To the editor: As a Jewish, year-round Nantucket resident, I have been heartened to see our Nantucket community join in solidarity with Palestinians, through our grief, through our discomfort, and through our fear. In phone calls to representatives, donations to aid organizations, and direct actions, I have seen Nantucketers push against the campaign of Israeli violence in Gaza, and President Biden’s funding of that campaign, with hope and determination.
Many across the country and here on Nantucket want to characterize any movement or person seeking safety and dignity for Palestinians as inherently anti-semetic. I believe nothing could be further from the truth: I am moved to action because of my Jewish values and history. When I call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza I answer the charge of ‘tikkun olam’, or repairing the world. When I critique Zionism I celebrate the multi-cultural tradition of the Jewish diaspora, and the many ways there are to be Jewish. When I stand against the Israeli government’s strategy of occupation, dehumanization, and genocide, I honor those who did the same for my ancestors.
I know many Jews right now are grieving and fearful. I am too. I crave safety for my Jewish community, in Israel and in America. And I understand that Israeli violence against Palestinians does not make Jewish people safer. Our safety is bound up in the safety of all people, especially that of our Palestinian neighbors.
This conflict has been escalating my entire life. I have heard again and again that the history is too complicated, the culture of violence too entrenched, the region too dangerous to call for peace. I urge you to look around. This is where over 75 years of violence and oppression in Gaza have gotten us. Are you happy to continue on in the same way? Are you happy to fund another 75 years of this violence?
We do not have to know everything about the history of this conflict to know that occupation is wrong. Collective punishment is wrong. The killing of over 17,000 Palestinian civilians by Israeli airstrikes is wrong. I am finishing this letter on the first night of Chanukah, and as my candles burn in the menorah, I am reminded of the power of light, the possibility of improbable peace, and the certainty that freedom is the only path to a lasting safety for all.