers and reservists have
refused to serve in the Israeli army in the West Bank, Gaza and East
Jerusalem because they believe they are being ordered to perform war
crimes in the Occupied Territories.
Palestine Solidarity Committee rejects all forms of racism, including
racism against both Arabs and Jews. Racism against Arabs is virulent
and alive in our society, but racism against Jews also still exists
and requires our diligent attention. Careless or deliberate employment
of anti-Jewish statements in our work compounds the historical injustice
against Jews, wrongly implicates an entire ethnic group in the crimes
against the Palestinians, and discredits our struggle for justice
in the Middle East.
History reminds us over and over that victims may become oppressors
when in power. As more and more people in the United States and Israel
are awakening to the truth of the displacement and apartheid conditions
under which Palestinians are being forced to live, we must remember
that our goal is self-determination for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine,
and we must be ever more careful not to mirror or pass on persecution
in our turn. As our work gains momentum, we have increasing obligation
to be vigilant in our refusal to endorse or participate in racist
behaviors or statements against Jews, Israelis, or any people of the