This statement was created by the founding core members of our caucus to introduce the organizing space we seek to create.
We are an autonomous group of Jews of Color and Sephari/Mizrahi Jews (JOCSM) organizing in solidarity with the movement for Palestinian liberation and in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). We are focused on combating U.S., Israeli, and other state-based racisms with the understanding that the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of JOCSM, and the liberation of all People of Color (POC) communities are interconnected and dependent on one another.
We use “JOCSM” as a term that unites us but also has its limits. We acknowledge that we are not all equal under dominant U.S., Israeli, and otherwise transnational racial hierarchies. Some of us are Sephardic, Mizrahi, African, Romaniote, Ashkenazi, and some of us identify as Arab and/or Palestinian Jews. Some of us are mixed race, of mixed heritage, Black, indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and/or Jews by choice. Some of us are not. We hold different degrees of privilege given colorism, racialization, and continued legacies of orientalism and colonialism.
We see opposition to the occupation and to Israeli settler colonialism as directly tied to our own resistance as JOCSM and recognize the right of return for refugees. Solidarity with Palestinians in resisting historic and continued dispossession through the Nakba, Naksa, and beyond is a vital step in securing liberation for all those subjected to state-sanctioned Israeli racism.
When Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews are subject to mass incarceration, police brutality, medical racism, kidnapping, and used as human shields to enact Israeli state violence, our oppressions are directly linked. When our diasporic communities are subject to transnational racial and imperialist domination, while being used as a moral shield for the very violence directed at Palestinians and JOCSM alike, we have a duty to act.
We pursue anti-racist, anti-colonial organizing and solidarity to break down the barriers that interlocking systems of domination place between oppressed communities and which seek to divide and conquer us.
Our analysis is informed by our position at the intersections of transnational white supremacy, zionism, and antisemitism where we have been marginalized, exploited, sexualized, erased, tokenized, silenced, othered, oppressed, patronized, and infantilized. We have also witnessed our cultures destroyed and appropriated in service to the white supremacism and settler militarism that are at the basis of zionism. We believe that given these experiences, JOCSM have a unique role in fighting state-sponsored racism in both the U.S. and Israel.
Our critique is directed first and foremost at the U.S. and Israeli nation-states. However, we also seek to combat white Ashkenazi centrism and other forms of discrimination in our own Jewish communities. Additionally, we believe that U.S. Palestine solidarity and other racial justice movements benefit from a JOCSM analysis in order to build principled solidarity and pursue a thorough intersectional anti-racist agenda. This includes combating white supremacy and antisemitism whether they manifest in movement spaces, at the nation-state level, or in our own U.S. communities of color.
Just as we oppose Israeli settler colonialism, we also oppose its U.S. settler colonial antecedent. As JOCSM, we belong to or are in solidarity with indigenous communities in North America. The same U.S. settler colonial aggression that has necessitated forced removal, enslavement, migration, and indigenous refugees are shared with, rather than distinct from the Israeli state. We understand the concept of Israeli and U.S. “shared values,” often presented as equality and democracy, is in fact rooted in a common history of militarized white supremacy and settler-colonialism.
The settler colonial, orientalist, and racist structure of Israeli nationalism, like U.S. nationalism, has strategically exploited racial and cultural diversity, perpetuating the minoritization and targeting of JOCSM, Palestinians, and POC at large. This historical context informs how we position ourselves, our organizing, and our joint struggle for collective liberation.
Therefore, when our Jewish communities erase and flatten family histories to create a singular Jewish narrative that serves a zionist reading of our rich, heterogenous Jewish history, we are outraged.
Additionally, when anti-zionist or anti-occupation movements employ a similar flattening that positions all Jews as working in solidarity against racism and imperialism only as allies, they are impeding holistic solidarity, our potential points of connection, and coalition building.
We enter this work recognizing its challenges, but also its possibilities. This space is something we have longed for. We have longed not only for this space for ourselves, but also for the ability to connect with Palestinians and other POC on our own terms. We open our arms to comrades in struggle, and clench our fists against the logics of domination that would otherwise hold us down and pit us against each other. We are excited to embark on pursuing this work, and hope you are too.
In this blog we share the views of the members of the Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi caucus that organizes in collaboration with Jewish Voice for Peace. The opinions expressed in individual posts belong to their authors and do not reflect the views of the entire caucus or of Jewish Voice for Peace.