January 10, 2014
As we engage in action in support of the Palestinian call for a just peace, we become aware that there is resistance on several fronts. As we challenge the policy of occupation and illegal settlement construction by Israel, we are accused of anti-Semitism. I believe we should let the truth bear witness and put our efforts into building awareness within the church and public about the issues of injustice rather than counter-attacking the opposition.
However, I am becoming increasingly disappointed in the claims or inference by politicians and media that criticism or actions opposing the policies of Israel are anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, we need to avoid giving them reason for such claims. We need to make it clear that challenging the policies of the Israeli government is not a criticism of the the identity of the people, either ethnic or religious, as a Jew. Jim Wicks, who was with the group on the LIFE Seminar that recently returned from Palestine/Israel, shared an insight he discovered in Noam Chayut’s book “The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust”, Chapter 22, in which members of a youth group were asked to mark a spot inside a triangle and write his or her name closest to the identity they felt most affiliated with. I am not sure if it is a good parallel, but we might use the triangle with the terms Canadian, Christian, "Political Party Name" (or some other term that would describe our socio-political vision) to clarify the aspect of our identity which underlies our actions and motivations.
The triangle helps to show that different terms may be used to refer to the identity of an individual or a group of people. Each person will identify with these terms according to their experience and context. The point of Jim's note, I think, is that we need to be aware of the connotations of these terms in our usage with reference to the population of Israel.