Dear members of Alternative Jewish Voices,

Shalom and/or Sala ‘am,

If you are reading this and you have recognised my name, you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, here we go, another Zionist stooge from the Jewish community writing in to tell us what we can and can’t say in support of the Palestinians.” Well, you can release those hackles. You will be pleasantly surprised to know, that I’m actually writing to say thank you. Thank you, shukran and todah rabah, for publishing your opinion article in scoop.co.nz on the 11th of June “From the river to the sea.” It unmistakably outlines your group’s stance on the Israel/Palestinian conflict and indicates to all what you’re about.

To be honest, when it comes to defending Israel within the wider community in New Zealand, it’s been tough going, especially over the last month. I’ll admit I’ve had some difficulty in persuading left-leaning kiwis that the heart of the issue is not about apartheid, Sheik Jarrah, settlements or ‘the occupation’. I’ve put in a significant amount of effort to make the case that, actually, the root of the problem is that no matter Israel does, no matter how much land Israel sacrifices in the name of peace, nothing will be enough for the Palestinians until Israel is completely wiped off the map. I point to Palestinian intransigence at the negotiation table, the Arab Israeli wars going back to ’48, all those silly inciting videos of Hamas leaders calling for Israeli Jews to have their hearts ripped out and of course, the indiscriminate rocket attack into the heartland of Israel. To my chagrin, nothing really seems to stick. Sometimes it really feels like an uphill battle, after all, it’s completely understandable that not much can match pictures of dead Palestinian babies on the TV, other than say… dead Jewish babies. But let’s not go there, we both know you think that Jews can only claim the moral high ground as they’re lining up for the ovens. So let me explain why your words are like mana from heaven.

We know and you know, and you know that we know that when Palestinians chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” They’re ain’t talking about civil liberties, roadblocks or settlements. After all, if they were talking about “rights”, it would end with “…Palestinians will be free.” Those familiar with the complexities of the conflict, such as yourselves, know this slogan to be the war cry for those who seek Israel’s elimination, and it sends a chill down the backs of all those who support Israel’s right to exist. Let me turn out that gaslight of yours. This slogan is not the same one supported by American rabbis calling for Justice, equality, freedom, and coexistence between the ‘river and the sea’. No, the slogan you defend in your article envisions the end of Israel, a zero-sum conclusion to this conflict where Palestinians have their right of self-determination and Jews do not. With this 1-state solution, there is no room for a peace process, negotiations or compromise, or any other identity other than “Palestinian.” It insinuates the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the land at the minimum and at worst, calls for Jewish holocaust. It’s for this reason this slogan is promoted by extremist Palestinian groups such as Hamas and the PFLP. You cannot throw the wool over our eyes; the slogan isn’t about human rights – it’s anti-rights, it’s anti-Jewish rights. But that’s OK with you because AJV is an advocate of the one-state solution – an extreme position to even those Kiwi Jews who lean towards the left. See, while our community never claimed to be homogenous in its political views, your support of the slogan has invalidated you as a representational voice within our community.

So let me thank you. Thank you for endorsing the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. I urge you to continue defending its use by pro-Palestinian supporters. It helps to reveal that the Palestinian liberation movement isn’t about peace, it’s about complete ethnic domination and a complete rejection of the single Jewish state. And thank you for your article, it flashes antisemitism in big red letters to all far and near and outs your group members for who they truly are; anti-Jewish ‘alternative’ voices. Reasonable New Zealanders will continue to steer well-away from your odious group.

Peace.

Josh Brown

  • Josh Brown is an advocate for Wellington’s Jewish Community and former member of the NZ Jewish Council.