A profound division exists between Zionist advocates of Israel on the one hand, and both secular and religious Jews, on the other, who reject Zionism and thus the very idea of a separate state for the Jews. Most Jews must be somewhere in between. For years, they have cringed at Israel’s actions without, however, questioning the ethnocratic nature of the Israeli state. For them, “Israel’s right to exist” is sacred because they fear that the only alternative is a physical destruction of Israeli Jews. Even though most of them live in liberal democracies, it is hard for them to fathom that Israel may change its nature, like South Africa did a few decades ago, and become a liberal state with equal rights for everyone on the entire territory under Israeli control between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan.

Israel’s assault on Gaza has made many Jews worldwide, particularly the young, to recoil from any association with the state of Israel. But at least just as many refused to remain “Jews of silence” and came to denounce Israel’s vengeful response to Hamas’ attack on its territory on October 7, 2023.

Especially in the United States, Jews have prominently cried out against the violence in Gaza. Hundreds of protesters closed down New York’s Central Station asking for an immediate ceasefire.

A week earlier, Jews wrapped in prayer shawls staged a sit-in at the U.S. Congress in Washington. After demanding an end to the violence, they opened prayer books and began reciting the ancient words that have steadied Jews for generations. Just a few days ago, Jews unfurled banners reading “Palestinians should be free” at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox Jews have burned Israeli flags at their protests around the world. They believe that the Zionist state is not simply an ‘appropriation’ of their Jewish symbols and identity, but the root cause of a bloody conflict in which innocent Jews and Palestinians suffer.

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Iron Will

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