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On the Nose is our biweekly podcast. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.
The Use and Abuse of “Jewish Peoplehood”
Duration
0:00 / 01:10:03
Published
October 8, 2021

We recently published two pieces—“On Loving Jews” by editor-in-chief Arielle Angel and “Reclaiming the Covenant of Fate” by editor-at-large Peter Beinart—investigating what, if anything, Jews owe one another, especially across fundamental political divides such as disputes over Zionism and Palestinian freedom. This episode features two conversations digging deeper into the question of Jewish solidarity. In the first, Angel and Beinart explore the places their pieces overlap and diverge; in the second, Angel speaks with contributing writer Rebecca Pierce about how she thinks about “Jewish peoplehood,” communal obligations, and organizing as a Jew of color.

Articles, Threads, and Films Mentioned:

On Loving Jews” by Arielle Angel

Reclaiming the Covenant of Fate” by Peter Beinart

Listen, My Beloved Knocks” by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik

Raphael Magarik’s letter about “On Loving Jews”

Yair Wallach’s thread on “Jewish peoplehood”

No Man’s Land by Rebecca Pierce

Books Mentioned:

Leviticus: The Book of Holiness by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Thanks to Santiago Helou Quintero for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”


Transcript

Arielle Angel: Hello! Welcome back to On The Nose. We’ve had sort of a long hiatus for summer and for the Jewish holidays, but we’re back today. I’m here with Peter Beinart our editor-at-large. This is Arielle Angel, the editor-in-chief of Jewish Currents. And we’re talking about two pieces that recently were released online. One of them is the response for our new fall 2021 issue, if you’re not subscribed, you’re gonna want to be; it’s a really great one, probably one of my favorite issues that we’ve done since I’ve been doing this. And that’s a piece that I wrote called “Unloving Jews,” which responds a bit to, to some of the criticism that we got, during the May, violence in Israel Palestine, around what we were publishing at the time, and how it doesn’t show Jewish solidarity. And so my piece sort of deals with the question of peoplehood, and how we relate to peoplehood. As it relates to questions of loyalty to the Jewish state and the conflation of those things. And Peter’s recent piece, “Reclaiming the Covenant of Faith,” which takes a starting point, a piece by Rabbi Soloveichik, called “Listen My Beloved Knocks,” and tries to kind of separate... give us a language for understanding what Jews owe each other. Peter, do you want to tell us...start by telling us maybe a little bit about your piece?

Peter Beinart: Sure. I think perhaps someone’s like you have been noticing this tendency on the Jewish right to claim that folks on the Jewish left have abandoned their obligations to other Jews. And I want us to try to wrestle with what those obligations are, and how they can be reconciled with, I think what you and I both agree is this kind of urgent, moral imperative to support Palestinian freedom. And I have a lot of different moments in my life, where, you know, in in my head, where my efforts to find the right to deal with the tensions between those two things, lead me in different places, and I struggle with it a lot at an intellectual and and also emotional level. Because I do think there is value in thinking about the issue of the denial of Palestinian freedom in the light of other moments, historically, that we can perhaps now see where there’s more of a political consensus in retrospect, right, where we would say, the low moral imperative is...freedom and equality for people who are denied it. So therefore, if one were to think about one’s kind of obligations to one’s community, if you’re a white southerner, or white, South African or Protestant in Northern Ireland, in retrospect, we think, you know, what are you talking about? This is, this is this is just injustice, right? I mean, that’s all the other stuff is nonsense, right. And yet, I can’t fully embrace that perspective. Because I don’t think Jews are the equivalent of you know, white southerners or white Jews, Jews are a particular people with their own, that I’m a member of, without, with our own history of persecution. And our survival as a, as a community is, is, is really important to me, and being able to remit to maintain some kind of relationship, even with Jews, whose political views I find really odious, and who’s used for and who find my views really odious is really important to me, perhaps... for reasons that I can’t even fully express. And so the Soloveitchik essay, which was his effort to overcome, or for him was a really profound divide between secular and religious Jews in the 1950s, for me, became something to try to play off of in thinking about this question of what we do and don’t share with one another today.

AA: We were working on these pieces at the same time, and we were talking a bit about behind the scenes sort of working out some of these ideas, both like in editorial conversations around your piece and also in talking through the ideas in my piece, something that you shared with me is that you really believe on a certain level that there really is no Judaism without this kind of imperative to, to love your fellow Jew. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that. And also, we’ve received some responses to my piece and now starting to come in for two years about the development of the idea about how about Israel. So just to give listeners a bit of background, a lot of what we think about is kind of the religious imperative comes from Leviticus: “to love your fellow as yourself.” Which is very broad and is not necessarily directed towards Jews. My Montes later interprets this to mean, loving your fellow who is a fellow in Torah study. So roots, rooting it in a very religious context, which is interesting, because it actually creates boundaries in the sense of saying, actually, if your fellow doesn’t study Torah, or isn’t a fellow in mitzvot, that they are not necessarily bound in the same way. You don’t have to treat a wicked person, as if they are your fellow is one of the interpretations that came up even also with the rush bomb. In the 18th century, Hasidic thinkers pick this up, where love of the Jewish people is, is really kind of just a way of expressing a love of God, because of the covenant between the Jewish people and God, in religious writing. I think something that is interesting, there is the way that...and something that was brought up in a letter from Rafi Magara, who is a frequent contributor of ours, is the way in which that concept has sort of been secularized, especially in a post World War Two context, to essentially mean nationalism, Jewish nationalism. And so I’m just curious to hear you sort of think through that, and how you, where you make those distinctions? And also what you mean, like, if if this is sort of an imperative that’s rooted in, in a religious context, and I know that you are an observant person, but for many of us, that isn’t sort of the the animating way that we engage even in our Jewishness? What does that mean? You know, how are we supposed to engage with this concept?

PB: Yeah, so I don’t necessarily know that I necessarily think about it in terms of loving other Jews, and more just simply in terms of that part of for me, what’s constitutive of being a Jew, is being part of a people with other Jews. And so I guess, you know, for me, this is, you know, these are maybe kind of very elementary statements to make, but the, you know, if you look at Genesis, essentially, the story is of an effort at a universal project that fails, ultimately, conclusively with, you know, with Noah, after Noah...and then becomes a familial project, right? That... with Abraham and....then there’s a series of covenants with the members of that family, and then in and, and, and I think there are stories that are, that, as I read them are about the the the obligations, the imperatives of, of the obligations that exist within that family, and then that family becomes a people in, in the book of Exodus, and then that people creates a covenant with God. And, and in a way one could argue, and I think that’s actually what Soloveichik suggesting he distinguishes the covenant of faith, the common thread in Egypt, and then the covenant of destiny. Which is the covenant with God at Sinai, that actually, the covenant of faith, the sense of Jewish kind of familialness and responsibility for one another actually precedes even the covenant with God, at least the national covenant with God, which is established at Sinai, and then reaffirmed by Moses in Deuteronomy, and then reaffirmed it other times later in the Hebrew Bible. So So for me, it’s funny in some ways to hear people say, well, Jewish people who doesn’t make sense to me if I’m secular, because I actually think that it’s precisely that secular Jewishness itself seems to me in large guard depends on a notion of people who have which can be separated from, from religious observance, because Judaism is not a religion like Islam or Christianity, which had, which has the same kind of universal in Judaism is all about the tension between the the, the the national, the, the, the collective, the, the, the particular the people and it and some universal vision.

AA: I think it’s interesting that Soloveichik says this. But also it’s interesting when he’s saying this right and like, and for what purpose like he’s, he’s locating a covenant of fate in Egypt and saying this came first. This is the kind of part of the original principle. But he’s doing it at the moment of the founding of the State of Israel in order to say, This is why, you know, you religious people need to support Israel, even as a secularized state. Right. I mean, like, it’s no surprise that this kind of interpretation appears where it does. When it does.

PB: Yes, although he’s also looking back to the Holocaust, and the profound internal divisions that existed in Europe among Jews, and some sense that you know, that perhaps his flock of Orthodox Jews didn’t necessarily honor those obligations as much. So I think you’re right, I think he’s looking back and forth. In “Listen, My Beloved Knocks,” Soloveichik Zionism is very aggressive, and and pretty disturbing. What’s interesting is, again, this is a sidebar, but there are other moments where his.... he seems to question the whole project in some pretty profound ways. But yes, in this moment, “Listen, My Beloved Knocks,” is very much a Zionist document.

AA: Yeah, I mean, I just, I don’t know. I mean, I found Raffi’s critique very... very interesting. I mean, Rafi draws a distinction that I’m not actually sure that I agree with whether whether there’s a difference between being obligated to love Jews as a collective and being obligated to love Jews individually, like that, actually, whether we’re actually talking about smaller units of relation, and especially once you get into like, in a religious sense. Because like, I think, in the religious sense, we already have a situation where there’s sort of a conditionality. And so, you know, because this, this principle seems to only apply at least religiously for religious people. And then, of course, later, it gets reinterpreted, there is at least some kind of precedent in here for it being conditional, and therefore, for it being reserved for smaller groups of people. And we do see that, you know, I think your Wallach also had a very good thread on this, thinking about the ways that it has been applied, you know, in the contemporary sense, that this kind of Solidarity was was very rarely extended to Jews outside of the norm. So like, Miss Rafi and Ethiopian Jews to leftist Jews. You know, certainly this wasn’t something being practiced by, like, major Jewish organizations towards communist Jews in the, you know, during McCarthyism, and so like, there is a sense that this is always selectively applied, and particularly selectively applied by sort of like a dominant and powerful group within Jewishness. And so, I don’t know, like, what is the I mean, I know that your piece is trying to exhort this kind of establishment to do better and to basically apply this principle as as, as you feel that it should be applied, although, like I said, inherent in this idea is the idea of limitations of who it applies to. And, you know, I’m not sure I mean, I don’t know if you’ve heard anything from after your peace, but with my peace, for example, the response from the right was, you know, the same as as it always is, which is like you’re a self hater and get out.

PB: Yeah, I mean, I haven’t heard yet just part of us with a piece dropped just before the kind of holiday started. I’m just reemerging. I guess for me, I mean, I just think about it. I guess I got to think about a couple things. I mean, first of all, I think about the real...you know, I obviously I think you and I goes without saying we don’t believe that Jews are, you know, in a kind of 1930 style moment. Yet there are Jews who are more vulnerable than others. And I am very aware that...some of those Jews who may be more vulnerable, are Jews with whom we really would not share much in terms of a moral perspective. Right. Well, so I think partly, I just think about that, that, you know, that, that I also think in terms of, you know, I really I struggle myself a lot with .... a set of political sensitivity, let’s say, American orthodoxy, American Orthodox Judaism, which believes that really politically it’s a force for tremendous injustice, both in the United States, both in Israel and the United States. And yet I actually also believe it embodies certain values and traditions that I think are immensely valuable. And.... I from which I think Jonathan Sacks, talks about Judaism speaking in various different voices, one of which he calls a kind of prophetic voice, and one of which he calls a priestly voice. And I think Orthodox Judaism speaks more in what he would call a priestly voice, which is an emphasis on, on the importance of ritual, unchanging ritual dedication to very, very minut specific things. And that liberal Jews embody more of the prophetic voice a kind of a question of like, what are our moral obligations now, today? And to what degree it is, Can Judaism be useful in that question? And I think that too, I think the conversation between the two is really can could be valuable. Maybe that’s an idealized vision. But I feel like in my own life, I’ve I’ve at least at times felt like, I saw the value of that interaction. And that was partly what motivated the piece.

AA: I would agree that there’s a value to the interaction. I do feel that there is a way to show solidarity with Orthodox Jews, that actually doesn’t require that much interaction with them on some level. I mean, mostly because there are structural solutions that have to do with, that have to do with economic solutions to things like advocating for mental health care for all kinds of things that that relate to anti-semitic attacks that we’ve seen, for example, in in New York City, that might not require us to, you know, like, I think it would be nice, like you give the example of JVP going to help an orthodox synagogue clean up glass, like, I think that sounds really nice. But on the level of like stopping attacks, or making attacks, less frequent, I think we would agree that that’s just sort of a gesture, as opposed to the kind of work that, that like a deep look at the causes of, of anti-semitism as they’re expressed, might yield. So in the ways that Jewish community has actually traditionally worked on these kinds of anti-semitic issues has been usually as we both know, in the service of, of sort of a Zionist worldview, and also in the service of keeping their own organizations going and, you know, kind of using this as a fundraising effort, like, I’m not actually sure that working together with these communities, makes a lot of sense. Because there’s a real different interpretation of what’s actually happening here and what it would mean to fix it, there’s actually I really want to actually like shift into like thinking about pluralistic space, because I do agree with you that secular Jews, many of whom are getting more interested in Judaism, and more interested in ritual, like actually don’t have a place to go on a certain level, and there isn’t resources for them to do their own thing. Like, I think a lot of my friends who are having kids and want to send them to Jewish Day School, for example, like, really don’t have an option for a Jewish Day School that’s going to, you know, give their children a Jewish education without, you know, kind of pumping them full of a specific, insidious form of, of Jewish nationalism. And I think it would be good to have spaces that kind of agree to say, like, this is off the table, on some level, where, where, like people from who share those views, that’s sort of something that they have at home, but that that’s not something that’s in in a Jewish space. And you do kind of allude to a space like that in your piece you talk about, you know, if there’s violence then and the Jewish Federation invites, you know, anti Zionist Jews to join, they can join, but then they’re inviting them into a space that’s neither Zionist or anti Zionist. And I think that sounds interesting. I just wonder if you think that’s actually ever going to happen?

PB: I... think we’re, we’re quite far away from it now, because Zion, you know, political Zionism. I say, political Zionism, because I think of cultural Zionism, which allows, you know, which could exist, you know, which could coincide with one equal state, which is something I feel more drawn to, I think is, is, is something somewhat different. But I think it would be, you know, since since the political Zionism has been largely the glue kind of central to what, to what is, you know, to the, to the Jewish American Jewish establishment? It would it would be, it would be a dramatic change. And I don’t think we’re close to there. But I do think that the, the costs of not making that transition... will grow because...I think what we’re, what we’re clearly seeing is people moving from a kind of liberal Zionist position, democratic and Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state, for a variety of reasons moving to at least an openness to the idea of one equal state that doesn’t privilege Jews at all. And so I think that the number of people out there, including people who really want various things from Jewish institutions, who will be outside of these boundaries is like really to grow? And I think your example of schools is a really is a really good one and interesting one, I mean, because it’s Jewish day schools are really difficult because, you know, to make function and from the, you know, for them to be decent, you know, and it would be even if one wanted to create anti Zionist Jewish schools, full time Jewish school.

AA: No, it’d be very, very difficult.

PB: Very, very difficult, right? And so, realistically, if you were an anti Zionist who wanted to send your child to a full time Jewish school, you wanted that level of intensity of Jewish Studies, for instance, you know, I, and ironically, unless you were Satmar, right, if you were Satmar, you would have access? You, you would really, that you would really need what would essentially be a non Zionist Jewish school, right? Because just in terms of finding the numbers of people, you have to bring Zionist anti Zionist Jews together. And I don’t know that there is any such institution out there, I’m not aware of one, you know?

AA: I don’t think there is, and I agree with you, that’s the most compelling, that’s why I mentioned it, I mean, it really is the most compelling situation that it would be necessary to have. But again, like, I mean, just just responding in terms of like the response to my piece, which obviously was very different from your piece, it’s not, it’s it’s way more skeptical of the idea of Jewish peoplehood in the end, like a kind of obligation, and it’s and, and, and way more focused on the difficulties or the dangers of of adopting that position. But it does end up in a place where I feel like I have to begrudgingly acknowledge that Jewishness is being defined by this Jewish majority and, and that the conflation with Jewishness, and Zionism is being defined by the Jewish majority. And if I want to remain Jewish in the way that I conceive of it, or if that remains important to me, I have to fight on this terrain, there’s no option for me, and takes it so it ends up in a place where peoplehood is sort of more like a family in something that doesn’t feel optional in this very material and practical sense. And for me, that that really tried to really try to engage on the terrain of the argument that people like for example, ....Shalom Hartman are having. And again, like, I don’t, I don’t feel like I got any meaningful...In fact, the opposite. I got a lot of vitriol from the usual suspects...and the usual suspects meaning liberal Zionists. So,so, you know, in terms of like my optimism level, about...I mean, like, I worry, for example, about your piece really sounding in that context, like a bit of like, can’t we all just get along? And the answer being kind of like, well, no. You know?

PB: Yeah, I guess I mean, I guess you may well be right. I mean, my my hope was, I would like to see places where we could, “all get along” in doing certain kinds of things that I think would be valuable to all of us that are kind of spaces that are that are kind of refuges from the Israel debate, not because the Israel debate isn’t, isn’t essential, I think, certainly both agree it’s essential, but I think that there are, there are values. And I think some of those have to do in this in the, you know, have to do in the realm of Jewish education, for instance. Some of them may have to do with communal responsibilities to the Jewish, elderly, or the Jewish poor. And, and I agree with you that I think that the response from, you know, Jews to the right, is likely to be is likely to be very negative. But I think that it’s ultimately, I think it’s the you know...what I think what I think is interesting is that, in my experience, most Jews who are on the left who identify themselves as anti Zionist, don’t actually speak in a purely universal language they like like you and your piece, they are drawn to some claim that they they have a particular stake here that they have some particular stake in this in this issue. I mean, that’s, I think, why so many that focus on on the injustice in Israel, Palestine, as opposed to so many other parts of the world, you know, where there’s profound injustice taking place as well. And so I think that in some ways, even if we even if I’m often struck by how few Jews there are, I noticed the speak in a purely in a purely universic language, as if to say that their role as Jews there in measurement in Jewish peoplehood is irrelevant to, to their the equity they feel this issue.

AA: I think you might not know, you know, like, I think some of those Jews, people who are Jewish, who are not expressing themselves in that way, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to identify them as such. I mean, like, I think there’s a lot of people who are on the in, you know, who are involved in Palestinian solidarity who don’t do that work as Jews. I mean, you happen to know a lot of people, obviously, who do do that work as Jews. And I think that that, you know, there’s a lot of reasons why that is, I think that also has to do with sort of a rise of identity politics, and and, you know, Trump and like some of the ways that 2014 and if not now, and all of these different, there’s a whole constellation of reasons why some of that work looks more particularistic than it did. But obviously, there are real questions, you know, as it relates to Palestinians about whether that’s the right way to do that work, like, what does it mean, you know, I think like, probably some people are reading your piece and thinking, what does it mean, for Palestinians, for Peter Beinart, for example, to like, kind of invest the way he does in these kinds of relationships with people who don’t think that they’re real, or like think that they should be wiped off the map or whatever, you know?

PB: Sure. I guess I would say a couple of things. I mean, it was it. First of all, I mean, you know, I can’t speak for Palestinians but in my, I just personally have never, I’ve never heard in, among policies that I talked to, I’ve never heard, for instance, anyone say, you know, we wish Jewish Voice for Peace, weren’t any explicitly Jewish group. Right. To the contrary, what I hear again, and again, and again, particularly about JVP, is they’re a crucial elements of the effort that we’re, you know, maybe that’s just for real politic reasons, right, because they understand the way Jewish is used. So, I mean, look, in terms of the question of I mean, I guess I would say, because I see there as being kind of immense value in certain religiously, and in terms of Jewish education and practice in, in, in certain ...areas of the Jewish community, where, where the political views tend to lean very differently than my own. I feel like the cost of imposing a political litmus test on...my you know, my religious life would be would be very, very severe now, and I think that, you know, maybe there might be people who take, who take a very dim view of that. But I think, my view, if I think about, you know, some of any religious persuasion, I’m, you know, sympathetic to the idea that they...that they’re really fundamentally morally responsible for, the the political attitudes that they express in the world. And I also think, and I tried to suggest in my piece that it’s not as if when I’m, when I’m writing and trying to make arguments for policy, refugee return or other things. I’m not also writing to the people I go to synagogue with, I’m very much hoping they’re going to read those things, not like I am, I wouldn’t like I’m not trying to convince them to, it’s just that I actually, I actually think I’ve got a better chance of convincing them if I also, if I also accept, and I have to believe that there are spheres of life that are separate from that as well. I think I’d be interested to know what ...you were saying that you were frustrated by the response from people who were kind of to your right to your your piece, but I’m also but your piece actually also does end up in a place where by the end, you get to this sense that you actually you do feel this sense of connection, you talk about how you know, you do feel maybe a little bit of regret that you weren’t in touch with relatives who were in Israel during this period. And I wondered if you have gotten blowback from the left to your piece, in addition to blowback from that from the right?

AA: I think it’s different because the left doesn’t have kind of like institutional power, like, like, yeah, like, I’ve gotten some comments, but it’s more from like, people on Twitter, like random people on Twitter, I do think that there is there are some people who I heard from, who do like Palestinian solidarity stuff, who feel like any engagement with these kinds of issues is just signals that what we’re really trying to do is curry favor with like a liberal Zionist establishment. I mean, I have news for them, obviously, that this really isn’t the way to do it. Yeah, I mean, I think it was, it was very frustrating to engage in the... paradigm of peoplehood. And to emerge on the other side with the very same people who advocate peoplehood saying, “you’re out.” You know, it’s very ironic at the end of the day, and I think, like, speaks to some of what you’re talking about in your piece, you know. And, like, to the question of like, where we actually are in relationship to, to your vision and your suggestions.

PB: Yeah, I mean, I think that we are, I mean, I think that we are moving more and more. I think that I think that the... different kinds of Jewish communities that exist, I think are moving further and further away from one another. And I think that we have a, you know, I my sense is that on the, on the Jewish, right, that discourse will become more and more orthodox, dominated, and will consist, you know, and, and, you know, people tend to, you know, and especially, I mean, there’s their ton, there’s so many young Orthodox people, that I think that there’ll be plenty of people plenty of resources to, to sustain institutions that speak within a certain communal discourse that feels even more alien to other young people, then, you know, then the differences between, you know, baby boomers who are on the right and the left, I think the gap, the chasm is greater among younger people. And, and that’s one of the things that I that I worry about, I worry about how that will, I’m going to worry about the discourse is so ugly now, I worry about it becoming even worse. I mean, certainly we’ve seen with Trump in the US discourse that every time you think things have reached rock bottom, they can they can go lower.

AA: They can always get worse. Yeah, yeah. On that note...thanks, Peter, for your first appearance on the On The Nose podcast.

PB: I’m honored.

AA: I’m AA:editor-in-chief of Jewish Currents, and I’m hosting today’s episode. I’m here with one of our contributing writers, Rebecca Pierce. Today, we were going to talk a bit about the responses for the fall 2021 issue. It’s actually one of my favorite issues that I’ve put out to date. Everybody is on the staff is really proud of it and really excited for all of you to read it after the huge supply chain issues are taken care of, and it can actually get printed and out there to you. But either way, if you haven’t subscribed, you haven’t missed it yet. Please, subscribe. The peace is the sponsor for the new issue, which is our sort of staff editorial column. It’s a piece written by me, called “On Loving Jews.” A little shout out to Andrea Long Chu “On Liking Women.” So sort of just for her and me, I guess. And the piece is a response to some of the critiques that we got during the violence in May in Israel Palestine, and specifically that we weren’t that, in publishing certain pieces, and particularly pieces by Palestinians that that, that encouraged resistance, or, or that alleged genocide, we were not practicing Jewish solidarity, that we weren’t showing enough concern for people in Israel, our fellow Jews in Israel who were under rocket attack. There’s a lot of stuff in the piece. I don’t want to talk too much about it, I think we’ll probably parts of it will come up in this conversation. But I was really struck by one of the responses that I got to this piece, which is from Rebecca, which is really about the very specific way in which Jews of color and particularly Jews of color on the left, not only deal with these particular kinds of exhortations to Jewish solidarity, as a means of...not as a means of sort of bringing people in, but actually as a way of keeping people out. And so I just wanted to start there and ask you to recreate sort of what you said to me initially.

Rebecca Pierce: Yeah. So one of the things that really struck me in the piece, in your response to the piece, was this comment you made like why work things out, if you can just leave in an atomized society, the ability to opt out is the greatest barrier to restore justice. And I think like throughout my experience for organizing Jews of color on the left, that’s been a constant question of, you know, this, this idea of do we opt out or do we stay in and try to fight and push for these spaces? To like actually live up to the sort of anti racism that’s invoked a lot of the time? And this was especially something that we were grappling with when I was working in the early days of the Jews of color or JOCSM Caucus, Jewish Voice for Peace, which came about from, you know, first of all, an extremely broad coalition of people with a lot of different identities. That’s why we have this unwieldy acronym Jews of Color, Sephardi Mizrahi, right? But people would have this experience of exclusion and racism within the organization, whether it be in the form of like sort of Asha-normativity, or this kind of like, sometimes like white ally ship/white savior model of organizing that was being pushed. And like this question of racial justice being framed as like, “how do we show up for other people?” And not like, “what are we doing in terms of our own organizing, and the people who are people of color in this organization?” And so there was constantly this question of like, do we form our own group and leave? Totally? Do we stay within JVP and try to fight? If we do that, how do we maintain our own goals and priorities within this, like larger structure? And I think what, what our solutions are, at the time was like this kind of semi autonomous sort of group where we were like, we’re leading our own agenda, but we’re also within JVP. But we’re also not. And that led...that was like a complicated place. And it’s part of why we don’t really have that group anymore. There’s no people who are sort of more bought in fully to JVP, who were like leading the Jews of color organizing there, which probably makes sense. But I think this question of like, you know, do you even want to sit at the table? And like, what at the table is worth changing and trying to save or trying to engage with, was just something that hit really close to home for me when reading your piece. And I know that this was something that we were trying to do parallel to like the, the questions you’re asking the piece, which are about Palestine Solidarity. It’s like we’re trying to be in solidarity Palestinians in this Palestine Solidarity space. But also be in solidarity with ourselves in our communities, and point to the things that are frankly, missing in a lot of these conversations from the left, and sometimes even like our communities, or the communities that we’re also trying to show up with in terms of, you know, non white Jewish people. In places like Israel, sometimes there are like these really interesting sticking points that point to the direct connections between these two issues.

AA: Yeah, there’s a lot of what you just said, I feel like we could go a lot of different directions. I mean, I think I want to like first, like, say that I think it’s really interesting that that the first place that you went with this was actually in thinking about context on the left, where you’re sort of like, do I do we want to stay in left Jewish community? It’s like, there’s which is really interesting, because I think we’re like, thinking about this or like, the broader way that this has been discussed as in like, in terms of being in a broader Jewish community, like, also like, including people who we really disagree with fundamentally on, on politics. And certainly like, you know, I just spoke to Peter Beinart. Like that’s also a way that he thinks about this, which is interesting. And there’s also a particular way that Jews of color have been sort of held up in that context, as kind of like models of exclusion. Both by saying you’re sort of like, you know, shitting all over the covenant of Israel of love and fellow Jews, but also by saying, like, you’re not Jewish, so we don’t have to engage with you at all, you know? And...but I think... I think it’s like, I just wanted to, like say that for people who may be listening, who aren’t familiar with that, but I also think it’s really interesting to think about how we think about these questions in like, much smaller groups, right? Like in groups that we’re actually opting into? Does it make sense to do Jewish organizing at all, as a Jew of color, for example, that might have intersecting oppressions that like, may feel more urgent or may feel... Yeah, like, why...why do Jewish organizing?

RP: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. I think there’s like, again, there’s like a couple different tracks and directions, you can go with this. And to your point about, you know, even raising the question of like racism in Jewish spaces, you do get this response of like, so you think all Jews are like nasty, racist, white people? Why even deal with us at all? You know, I’ve personally have had my identity attacked over and over and over again, by people who claim I don’t have like, Ahavas Israel, which is like, really funny, because where’s that love for me? When I’m like, part of this community, right?

You can’t ask me, even though my opinion, critique and like, is a form of engagement as a form of like love in a lot of ways when it’s coming...was directed at a community I’m part of. But to demand this, like, constantly prove to me that you love other Jews, while people are like, you know, on one hand, denying my Jewish identity, on the other hand, advocating against Black Lives Matter and organizing that’s like meant to keep people like me safe, right? There’s definitely a kind of deep hypocrisy in that. And then the question of like, why keep doing Jewish organizing is for me, it’s like, yes, obviously, I will continue to do that because being Jewish is part of who I am. And a very important part, it’s part of why I’m an organizer to begin with. I’m like, you know, personally doing all this family research stuff and it turns out for my family has been doing way too much organizing for as far back as we can, like, find anyone in our family And that includes back to the old country, back to Lithuania when people are like in socialist organizing and labor organizing. So for me, it’s just like hardwired into who I am and will always will be. And coming from, you know, the black side of my family as well, the question of like, what do you do in a Jewish space where, you know, exclusion is kind of the norm and people’s perception is that, first of all, you don’t belong on a basic level? And then when you try to push back on that lack of belonging, it’s like, well, why are you in here? That’s, that’s a tough question. And for me, it’s been one that’s been, you know, an issue. It started out in a lot of like, left-organizing, but it’s also in places like my synagogue, you know? A few years ago - I go to a very mainstream reformed Jewish synagogue - and like, few years ago, there was a speaker who was brought who was like the son of the former rabbi. And he gave this talk about how like Black Lives Matter is like sending people to Gaza to pledge allegiance to Hamas, like saying all this stuff. Like you’re scaring the old leaves in the shore, like a bunch of nonsense. And I’m, like, sitting there, like, you know, how do I go, like, after service dinner with these people, and like, have a conversation about this talk that was just given that a bunch of people stood up and applauded for, that basically accuse anyone who’s trying to like, you know, stop police violence of hating Jews.

AA: Right. So what, what did you do?

RP: I went to dinner, and we talked about it. And it was, it was a hard conversation, but it ended up being sort of easier than I thought, because people, it was emotionally hard to be like, what did you all think it was just said, Here’s what I thought about what was just said, and I’m the only black person at that table. And also, the only, in this particular situation, only young person. But the response was actually when people heard my feelings of how that had made me feel, and how I was like having a hard time not crying, like, [unintelligible], people were actually really moved by that and really willing to listen and hear me. And for me, part of the, you know, it’s a different game. Or, you know, trying to push back on harmful ideas in the synagogue versus like, working in JVP, or some space like that. But what does keep me going is that there is receptiveness to this. And when you kind of like slow down and pare through all the kind of internet-y like ways that we trigger each other, and just be like, I’m someone in your community, and this is how this affected me - I’ve noticed that, that is actually like, a space for a lot of growth. And people can say, actually, kind of radical things, or things that would be considered radical in the online sphere. But if you’re talking about it, in a matter of fact way, giving examples to people, you know, all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, we’re just like, having a Jewish conversation. And I think that, that the idea that we actually are people who disagree, and that being, you know, space for that being made, is sort of like where you have the room to kind of grow and push the community and where that act of love of arguing comes in.

AA: Well, so I have a...I have a question there. I mean, I hope this isn’t like offensive, but there are like some ways, actually, where... you’re where you’re like, even I mean, I think in this very narrow way, I have a similar feeling to Peter, which is that like you should, which is that there is a value to engaging. You know, I sort of wonder, you know, like, again, you’re engaging with people who may have considered themselves for example, to be like, anti Black Lives Matter, because they’re in your synagogue. Because you know, and I think like that’s kind of in some ways, like Peter’s experience, like he goes to synagogue with all these people who believe things that he thinks are horrible, and he tries to find a way to speak to them on their terms. I mean, I think you didn’t say that, I think I heard you saying like, I tried to speak to them on my terms, and that, that’s the best way that I find to, to speak to them. But, but similar similar concepts, I sort of wonder if you think about that, kind of as, like a practical thing as like a practical necessity... or whether you do think in terms of peoplehood, like where where that paradigm shows up for you. Or if it does?

RP: I mean, I think I tend to use like Jewish peoplehood as like a shorthand kind of, in a way, for like a much deeper set of relationships that are really hard to quantify and, like, make exact. And I can’t speak to like, you know, what Peter’s frame of reference is but I can, you know, like, excuse my own context, which is that like, I want to be in these spaces, I want to go for the basic necessity, like being Jewish. I want to be able to go to Shabbat service and pray. Or like study Torah, or you know, go to a Purim Spiel or whatever. I need that in my life personally, and I prefer to do it in a way that is like my family’s like, not tradition and...feels very hokey, especially when talked about like Reformed Judaism, but like, the way that my family taught me how to do it. And so for me, that’s like a space that I need to be in regardless, you know, of course, I could go find the Jews of color anti Zionist minion. And sometimes I do that. But, I think for me like this idea of peoplehood I mean it is it is kind of a real thing in terms of like, I feel responsible to other Jewish people and I feel the Jewish people who I’m in relationship to, like have some responsibility for me. I’m of course Jewish in a very different way than a lot of other people. And like what the exact connection is, can get fuzzy. It’s like, what is my relationship, for example, with like, someone like, for example, who’s like, Orthodox Jewish, and I don’t even consider like a patrilineal person Jewish. That might be...That’s kind of like a question at first, but then you get to know people and actually have tremendous relationships across even these lines. So I find that like, it’s, it’s also something that I wrestle with, too, because like, for, like, the similar reasons that you’re talking about in your piece of like, what is it that bond’s me, for example, to a settler? Or to like this... I remember I was on a trip to Israel and Palestine, we met with the spokesman of the Jewish community in Hebron. He’s an...a settler extremist, and that was in a group full of like Black people. I think we broke him actually, that day, that was crazy meeting. And I like sit down, like, me and him are the only Jews in the room. And like, there’s all these Black folks who had spent the night in the Haitian refugee camp the night before. So people were like, very triggered by that experience. No one has slept well. We’re meeting all these kids who have been imprisoned over nothing. And then the next day, we’re meeting this American Jewish guy who grew up in like New Jersey, who like, is talking about literally like, using the terminology of cowboys and Indians out there. And I’m like, how do I connect? Do I need to connect to this guy? What is like, what is the conversation me and him need to be having? And I end up asking him this question of like, you know, you and I are both American Jews. And like, because he’s from Jersey, like, straight up, that’s his accent - he, I speak Hebrew almost better than he did at that point. It was like very weird scene, interaction. And like, I asked him growing up in United States, we’re often taught that, like, pluralism is what protects, protects us as Jewish people from like, harm from like, you know, communities that in the past would have driven us out. Like, this American ideal of pluralism is flawed as it is, is something that’s like really hyped up as something that we need. And yet here you are living in this place, you know, on Palestinian land, sort of saying the only time a Palestinian can live next to us, if they’re acting in servitude towards you like that was like term terminology and like, the sort of power dynamic he kept invoking, like, how do you go from this situation to that situation? And it was this kind of crazy moment, we’re both kind of like looking at each other and trying to like...because I don’t think he expected that, in a Black group, to get that kind of question. And he didn’t really didn’t have an answer. He starts talking about Abraham, and like, this land was promised to us and da da da da. And that kind of raises question like what do I have in common with this person? Are we like, we’re the same people, obviously. But like, he’s rejected everything that I think of when I conceptualized who Jews are, especially in the in the United States. And I don’t have an easy answer for that. So it’s like, it’s a both and kind of a situation of like, I think you kind of get it this, maybe it’s in the struggle that we find these bonds, you know?

AA: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think that I have anything that I owe that person, anything. I really do feel that way.

RP: I don’t think I owe him anything, I think I owe the world an engagement of who he... of what he does, when he says he’s a Jew.

AA: I agree with that, that we sort of like, we have to engage with it. Like we may not owe this person anything, but we, we have to engage with, with what he represents and what it means. Because it does mean something to our Judaism that he exists, which is is definitely something that I, I come to in the piece. But I think that there are also like relationships that are sort of on a spectrum. Like I am sort of interested in this idea that it may be possible to show solidarity in different ways. And to like something that I talked about with Peter is that solidarity with Jews, in a religious sense, was always conditional. Like it was only between Jews who were all Torah observant, you know? So like, even in the original kind of religious sense, it wasn’t like, you were supposed to have solidarity for everyone who was born a Jew or something. It was contingent on behavior. And so like, I do, kind of think about what it might mean to think about building Jewish community. As opposed to the idea of like this broad kind of nationalistic form of, of Jewish solidarity or Rabat Israel. Like, what if it’s actually more about thinking about an obligation to build a Jewish community that, that could potentially be conditional? Like, I don’t know, you know, like, do we lose something major? I don’t know. I mean, obviously, that goes against some of some of what I wrote in the piece, which emphasizes the element of, of non choice in all of this as you read in the beginning.

RP: Or I think it’s also questions like, What is solidarity mean? Like, what do you mean, when you say that? For me... or like love of people, for me, that’s never been about unconditional support for everything you do. When you love someone, and they’re engaging in like, harmful behavior, that hurts themselves and others, I don’t think it’s really an act of love to say, “everything you do is perfect, and I’m gonna not only support you, morally, I’m gonna, like, pay for it with my community funds or whatever.” I think that... you know...for me, it’s about like, like I was kind of saying earlier, it’s about finding a way to engage. Sometimes engaging is also like seeing everything a person’s doing and cutting yourself off from them. Sometimes it’s like, trying to do some deeper work of understanding. Like when you talk about, like Israel, for example, when this was brought up in response to your piece of like, not being in solidarity with Jewish people, like living in the in rocket range, and all of this... many of these responses that you were getting, one thing that I was thinking about is like I am part of like the work that we were doing in the in the JOCSM caucus, and part of my own life and filmmaking and other things I’ve been really trying to engage with, like Jews of color communities in Israel. That does not mean that I support every single thing that a Jew of color does. But it does mean that I like to at least try to understand it. So like when you see that there’s like a ton of Ethiopian Israelis, for example, in very visible combat roles in the military, I’m not gonna like sit by and say, That’s good, because Black people are doing it. But I want to understand the social conditions that lead up to that. And when you do that, you see a lot of like... there are a lot of systemic issues behind that. There’s a reason that like the highest majority of like, people incarcerated in military prisons are Black and Israel right now. Or that the communities that actually are in rocket range are like former transit camps, where Mizrahi people were being held, or development towns where like, you have like a lot of young post Soviet [unintelligible], Ethiopian and just various, like, people who are, in many ways...you know, part of the Israeli society in the way Palestinians cannot be, but are also like, excluded and discriminated against. So like, my like, love in that case, is not in the form of saying everything someone from those communities does is right. It’s about like, trying to understand that the forces at play and like, also the role of Americans in upholding like, the systemic issues, right? And, you know, I think when we’re talking about the Jewish community more broadly, you know, I, for me, it’s like, I don’t love everything that a lot of these like, mainstream Jewish institutions do. In some cases is strictly harmful to me as a person of color when you’re talking about like, you know, the way that, you know, police are collaborated with and like, militarization in our synagogues and other places is being promoted. But I have to understand it, and I have to engage and I like, have to, like, you know, come some sort of terms with like, what is my role and responsibility there? And I think that that’s a more sort of complicated expression of love than just like, “Okay, do whatever you want Israel, we’re gonna like, advocate for you, no matter what.” Which is, I think what some people want love to be, but I don’t think that that’s what love is, ultimately.

AA: Yeah, I mean, I was gonna ask about this. So I’m glad that you brought it up, because I know you brought it up at the beginning as well. I mean, this is something that we have in common, also, which is, you know, like, I also struggle a lot with thinking about what it means as a Saphardi Mizrahi person to, like, be with or like, to spend time with my people, you know, “because it’s really hard.” Like, I mean, I’ll just share that the last time that I was with, like, people who I consider family, my very close, Mizrahi community, it ended in tears for me. And it was very disturbing, you know, some of the terms of the argument. And these are people who I love, saying some of the most heinous things, as it regards Palestinians that, that I can imagine being said. I think it’s really tough because, and of course, like, rocky communities and Ethiopian communities have really been sort of co-opted by a kind of Jewish nationalist narrative similar to Jewish peoplehood. As...a means of making it seem as though people should be grateful for being brought to Israel, and also for being “integrated into the, into the Jewish state” - although, of course, many of them have, have really never been integrated and never afforded the same kind of opportunities as a white Ashkenazi Jews in that system. And I just sort of both wonder about, paradoxically what it might look for them to feel a little less kind of national solidarity and a little more almost like group solidarity. Or like, a way to separate sort of like the, the individual or particulars narrative, in their case, from the nationalist narrative. I’m not saying...obviously, like, there are ways that both of those narratives have been co-opted. So it’s, they’ve been kind of like, seamlessly integrated. But I don’t know, it’s still really, really hard for me to pick apart what it means in this in this moment. Like, I think on a really basic level, as I said, like, the co-optation is so strong to a broader kind of people who narrative that like accessing it in order to like, break it apart, seems like a very smart move, and also, like, a very difficult thing to do.

RP: I think it is kind of difficult, and I don’t think it can be totally done from an outside perspective, right, like, there are always have been dissenting voices, and all of these communities that point to a whole host of issues. And like, I think a big part of my work has been to try and find and support those voices on their terms. Like when we’re talking about, like, you know, showing solidarity to like, Mizrahi struggle, it’s been finding the voices that there’s work for me to do it. And that’s people, you know, in places like South Tel Aviv, who are organizing, like, against, for example, the anti African racism, and the gentrification, and gentrification, those things are happening hand in hand. So it’s not me coming from the outside and posing an agenda. It’s like people are already doing that work. And we’re talking about like the Ethiopian Israeli Black Lives Matter protests from years ago. You know, there were a lot of people who really wanted American Jews to stick up for them, because we were such a big part - and very few American Jews know this - in the sort of like savior narrative, a lot of American Jews advocated for the bringing of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, and then completely dropped off of paying attention to that community once they were there. And a lot of people were like, you were there, when you could vote, like you would be our saviors, but you forgot about us when, like, you know, Israel became like the, the power that we were being subjected to, right? And like there’s talking to those people over the past year. There’s a lot more critique of militarism, and their relationship to racism than I think is happening in like English, for example. But it’s also a very divided community when it comes to that. And there’s a lot of also really like, right wing forces, so you can’t speak of that community and just one voice. But like, what I’ve found over time is that like, the, the most powerful thing we have is our relationships with each other. And like, I’m not gonna go in and like convince people be pro Palestinian. But if you sit in a conversation with people long enough, you’ll hear the seeds of like, cooperation, potential cooperation, and like solidarity that I think people assume just doesn’t exist. And so for me, it’s like, having like this Black Jewish identity, and in particular brings me into conversation with like, a lot of these different communities on different terms. And like, you know, when I did my documentary on the Israeli Black Panther movement, like that was my end, you know, and it’s this kind of like, and when I’m working with Palestinians, like, that’s the basis of our relationship, it’s not just that I’m a Jew in Solidaire, Palestine - it’s like, I’m also a Black person, and we have another set of historic relationships to work from. And so I think like, if Jewish peoplehood is to mean anything, it’s about relationships, whether on a personal or community level. And that’s, of course fraught, and it’s, you know, conflict is going to be part of it. And I think necessarily is part of it. Because part of like, love is, yeah, it’s finding, you know, it’s arguing, it’s accountability. It’s like, sometimes it’s walking away, when that’s all you can do. But there’s a lot of steps in between, you know, here and there. And like, what you walk away from, what doors you leave open is up to you. But yeah, for me, it really just comes down to our relationships.

AA: I wonder, like, where were you personally? I mean, this is kind of a hard question, and I don’t think I necessarily have an answer. Like thinking about, for example, you know, the last argument I had with some [unintelligible] and how hard that was, like, you know, that’s not the end of my relationship with those people - it’s impossible to end those relationships. It does strain those relationships very significantly. And I wonder and also, like, I wonder about, I mean, obviously, like, I don’t think that there’s some, there are very high stakes. Like for the conflict in my personal relationships, it’s not like that is going to directly transform the situation on the ground for Palestinians. But I do wonder like, where the line is, you know, and where the line is for you? Like, are there...like, when, when does it make sense to walk away?

RP: I mean, there’s definitely been times that I’ve done it. You know, I was I remember, I was in a competition with a Mizrahi anti Zionist, and she said some really anti Black things about Black men being rapists. Like, oh, the people who hate them in South Tel Aviv kind of have a point because like, Black men are dangerous. And I walked away from that situation. I’m not going to be like... there’s like a limit, right? And it’s subjective. And it’s like, there may be other times, maybe on a day that hadn’t been so hard. I may have stayed in, like, argue with her about that. But like, on that day, I was like, you know, we’re not, we’re not doing this right now. I can’t do this right now. And there are other times when, like, you know, I think in the white Jewish community dealing with them, when like, my identity is called into question. I used to kind of argue with people about that - I no longer have that argument. That’s up for debate, if you want to, like say that about me fine. But like, there’s no basis for us to have a conversation at that point. At the same time, I’ve like, there’s plenty of times when people send stuff that really, really bothered me about like Palestinians, for example, and I stay and I have an argument, a conversation, because I know that, you know, the stakes for me are going to be different than for a Palestinian, who would not want to sit there and like, listen to that. Whereas for me, I can like, the rarely say, you know, if you value, you know, assuming the person values my opinion at all, here’s why I think you’re wrong. And here’s why this is like a moral line that I’m drawing. And that’s a really subjective and hard choice. But I think, I don’t feel like I’m, personally... I don’t see myself walking away from the halt...from the whole of it, from all of like Jewish organizing spaces. But I know people who have, especially Jews of color, who felt that it was just like, kind of pointless and unrewarding and unsafe to continue to have these conversations. And that’s like a really sad place to be in. But like, I fully understand how people get there. Yeah, I think it’s really up to you what kind of conversations you’re willing to sit through and what kind of abuse you’re willing to take, because it’s hard. And sometimes there is really an abusive element that comes up. And that’s like, something we, you know, you have to navigate and family, like, this person doesn’t treat me well. I love them a lot. But like, what do I do about that? Is there anything I can do? Like... I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that ever. But... it helps to try it...for me to try and like name and understand what the dynamic is.

AA: Yeah, I mean, we’re kind of running out of time, I didn’t know if there were things that you wanted to bring up before we ended.

RP: And then one thing I will say is sort of directed at like white, Jewish leftist. A lot of people who have relative safety within the community, give up on the idea of changing it. And that really frustrates me. If someone like me is working, not only within JVP, but like a mainstream, pretty, you know, overall pro Israel synagogue in these other spaces can like sit there and work through things that like, really my own existence is on the line. Some of those conversations, I think that there are people in our community who don’t have that burden of being like a Black woman, for example, in a Jewish space, who give up way too quickly on a community that they actually have much more leverage in than I do. And I really think that like, and maybe this is like Peter’s argument, I don’t know. But I do think that if you have, you know, power and leverage in a community, or even just like a set of relationships to work from, I think the least we can do is try and push and make our communities better if, if we’re to claim that like justice is something that we care about.

AA: I mean, I think that’s a really beautiful way of looking at it. I’ll also just point out that some of the critique that I hear from the left of that idea is that on a certain level, by engaging at all we legitimize, or we kind of center ourselves in a certain kind of conversation. Or, or trade kind of a certain kind of access to that conversation. And make, like make the conversation contingent on our own access, as opposed to like, trying to bring other people into it.

AA: Well through walking away and not bringing anyone into it, though.

AA: No, no, of course, I agree. But I guess I mean, to say like, instead of, I think that the critique that is usually leveled and we hear a lot of it is like, not that we...is not a like engaging in that conversation. Because we get a lot of critique - I think Peter in particular gets a lot of critique of like engaging in that conversation. I think some of that has to do with like, you know, what constitutes platforming and legitimization? And what doesn’t? I think he’s -

RP: Yeah, and I think I probably might disagree with him on some of what is appropriate where, you know...

AA: For sure, for sure, for sure. And I think that like some of what he says just to bring in his perspective, because, because I brought him up and he’s not speaking for himself here, is that he thinks that design is position is already the legitimate position. And so there is no way for him to platform it - or not legitimate, legitimized position. And so it’s... there’s no way for him in particular to platform it, it’s only for him to try to counter it on a certain level. But I think like, the question that we always get is like, why put our energy into this, as opposed to just turning completely towards our, towards, for example, Palestinians or towards Black Americans? Or, you know, any other marginalized group and saying, we’re actually working in solidarity with you on the things that you are working on. As opposed to, you know, working in, in Jewish community? I mean, like, it seems like, from your perspective, you’re saying, because you need to make the Jewish community a place that I can be in. And I need to be doing that work. If I’m doing that work, everyone needs to be doing that work. Is that...am I understanding that correctly?

RP: Well, I don’t think I don’t think I said or would say that everyone needs to do what I do. But what I do think is like the case is that first of all, I reject the idea that it’s either-or. Yeah, like, you know, that I work with Palestinians directly all the time, there’s no other mediator between me and like, that movement, because like, I have those relationships, I’m also in a Jewish community space. And several of them across a lot of different lines. Where I get frustrated is when people act like there’s no responsibility. Or that by like, what I’m really...what it is, it’s sort of an abdicating of like, of our responsibility to try, to try and change things say like, there’s no point, I’m gonna walk away. And just like, do this other thing. When frankly, they’re... the people who do that, usually are not operating very well in, in the other community spaces that they’re entering, because they don’t have like, you know, a sense of like, why I can’t...I’m not going to psychoanalyze this. Like a lot of the times the people who I see say that, frankly, also engage in plenty of harmful behavior in like, Palestine Solidarity spaces, including like centering themselves, and taking that white Jewish sort of like, identity and the privileges that come with it and making them, themselves the center of that conversation. Versus like, the white Jewish conversation that you need to be having. This sometimes includes conversations with other white Jewish people.Or I’ve seen some people say, like, oh, we need to go organize, like Jewish communities to be in , BLM, and worry less about like, making those community spaces, like less racist to the people of color who are already in them. And, for me, that’s really frustrating, because how are you going to organize your synagogue to go support BLM? When, like, the Black people in the synagogue, you know, aren’t being treated like members of the synagogue? Or like do... like to not see that those two things are directly in relationship to each other. And I think we need to be doing both of those sorts of work. And like if you don’t have those relationships, and that’s not like, you’re not in these broader Jewish community spaces, like find, you know, find the space that works for you. But like, the extent to which people do have like, a lot more of a voice than someone like me, and like, continue to, like not direct it at all. And like, in their own communities, it’s really frustrating for me to see, and I don’t think has to be either or, I think actually for to work, we have to kind of be doing both. We have to both do the internal work within the Jewish community to like shift on issues of Palestine, on issues of racial justice, on like, you know, all these other struggles, economic justice struggles that we’re dealing with in the US right now. And also be in solidarity with other people’s movements. And showing up when we’re asked to. I think it’s, it’s not either-or it’s both.

AA: I think that’s a great place to end. Thank you so much, Rebecca. I really, really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you all for joining us On The Nose. Please share and subscribe, and like and review, and do all the things. And we’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Thanks again, Rebecca.

RP: Thanks for having me.

Closing Credits: Can’t get enough Jewish Currents? Keep in touch with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and visit Jewishcurrents.org to subscribe and see our latest. A very special thanks to Nathan Salsberg for providing us with the music from his album “Landwerk No. 2” and to Santiago Helou Quintero for producing this segment. Thanks for listening. That’s all from us.

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