War on Gaza: After Palestinians, Zionism's next victim is the Jewish faith
Israel has stolen and appropriated Jewish symbols we hold dear, politicising them as markers for state-sponsored genocide. Palestinians continue to suffer for western empire's spoils, under the guise of safeguarding the Jewish people.
After Palestinians, Zionism's next victim is the Jewish faith.
Israel and Zionists around the world weaponise Jewish symbols to intimidate, humiliate and lay claim to that which they deem theirs. Israeli soldiers have branded the face of a Palestinian prisoner with the Star of David. Israeli forces notoriously make blindfolded kidnapped Palestinians wave or wear the Israeli flag - emblazoned with a blue Star of David - videotaping the humiliation to disseminate online for Zionists to join in the jeering.
How will Jewish people being inextricably tied to mass murder "protect Jewish people" globally?
'Symbol of violence'
As Jews around the world prepared for the start of Hanukkah this year, Israel murdered a beloved powerhouse intellectual, a Palestinian professor who represented the soaring voice of Gaza. The poet and educator Dr Refaat Alareer - and six members of his family - were "surgically targeted" and assassinated by Israel in his sister's home in Gaza City.
Zionist soldiers marked the first night of Hanukkah by erecting a gigantic menorah in the rubble of decimated homes, where bodies remain trapped
As I and many other Jews made arrangements for our annual festival of lights, Israel brutally assassinated Refaat as part of an ongoing campaign to snuff out the storytellers and journalists of Gaza. They claim to do this in our names.
Near the site where Israel assassinated Refaat, Zionist soldiers marked the first night of Hanukkah by erecting a gigantic menorah in the rubble of decimated homes, where the unrecovered bodies of loved ones remain trapped.
Instead of the menorah representing the hope and spirit of our people at this moment, it proclaims to the world a colonial military victory - a symbol of violent conquest in a place where a poet's passionate dissent was exterminated by Israel's death machine.
In the legendary story we celebrate every Hanukkah, a tiny amount of oil miraculously provided the Maccabees eight nights of fuel to keep their temple lit. It has become a celebration of their faith and perseverance as Jewish freedom fighters facing down violent tyranny. Refaat and so many others martyred by Israel echo the resistance of these Jewish rebels - immortal symbols of light in the face of state terror and a reminder that the Palestinian spirit can never be extinguished.
Zionism was once a fringe nationalist political movement within Judaism: only when its interests aligned with western imperialism did it receive the necessary backing to colonise Palestine. But so long as Zionist nationalism has existed, so have anti-Zionist Jews, rejecting the notion that our people should murder and displace Palestinians to build a western-backed settler-colony.
This genocide is a ceaseless nightmare with frightening echoes of the Holocaust. Zionist weaponisation of the Star of David is reminiscent of jeering Nazis who wielded the (stolen and appropriated) swastika symbol to humiliate Jews before mowing them down in the streets.
I am continually struck by the glee with which Zionists abuse Palestinians and make a mockery of our sacred symbols and prayers. The Israeli occupation forces recently raided a mosque, detaining and abusing Palestinians while hijacking the mosque's speaker system to sing Hebrew prayers.
This is an affront to the Muslim Palestinians praying in their sacred place of worship and an insult to every single Jewish person of conscience who rejects the weaponisation of our faith by Israeli fascists.
Zionists drag Judaism through the mud by graffitiing and searing the Star of David to assert dominance over Palestinians while holding a literal knife to the neck of our Torah scrolls. But the symbolic death of the soul of Judaism pales in comparison to the material, ongoing devastation of the Palestinian genocide.
Zionism is no longer a fringe ideology within Judaism: we grapple with genocide and occupation that the majority of our community supports
Israel has murdered more than 20,000 Palestinians and counting. It has displaced almost two million people more and intentionally destroyed homes, the ecosystem and infrastructure to render Gaza uninhabitable for those who manage to survive starvation, dehydration and carpet bombing.
So long as Israel massacres Palestine using the Jewish faith as a weapon of war, people will falsely conflate the global Jewish community with Israel.
In politicising Judaism, Zionists have robbed Jews of a faith practice divorced from nationalist barbarism.
Antisemitic western countries are completely satisfied to have Jewish people act as moral cover and human shields for their imperialism. These are the same countries like the US that rejected entry for Jewish Holocaust refugees but without hesitation poured billions into Israel's military expansion project.
Zionism is no longer a fringe ideology within Judaism: we grapple with genocide and occupation that the majority of our community supports. This is a result of ongoing Zionist indoctrination that dehumanises and erases Palestinian life, teaches entitlement to Palestinian land, centres fear and Islamophobia, and sanitises Israel's brutality.
Part of stepping into Jewish anti-Zionism is accepting the fact that our religion has been hijacked by fascists who commit ongoing genocide on behalf of colonial powers.
If Jewish people don't want to be incorrectly associated with Israel's tyranny, the answer is to be vocally anti-Zionist and work to dismantle both Zionism and Israel's settler-colony. As an anti-Zionist Jew, I eagerly embrace integrating Palestinian liberation into my faith practice.
Decoupling Zionism from my Judaic rituals isn't a burden: it fills my Judaism with the divine energy of Tikkun Olam - the Jewish moral imperative to repair the world.
Disentangling Zionism from Judaism deepens my connection with my Jewish ancestors who, like Palestinians, fought with every dying breath to resist annihilation. Judaism will outlive violent Zionist nationalism and when Palestine frees itself, it will free us all.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.