An Open Letter Regarding The 2010 U.S. Assembly of Jews: Confronting Racism & Israeli Apartheid

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

In less than a month, people from across the United States and beyond will be gathering at the 2010 U.S. Assembly of Jews: Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid (the “Assembly”).

The Assembly is an historic event intended to build relationships, political clarity and Jewish anti-Zionist organizing and activism. It takes place at a time when recognition of the brutal nature of the State of Israel is growing, and increasing numbers of people are compelled to challenge its impunity. To date, the Assembly has over forty endorsers, anticipates two hundred participants, and has gained the interest of Palestinian, Palestinian solidarity and anti-racist movements in the United States, as well as the attention of mainstream Jewish media.

Given the stated purposes of the Assembly, we are expecting challenges to be leveled against it. IJAN, the main organizer of the Assembly, is already receiving criticism based on inaccurate assumptions or apparently different political goals. With this momentous event upon us, we would like to take a moment to make clear the principles, positions and goals of the Assembly and help correct or prevent misconceptions.

IJAN and the Assembly stand firmly against Zionism – the exclusionary colonial ideas, policies and practice that privilege Jews above, and at the expense of, Palestinian people. By extension we reject the Jewish nationalism that underlies Zionism, a nationalism that erases diverse Jewish histories and champions safety in separation, isolation and domination of others. We believe that true safety and long-term freedom can only be found in the emancipation of all people.

We expressly challenge Zionism’s monopolization of our diverse Jewish histories, politics, cultures and religious practices. We take strength from and join in the long tradition of Jewish commitment to human emancipation. Against the Zionist betrayal of this tradition and the hijacking of Jewish history, the Assembly is a collective act of Jews reasserting and reconnecting with a long history of participation in social justice movements.

In the same way that we reject Zionism’s inherent racism, we reject racism and hatred in any form and against any people or person. Thus we refuse to ally ourselves with anti-Jewish racists, white supremacists or Holocaust deniers. To do otherwise, would mean to embrace the Zionist strategy of conflating Judaism and Jewishness with Zionism, a tactic used to assume and even impose unconditional support of Jews for Israel regardless of that State’s actions. In our unequivocal rejection of Zionism, we do not and will not take part in actions that conflate Zionism and Judaism, whether intentionally or thoughtlessly. We believe that supporting Palestinian self-determination requires challenging Zionist ideas, policies and practice, not the practice of Judaism.

To ensure that we are neither divisive nor obtrusive guests in Detroit, the Assembly will not endorse participation in any political activities other than those developed through the collaborative national process of the organizing for it. We request Assembly participants not to be provoked by those who may attempt to undermine the objectives of the Assembly, including by calling for our participation in activities outside of and contradictory to it.

In addition, IJAN will not align itself with those who either seek to use the struggle against Zionism for their own ends, individual or collective, or who proclaim themselves anti-Zionist but whose divisive actions serve only to further a Zionist agenda, undermining Palestine solidarity work and anti-Zionist organizing. Rather, the Assembly is intended to promote the building of organized forces of Jews who can multiply and amplify efforts to overcome Zionism and decolonize Palestine, by working with and in support of the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

To that end, we welcome all who are 1) interested in supporting the organizing of anti-Zionist Jews as part of the broader Palestine solidarity movement and anti-racist, anti-imperialist organizing in the United States and beyond, 2) committed to the principles reflected in the Assembly’s purpose, goals, assumptions and expectations, and 3) able to express this commitment through participation that supports the goals and activities of the Assembly. While we welcome discussions on our continually evolving struggle to overcome the destructiveness, including of life and land, of Zionist principles, practices and policies, we will not tolerate attempts to disrupt, undermine, provoke or attack participants, speakers or facilitators.