Colleague Judith Norman, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace – San Antonio and a Professor of Philosophy at Trinity University, offers this reflection on solidarity with Gaza and a challenge as we in the Episcopal Church prepare for our General Convention in 2022.
I want to think a bit about what solidarity means and what it requires of us.
Today I read that of the 37 states that painted Black Lives Matter on their streets, only one ended qualified immunity for police. This points to some of the pitfalls of solidarity: how easy some of the performative gestures can be, how good they can look, how hollow they really are.
True solidarity is demanding. It requires us in the first place to listen to the people we’re in solidarity with. The BLM activists weren’t asking for sidewalk chalk: they were asking for a real change in the balance of power. Solidarity requires us to join in and uplift their demands for real solutions, not cosmetic solutions. Similarly, it requires our real participation, not our cosmetic (performative) participation. Real solidarity requires us to be in it for the long term, not to disappear when the cause leaves the headlines.
Right now, there is a ceasefire in Gaza. But my friend, Kareem in
“Israel launched a campaign to arrest 500 of Palestinians citizens of Israel
Israel is still provoking Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah
Israel is now blocking the only border for goods into Gaza
Israel is blocking fishermen in Gaza from fishing
Israel forces yesterday stormed al Aqsa and injured 15 Palestinian worshipers
Israel is still cutting the electricity (that we pay for it) on Gaza, made it 4 hours a day only
This is all not in [the] mass media, because Israelis in Tel Aviv are now back to beaches, everything came back normal to Israelis.”
Now is the time to lean in and redouble our commitment. Solidarity does just not mean affirming our common humanity. That’s too easy. Palestinians aren’t being attacked because of our common humanity. They are being attacked because of their Palestinian identity. Solidarity requires us to find out more about Palestinian identity learn about Palestine, as a place of beauty and samoud as well as a place of occupation and oppression.
Solidarity requires us to know not just about people in Palestine, but about ourselves as well, our positionalities, the amount of tax dollars we send to Israel, the way we’re implicated in the oppression, our own proximity to power, our own blind spots, our own comfort levels, not so that we can stay inside of them but so that we can push back against them. Because solidarity requires risk. If we’re in this for congratulations or virtue signaling, then we’re not acting in solidarity.
So I would like each of you to think about how you can push yourself. What risks you can take, what actions you can take to help keep the Palestinian struggle visible and to act on our involvement in the oppression of Palestine. I want to challenge each one of you to think: What action can I take, how can I push myself to stand in true solidarity.