Louis George, Creative Commons
First and foremost, I’m not writing this response because I’m a Tower blogger or member of the Masters community, but because I’m Jewish. As a Jew, it is my responsibility to recognize that it is essential for us to have a place to go in a time of crisis and that the current interpretation of Zionism—that Jews have such a right to Israel that they can evict Palestinians for the land they want—is a human rights offense. It is our responsibility as Jews to recognize that we can protect ourselves while also valuing the human rights of Palestinians. It is not black and white, and I believe that as a Jew, Logan could have done more to emphasize the rights of Palestinians amidst discussing the importance of the Jewish people in Israel.
In an effort to further the transition of Israel to theocracy, the government took the next step towards full control of Jerusalem and planned eviction of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, preparing to kick multiple Palestinian families out of their homes. I know that Jerusalem is important to Logan, as it is to millions of Jews. But it is not only ours. Palestinians also look to Jerusalem as their Holy City, and all should have a right to it. I felt that Logan sounded blind to his privilege in saying, “I’ve prayed at the Western Wall, slept at a Kibbutz, and proudly walked the streets of Jerusalem chanting Hebrew prayers on Shabbat. Israel is the only place in the world where I feel that my religion has been truly respected and embraced by the majority of the people around me.” Has he considered that Palestinians may feel the same in their Holy City? Unfortunately, many Palestinians are denied the right to visit the city. Logan recognizes Jerusalem as so crucial to Judaism that he neglects the holiness of the city in Islam, which once again portrays the article’s privileged undertones.
Also, we must recognize who the battle is between. Logan says, “Alternatively, failing to condemn Israeli airstrikes on Gaza is a failure to recognize those who are suffering on the Palestinian side; over 50 have been killed, 14 children among them.” The conflict is not between Palestine and Israel—it is between Hamas and the Israeli government. Moreover, the Israeli and Palestinian civilians aren’t on different sides. No one wants to be in a bomb shelter, and many disagree with the values of their leaders.
Logan describes “Free Palestine” as a threat to the existence of a Jewish state and safe haven. But “Free Palestine” only means that Palestinians deserve a state when they have equal rights and freedom from Israel’s denial of their right to citizenship and voting rights. If Logan wants a Jewish state, he should consider the simple asks of Palestinians. When he claims: “saying…‘Free Palestine’ is saying that you don’t value a Jewish state,” he completely misses the mark and doesn’t acknowledge that Palestinians just want equal rights and are not dismissing Judaism in any way.
Logan makes a dangerous connection between antisemitism and criticism of the Israeli government. Logan says, “Some like to argue that criticizing the Israeli government is not the same as hatred against Jews, but in many cases, that is simply not true.” Here, he does not distinguish between condemnation of the Israeli government and antisemitism—one that could not be more important. Criticism towards a right-wing government shouldn’t be discounted because it is the government of a Jewish state. Furthermore, the idea that people are only criticizing Israeli totalitarianism is incorrect, as non-Jewish governments have recently been criticized for similar human rights abuses, such as Colombia and China.
Linking criticism of the Israeli government to antisemitism is not and will never be okay, as it can lead to people blaming Jews for the actions of the Israeli government. Natan Sharansky, who Logan quoted, has suggested denying the right of Palestinians to Israeli land: “Jews are the only people in history who kept their loyalty to their identity and their land throughout the 2,000 years of exile.” Incorporating a quote from an Islamophobe without giving context of the author’s policies is, at best, misleading. How can someone say Palestinians haven’t been loyal to their land when it is annexation by the Israeli government that led to their land loss?
If “Free Palestine” is antisemitic, I am hostile to and prejudiced against not only every member of my synagogue but myself and my family. And that is just not true. Calling people who say “Free Palestine” antisemitic but not labeling people who say “Defend Israel” as Islamophobic represents the exact kind of one-sided condemnation that Logan denounced. In a time of great emotion, we should all reflect on not only our privilege, but the hypocrisy in expecting from others what we cannot do ourselves.