Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Progressive Passover Seder!

On Tuesday, PJA celebrated Passover with our annual Progressive Passover seder.  The PJA seder takes the Passover tradition and the story of the Exodus and expands them to discuss modern-day issues of oppression and liberation.

A reading from the PJA haggadah to reflect on during Passover:

"Dayenu," says the haggadah, "it would have been enough."  A rewriting of this tradition from the Freedom Seder, held on the first anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, identifies the insufficiencies in the world and calls us to act.

So the struggles for freedom that remain will be more dark and difficult than any we have met so far. For we must struggle for a freedom that enfolds stern justice, stern bravery, and stern love.

For if we were to end a single genocide but not to stop the other wars that kill men and women as we sit here, it would not be sufficient;
If we were to end those bloody wars but not disarm the nations of the weapons that could destroy all mankind, it would not be sufficient;
If we were to disarm the nations but not to end the brutality with which the police attack people it would not be sufficient;
If we were to end outright police brutality but not prevent some people from wallowing in luxury while others starved, it would not be sufficient;
If we were to make sure that no one starved but were not to free the daring poets from their jails, it would not be sufficient;
If we were to free the poets from their jails but to train the minds of people so that they could not understand the poets, it would not be sufficient;
If we educated all men and women to understand the free creative poets but forbade them to explore their own inner ecstasies, it would not be sufficient;
If we allowed men and women to explore their inner ecstasies but would not allow them to love one another and share in the human fraternity, it would not be sufficient.

How much then are we in duty bound to struggle, work, share, give, think, plan, feel, organize, sit-in, speak out, hope, and be on behalf of Mankind!

-Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 1969

Friday, March 22, 2013

Criticism of Israel is Not Anti-Semitic

Over the past week, a dangerous rumor has circulated accusing the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) of targeting Jewish students in its campaign to raise awareness about the demolition of Palestinian homes. We, the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, strongly refute these lies and affirm that Jewish students were not targeted. While we do not endorse PSC’s campaign, we support their right to draw attention to problematic Israeli policies and believe that flyering is a legitimate and reasonable way to do so.

As part of Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week, PSC flyered student dorms with mock eviction notices in order to raise awareness about the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories. Such flyering is a common means of advertising and campaigning utilized by a wide variety of student organizations. PSC placed these notices on all suite doors in any given dormitory. However, in response to these flyers, several publications began circulating the falsehood that PSC specifically targeted Jewish students in its campaign. This claim is completely wrong, and it is clear to students who live in the dorms that Jewish students were not targeted.

Moreover, several publications have accused PSC of employing anti-Semitic rhetoric in its campaign. These claims are baseless; as PSC
affirms in a public statement on its website, these accusations “conflate [PSC’s] criticism of Israeli human rights violations with hatred of the Jewish people.” Indeed, in its mission, PSC “condemn[s] any hatred or discrimination against any racial, ethnic, or religious group." Anti-Semitism is a serious problem, and these claims minimize the seriousness of real anti-Semitism as well slander and harm the falsely accused. 

We condemn all organizations and publications both within and outside Harvard that continue to spread lies about PSC, and we ask them to immediately publish corrections stating that PSC did not target Jewish students or engage in other anti-Semitic behavior. In light of the anti-Semitic and racist incidents at Oberlin College over the past month, we hope that individuals and organizations devoted to fighting anti-Semitism will not diminish the significance of true anti-Semitism by branding criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic.