The recently-formed Chavurah for a Free Palestine is a group of Kehilla members who oppose Zionism and support Palestinian liberation. We join people across the world in solidarity with Palestine and in support of the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). We offer resources and opportunities at Kehilla to engage in discussion, to further understanding of the impacts of Zionism, and to participate in Palestine solidarity activism.
In collaboration with local, national, and international groups, we participate in events, actions, and campaigns in support of Palestinian movements for freedom and justice.
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Our 5782 Letter to Kehilla Community Synagogue
The Palestinian-led struggle for justice and freedom is a global movement in which people from all societies and backgrounds have participated–including many Jewish people. We are the Chavurah for a Free Palestine of Kehilla Synagogue, organized to support Palestinian liberation and to oppose Zionism. We work within and beyond our synagogue and its community-based networks. We believe that it is long past time for Jewish people en masse, and Jewish institutions, to support the Palestine solidarity movement with concrete action. We support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and ask that individual members of our synagogue, and the institution as a whole, officially join this movement.
Every local and regional effort for Palestine solidarity has its own history regarding this struggle. We recognize that the San Francisco Bay Area in general, and Kehilla Synagogue specifically, have been sites of great creativity and collective action for Jewish solidarity with Palestine. The Jewish Alliance Against Zionism, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network were all founded in the Bay Area. We wish to continue and extend this legacy of resistance.
We also acknowledge the complexity and variety of emotions Jewish people may have in relation to the State of Israel, and we know that it is hard for many Jewish people to reject Zionism. At the same time, since the founding of the Zionist movement, many Jewish people have rejected this state-national project. This continues today: many Jewish people are now ”wrestling” with their relationship to Zionism, horrified by Israeli state violence. A growing number of Jews across the United States now see Israel as an apartheid state.
In 2005, dozens of organizations representing a cross-section of Palestinian society published a call to action: this was the launch of the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.” Joining this movement is a concrete way for people across the world to enact solidarity with the Palestinian people. The BDS movement is built on a foundation of internationalism, a broad coalition that has arisen in different ways, many times, when oppressed people looked to a global ‘movement of movements’ for support. The BDS movement gives us opportunities to take action for Palestine, positioned where we are.
We have particular opportunities for boycott, for divestment, and to raise our voice in support of sanctions against the Israeli state, as Jewish people specifically. The Campaign Against the Jewish National Fund, the call to “Return the Birthright,” and the creation of ethically produced ritual objects are all important opportunities for Jewish people to participate in BDS. Organizations can also join the movement by signing on to the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS. We believe that it is time for Kehilla Community Synagogue to do so.
For generations, Palestinian people have suffered and fought against the colonization of their home, the dispossession of their people, and the decimation of their lived environment. To maintain domination and control, Zionist forces and then the Israeli government and military have used brutal tactics of displacement, military occupation, massacre, siege, incarceration, legal violence, cultural degradation, ecological destruction, and more. This tragedy goes on, and has taken a horrific turn in the last 15 years with the repeated bombing of a trapped population in Gaza and the violent harassment of Palestians by Israeli settlers – with the full backing of the Israeli military.
The State of Israel claims to represent a “humanistic” response to the historical and ongoing reality of antisemitism. The world increasingly recognizes this hypocrisy, understanding the State of Israel for what it is: a violent, oppressor state, based on a racial hierarchy that subjects Palestinian people to Jewish supremacy, while also subjecting many different Jewish peoples to a violent racial hierarchy–with Ashkenazi or white Jewish people at the pinnacle.
We understand the Palestine solidarity movement as a part of our own culture of resistance and our own will to survival. We are connected, and we know that our liberation as Jews can only come as part of the struggle for liberation of all oppressed people. Joining the BDS movement as a synagogue is an opportunity for us to link our safety and liberation, as a Jewish community, with a global struggle for justice and freedom.