A ‘Jew of color’ speaks out against Berkeley’s racist BDS movement

One of the more insidious elements of the BDS movement is the supremely dishonest racial narrative which suggests, in varying degrees of explicitness, that Zionism is a racist movement in which ‘white’ privileged European interlopers continue to displace indigenous Palestinians ‘of color’.  

Whilst the racial demographics of Israel alone disproves the fiction of a ‘caucasian nation’, facts clearly have never been an obstacle to those intent on demonizing the Jewish state. 

Yemeni Jews arrive in Israel, 2009

Aryella Moreh, a Jew of color whose mother was a refugee from Iran, addresses the racial dynamic of the BDS movement (at Berkeley and elsewhere) head-on in an eloquent and inspired essay published on May 6 at the Daily Californian – the student run newspaper at UC Berkeley:

I come from a family of refugees. My mother was younger than I am now when she was forced to flee for her life from the Islamic Revolution of Iran. My mother recalls being forced to sit in the back of her classroom along with a group of young Jewish children during her school years.

When my mother went to buy groceries in the market, she was not allowed to touch the produce because she was considered a “dirty Jew.” These are only a few indicators of the systematic oppression of the Iranian Jews, some of the oldest inhabitants of Persia. At the age of 20, she was forced to abandon her life in Iran as her family was scattered across the world. My grandmother, Mamanjani, was never allowed to return home because of her active involvement in Jewish organizations. Though she had no ties to any other government, she was warned not to go home for fear of execution without trial. Despite calling Persia home for 2,500 years, in 1979, my family and many Jewish families like my own were forced to forced to flee their homes. My family’s home, business and property was confiscated. We were torn from our homes, forced to flee to whichever country would take us in.

Though these experiences define me, some students on our campus seem to think my history does not count. During the “divestment” meeting two weeks ago, Students for Justice in Palestine tweeted about those opposed to divestment: “the Zizis are literally white people crying about their privilege, lol.” Apparently, Zizi is SJP shorthand for Zionist. And later, Daily Cal Blogger Noah Kulwin discussed a clear division he seems to see between “students of color” and “Jewish students,” implying that Jewish students like me cannot be considered students of color. I am here to address ignorance about what truly defines the Jewish people. Amid claims — or rather accusations — of “privilege” or the inability of Jews to understand the plight of “colored people,” I realized many people on this campus are unaware of who the Jewish people actually are.

We encourage you to read the rest of Moreh’s passionate plea, by clicking here.

Also, you can learn more about the broader issue of Jewish refugees from Muslim and Arab lands here and here.

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