Monday, June 21, 2010


Comments about spiritual and cultural Reclamation Sector: by Jonah Aline Daniel

I would like to start by acknowledging the land that we are on- land that still belongs to pottowotamie, ojibwe and ottowa peoples. thank you.

Welcome everyone. We are here to talk briefly about the work of jewish anti-zionist spiritual and cultural reclamation and creation, as a political project. A group of us have been organizing programming around these topics and we’re excited to continue this building with you here- at the workshops and organizing meetings, in conversations one on one, and of course far into the future.

The logic of Zionism lives on an emotional level- accessing and exploiting fear and trauma to garner blind support for its ongoing genocidal colonial project. Even in a very tender open conversation with my justice-oriented mother about Zionism, we couldn’t get much past her teary “what about safety for jews?”
My jewish education has told me that Israel is my spiritual home, that I must look to somewhere far away ive never been, to be authentically jewish or authentically spiritual. I understand now that Judaism becomes mine through my engagement with it, more powerfully and authentically in the places that I call home than anywhere else. The more connected I am to that place, to the land and the ecosystems and the struggles of indigenous people whose land it still is, the more powerful my practice and my work are.

And I understand that my safety and the safety of other jews around the world depends upon our ability to build true and honest alliances and solidarity with communities struggling for justice, and the lies and destruction of Zionism- inside of me and out in the world prevent me from building those alliances.

Because of the emotional level on which Zionism feeds, strategies for challenging and unlearning Zionism must include engagement on a heart and spirit level.

We seek to form and widen cracks in the narrative and power of Zionism by building radical vibrant Anti-Zionist Jewish culture and spirituality, that fuel and mobilize powerful accountable organizing, that support us, and that acts as a point of entry into this work for new folks. We are engaged in the work of reclaiming our spiritual and cultural lives and histories and futures from Zionism.

We remind ourselves that Zionism and the state of Israel is a relatively recent event in the course of Jewish history. A strong set of ethics and a commitment to an ethical existence and world have been a core part of Jewish communal life over time. We draw inspiration from the many legacies of powerful Jewish political participation and resistance.
We locate ourselves within movements that assert that Jewish texts are living documents that we have the right to access and reinterpret and to make relevant to our modern world. We are also inspired by our tradition’s support for action, debate and justice, for challenging and questioning always.
And we want to know:
What legacies inspire you? What traditions do you draw upon?

The work of extricating Jewish culture and spirituality from Zionism is urgent and necessary for the political project of challenging and dismantling the state of Israel. Creating and participating in radical liberatory jewish spaces can also be a part of our healing process from anti-Jewish oppression, generations of trauma, and the violence of Christian dominance, hegemony and appropriation, as well as from Zionism, patriarchy, homophobia, and marginalization within our own traditions and communities.
We are engaged in joint struggle for collective liberation with Palestinians and everyone impacted by the ideologies and violence of Zionism.

For many of us, our commitment to justice comes from a deeply spiritual place.
And the relationship between our political organizing and the political project of spiritual and cultural reclamation is not always easy to navigate.
Because our anti-zionist politics so often exclude us from Jewish institutions, seemingly forcing us to choose between political integrity and Jewish community and spirituality, and because much of the left does not support the realm of the spirit, we must claim and create space for ourselves.
We are reclaiming and creating new texts, prayers, traditions, rituals, and creative culture.
We are engaged in spiritual and cultural tradition both as a means for furthering our political organizing and as an end in and of itself, as relevant political projects with inherent value.
Jewish practice can offer wisdom, structure, inspiration, and renewal in what can be an exhausting and draining work and lives. A connection to jewish ritual and tradition can help us to be whole people and more effective agents of change.

We are very excited about the many possibilities of mobilizing our social location strategically and powerfully as anti-zionist jews struggling in the realms of spirituality and culture. One idea includes Interfaith organizing with people of all backgrounds, in resistance to Dominant Christianity and against Zionism, anti-arab racism and widespread Islamaphobia.
We will continue the work of developing spiritual practice and cultural resistance that propel us to accountable action for a free Palestine. There will be space at this assembly to engage the power and possibility of this organizing. Some questions for us to engage together are:
• How can our anti-zionist cultural, religious and spiritual leaders (and we, as our own leaders) be a left pole and a call to action for cultural, spiritual and religious communities?
• In what way can cultural and spiritual perspectives strengthen and bolster campaign work?
• How can we create cultural and spiritual spaces and public ritual that are empowering and mobilizing and have material effects on ending Zionism?
• And very importantly what does it look like to hold ourselves accountable to Palestinian self-determination and to the jewish legacies from which we come?

For those of us who engage with it, our culture and spirituality, and our political work are not separate. Let us move forward whole and with our full selves... deeply rooted and nourished by moments like this assembly and the broader movements it is a part of.

Recalling the generations, we weave our lives into the tradition


Post a Comment