Each and every Jew who protested as a Jew against the Gaza war had a personal Jewish imperative for doing so. Some simply expressed dismay; most demanded action to end the carnage. To say that we failed is neither an expression of despair nor a statement that dissent wasn’t worthwhile. Realism suggests that it was inevitable.
Let’s be clear: diaspora and Israeli Jewish support for the war was extensive – and extremely dispiriting. It raises the question: critical Jewish voices may have increased, but can we ever trigger decisive change in mainstream Jewish opinion? An unsentimental look at developments may give reason for hope.
First, there’s been activity in many countries and support for Jewish peace groups has increased. European Jews for a Just Peace, a 10-country federation of such organisations, reports numerous initiatives in Europe. Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and other UK groups demonstrated, lobbied, placed newspaper ads and joined demonstrations. IJV groups in Canada and Australia issued statements. Jewish and Israeli protesters in Toronto, Montreal and Boston occupied Israeli consulates. US peace groups have been increasingly active. Together with activity by Israeli groups, this amounts to an undercurrent of protest that is rattling establishment Jewish leadership.