Dear Network for Social Justice Community,
I’m writing to you as the Director of the Network and — as so many of us have many identities — I am also writing as a Jew and as an Israeli citizen who spent many years working in both Israel and Palestine. We are watching the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip unfold with a very heavy heart. The Israel-Palestine conflict has deep historical roots, and raises divergent perspectives, but we decry violence as a means to resolve these differences. As an organization that began in 1991 in response to antisemitic rhetoric and incidents, the Network for Social Justice is keenly aware that such beliefs (alongside growing extremism and direct attacks) are very much present and on the rise across North America. We extend ourselves to the Jewish community in Winchester and to Palestinians and Israelis here and abroad, and we are especially mindful of the fear, anxiety, and trauma that some of our friends, neighbors and colleagues are experiencing right now.
And, we are an organization that stresses antiracism and inclusion, and in recent years have led the community in challenging explorations about allyship. As such, I want to express my belief that now is a time to acknowledge pain, allow for expression through creating brave spaces for discussion, and listen — really listen — to each other. As someone with multiple, and often conflicting, identities, who has had the privilege of being part of these discussions for many years with Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East, I know this is possible.
I fear that the coming weeks will not bring a cessation, but rather an escalation, of this 75+ year old entrenched ethno-nationalist conflict, one in which both sides have already suffered trauma and deep, deep loss. Acknowledging each other’s pain is the only place we can start. Please consider reaching out to the NFSJ with ideas for programming or ways we can support and constructively engage in these discussions in this hard time.
Executive Director NFSJ