Many readers of the Australasian Muslim Times will be surprised to learn that many Jews reject political Zionism, the project to establish a state privileging Jews in the land of Palestine.

We in “Jews against the Occupation ‘48” have been campaigning for Palestinian rights since 2006.

I am Jewish, not religiously observant, but no less Jewish for that. We are a people as much as a religious community.

My parents had enough luck and foresight to escape the Nazis before World War II and were granted entry into New Zealand where I was born and grew up.

Many of my family were murdered by the Nazis.

As a person from a rejected people, and growing up in the very alien, insular New Zealand of the 1940’s, social inclusion and justice is in my DNA. It is also a strongly Jewish value. As Moses preached, ‘Justice, justice shall you seek!’

The Zionist movement claims to act and speak for us as Jews. We reject that.

As a Jewish group defending Palestinian rights and resistance to colonisation, we oppose the Zionist movement which sought the colonisation of Palestine and dispossessed the Palestinian people. The dispossession, murder and oppression continue to the present day.

‘Jewish’ and ‘Zionist’ are not at all the same thing.

The international Zionist movement was established in the late 19th century as an ethnic nationalist colonialist movement, similar to other such European movements of the time. It sought the support of successive imperial powers, first the Ottomans, then the British, then the US as sponsors for their project.

The political Zionist project has established a state privileging Jews.

Israel has been, until now, a liberal democracy only for Jews. Now it is well on the way to becoming a full-blown fascist state.

Within Israel itself, while Palestinians have citizenship and the right to vote, Jewish citizens have superior rights, especially in land and education.

Both Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem declare Israel to be an apartheid state both within the so-called Green Line, the ceasefire lines of 1948, and in the West Bank and Gaza.

With the original Nakba in 1948, over 750,000 Palestinians were made refugees and, to this day, are denied the Right of Return or even compensation. The Nakba has continued with ongoing dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians, and destruction of their homes and crops.

In 2018, Israel passed a new, so-called Basic Law (the nearest they have to constitutional law) proclaiming Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish people. This cemented in law what had been the practice of the state since its founding: systematic privilege for Jews and subordination of others to their interests.

Today, more and more Jews, especially young ones, around the world are active for Palestinian rights and liberation.

Recently over 5000 people led by Jewish Voice for Peace blocked Grand Central Railway Station in New York.

In Australia today, a number of young Jews are disillusioned by the clash between the social justice values of Judaism and the violent practice of the State of Israel, which they have been taught to embrace as a touchstone of their Jewish identity.

They have formed a group, the Tzedek [Justice] Collective. They recently organised a peaceful sit-in at our own Central Railway in Sydney, singing Jewish songs, and chanting ‘Never Again for Anyone’ and ‘Not in Our Name’. Far smaller than the effort by Jewish Voice for Peace in New York but a great beginning nonetheless.