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Meet the young Jewish voices pushing for peace from across Europe

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#NOTINOURNAMES - Posted on Facebook Friday May 14, 2020
#NOTINOURNAMES - Posted on Facebook Friday May 14, 2020   -   Copyright  #NOTINOURNAMES
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#NOTINOURNAMES is the social media rally cry of a group of young Italian Jews who are taking a stand against violence in Israel and Palestinian territories, evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and police repression.

The group of around 50 signatories to a statement on Facebook want to make it clear that the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews.

#NOTINOURNAMES Siamo un gruppo di giovani ebree ed ebrei italiani. In questo momento drammatico e di escalation della...

Posted by Bruno Montesano on Friday, May 14, 2021

Alessandro Fishman, an Italian-Israeli Jew living in Jerusalem, is among them. He said he grew up with values of justice and equality and he can’t agree with what is happening.

“I am very much worried," he told Euronews. "I have been crying a lot. We have the feeling that something is broken seeing those scenes in Haifa, where Jews are trying to find Arabs to beat or kill.

“What's new in the last few weeks is the racial clashes in Israeli towns. This is something that this country hasn’t seen in a long time. When the bombing stops and a ceasefire is in place, it could be a very long time before people heal.”

Deadly violence

Earlier this month, Palestinians protested against Israel’s heavy-handed policing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound - a site sacred to Jews and Muslims - and after threats of the eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah. There’s been heavy fighting since May 10 when Gaza's militant Hamas rulers fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem, and Israel began heavy airstrikes on Gaza.

At least 213 Palestinians have been killed, including 61 children and 36 women, and more than 1,440 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The fighting is the most intense since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Over the last few years, a number of new Jewish groups have sprung up over Europe including in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and in the UK with people speaking out expressly against the violence.

UK groups push for peace

Na’amod is a movement of British Jews, which has held small rallies across the UK since May 10 against the “occupation of Palestinians,” so that there can be “freedom from violence” for Palestinians and Israelis.

“Our main aim as a group is to try and move our community away from supporting the Israeli occupation to mobilising it to freedom and equality for all in Israel-Palestine. Our key analysis here is that what has provoked the current situation and what’s been a problem for [the] last few decades is military occupation that Israel maintains over Palestinian territories and aspects of Jewish supremacy that it maintains.”

Also in the UK is Yachad, a non-profit organisation working to mobilise British Jews in support of a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through education, debate and advocacy. They describe themselves as a pro-Israel, pro-peace movement for British Jews, who also take a strong stance against antisemitism.

In 2015, Yachad surveyed more than 1,000 British Jews, a year after Israel's war on Gaza killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, and Palestinian militants killed 73 people on the Israeli side.

The survey showed strong support for the idea that “Israel should give up territory in exchange for guarantees of peace”, and that Israel’s approach to peace is damaging to its “standing in the world. Nine of out ten people said they see Israel as powerful and the Palestinians as victims.

'It's very easy to say stop'

However, for a young former Israeli soldier now studying in Zurich, who does not want to be named, it is hard to imagine how there can be peace even if a ceasefire is called.

“Within the army, the normal soldier does not have to have a lot of power. But they are taught to act with a moral compass,” he said. “The main problem is the governments and the people in power. It’s the Israeli government and Hamas, both sides. It’s very easy to say stop, but that does not solve the problem in general.”

Na'amod
British Jews in rally organised by Na'amod, Parliament Square London May 11Na'amod

Emily Hilton, is a British-Australian Jew and Na’amod co-founder, who is now based in Tel Aviv. She says what’s happening is incredibly devastating and proves there is no military solution.

“What’s inspiring, as someone who has spent a lot of time on the ground here in Israel-Palestine, is the mobilisation of Palestinian resistance in this moment. While, of course, the rocket attacks are terrible, Palestinians going on strike to protest in different cities and solidarity for people being bombed in Gaza, is important.”

Like many other young Jews across the region, she believes that people are waking up to the fact that the current situation is not sustainable and "this is about building a future for freedom and equality for everyone in this land”.