“If you suppress your truth, you’re going to have pain. If you speak your truth, you’re going to have pain. Which pain will you choose?” – Dr. Gabor Mate
I want to share my thoughts on Israel and Palestine.
Please read this to the end. I have no doubt it will trigger a million people but I ask you to read it with openness and calm and empathy for humanity.
I’ve been waiting a while to post as it’s a lot to process, to learn, to understand.
And not only is it one of the most triggering topics of all time, but there is so much pain, trauma, and emotion on all sides—so I needed to get my words as right as could be.
I am a Jew.
My entire family is Jewish.
Mother’s side. Father’s side.
I grew up going to temple.
My Hebrew name is Baruch.
I grew up celebrating the high holidays with my grandparents.
I had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
Most of my friends in college were Jews.
I went to Israel when I was 21 for two weeks for Taglit (birthright).
I was contemplating moving to an artist Kibbutz—a cooperative living community—for six months not far from Jerusalem but decided to move to Austin to pursue music.
I can still picture the beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean on the beaches of Tel Aviv, drinking beers and hanging with new friends.
I still remember camping on a kibbutz in the Haifa forests, hanging under the moonlight, playing my song Jack ‘n Coke with a bunch of other Jews from the states, Israeli soldiers, Kibbutz members, and funnily, the author Mark Manson, who was on my trip before he got famous.
I even used to have an IDF sticker on my guitar case when I first toured around the world. Not because I loved the IDF. I just thought it was cool and that Israel was cool.
But in the past years, my worldview has been turned upside down.
I am a Jew who supports the liberation and freedom of Palestinians.
I am a Jew who opposes the Zionist movement, government, and their actions.
I completely condemn Israel’s actions toward Palestine and disagree with their policies, military actions, and occupation of Palestine for the last 75 years.
Again, I am a Jew.
I love Israel.
I can also be pro-Palestinian.
And even though I am a pro-Palestinian Jew, I understand there are loud pro-Palestinian (and many other) people who hate Jews.
I condemn them.
The world is nuanced.
I also condemn the Zionist Jews who support and enact a settler-colonist-apartheid state on the Palestinian people, whether consciously or unconsciously.
I support all Jews who want peace on both sides and minimal casualties of war—such as one of my favorite Israeli thinkers, Yuval Noah Harari.
I support all Palestinians who want to live in peace.
All of these things can hold truth at once.
Yes, obviously, I completely condemn the atrocious attacks from Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians on Oct 7.
I mourn the 1200 people killed in Israel (Israel just confirmed a decrease in the number) and the 240+ hostages captured, 30 of them being children.
I mourn the 11,000+ people killed in Palestine, 4,000+ of them being innocent children.
2/3 of them women and minors. 4,000 children. Slaughtered in one month.
I condemn the bombing and indiscriminate murder of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces.
I am pro-Jewish people living happily and safely.
I am pro-Israeli people living happily and safely.
I am pro-Palestinian people living happily and safely.
I am against Hamas.
I am against Netanyahu and the Zionist Israeli government.
Again, all these statements can be held at the same time.
One of the most difficult things in life is to unlearn ‘truths’ you thought you believed.
I believe one of the most respectable things in life is to learn a story of a people’s suffering and shift your beliefs. To hold that new story inside of you and let it mix and work and challenge the beliefs you were raised with.
And once you learn a people’s true story—it’s your duty to share it.
Starting about 5 years ago, my absolute support and pure belief in Israel began to crack.
I started to learn from brilliant Jewish and Israeli scholars and journalists who had broken away from the storytelling that was forced upon us and the entire Western world for 75 years.
Noam Chomsky. Ilan Pappé. Norman Finkelstein. Gabor Maté. Gideon Levy. Amira Hass. The list goes on. Read their books. Watch their talks. All of them have had family members die in the holocaust. A classic Zionist response will be to discredit their truths.
And to pre-empt this, you cannot call someone “not a Jew” or “antisemitic” just because they don’t support Israel and its Zionist policies.
The state of Israel is not Judaism.
Jewish people, of all types and beliefs, are Judaism.
Critiquing Netanyahu or the IDF or the Israeli Apartheid Colonial-Settler state does not make you less of a Jew.
Yes, Antisemitism is rising (along with Islamophobia at the same time).
Antisemitism is a horrific disease of humanity.
But antisemitism does not rise with the narrative many people would have you believe…
Here are two questions to think about:
Do you think support of Netayahu’s insane bombing on 10,000+ innocent Palestinians, blowing up thousands of Arab children, while the surviving family members watch their children or brothers or sisters die in front of them… increases antisemitism around the world or reduces it?
Do you think Jews calling for peace, protesting and standing hand-in-hand with Arabs and Palestinians and demanding a humanitarian ceasefire against bombing Palestinian civilians… increases antisemitism around the world or reduces it?
It’s quite simple.
The violent actions of the Israeli government is what *actually* increases antisemitism in the world.
The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians only aggravates antisemitic people.
If Netanyahu were *actually* to enact a humanitarian ceasefire, create conditions for civilians to respond safely to this war, stop the settlements, and encourage a peace process with the Palestinians, well… antisemitism would decrease.
If Netanyahu continues his campaign to crush and kill Gazans, increase illegal settlements in the West Bank, and dehumanize Palestinians…
Well, antisemitism will continue to increase.
I choose the option that makes most sense for humanity.
I choose an option that actually provides even a sliver of hope for peace—for Jews AND Arabs.
I demand a humanitarian ceasefire.
I demand a stop to the bombing of Palestinian citizens.
I demand a stop to the continued settlements of the West Bank and the razing of the Gaza strip.
Yes, of course, I demand the Israeli hostages be returned.
But it’s utter insanity when I see people I know to turn a blind eye to thousands of innocent Palestinian children having their bodies exploded and burnt to bits…
That’s not a “humane” negotiation tactic.
It’s a war crime.
It’s support of genocide.
It’s essentially saying “Ok, just commit horrific war crimes to get the hostages back. That’s how it goes…”
Yes, war is tough and brutal and insane.
But we don’t commit war crimes to get our hostages back from other countries.
Here’s another thought experiment from a common argument.
Many people say: “We want our hostages back. And we won’t stop bombing Gaza until we get them back.”
- If that common argument is that Hamas hides in tunnels, in hospitals, in schools, and uses the civilian population of Gaza as human shields…
- The response is that we are bombing the hell out of tunnels, hospitals, schools, and the civilian populations of Gaza…
- So by that same argument—wouldn’t the Israeli government potentially be bombing our hostages?
- Isn’t there a good chance that the Israeli military has already killed some of their own hostages through these indiscriminate and constant bombings?
I understand this is not easy to read.
I remember when Palestinian (and Jewish friends) first started educating me about this years ago, I thought it was Anti-Jewish or completely fabricated. But then I did the smart and challenging thing…
I researched. I learned. I read the books of scholars.
I challenged my childhood viewpoints.
And I let truth take over my biases.
And of course… the situation is complex and there has been war and pain and attacks on each side, but you can’t even begin to sit at the table and debate or discuss until you actually start from a basis of truth and actual historical understanding. And that involves understanding the true Palestinian perspective as well. Not just the Israeli perspective.
From the Nakba, and before, and beyond.
One final point — there is endless contention on the phrase — “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Most activists use this as a term to liberate Palestinians from Zionist apartheid so they can live in freedom. NOT a plea for killing Jews.
But yes, there are terrible people out there, and just because SOME people use this phrase to mean killing Jews, does not mean that it always means that.
Also, Israel’s Likud party, led by Netanyahu, embraced pretty much the same slogan in its original platform… “between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” Which is literally just the inverse phrase and could be interpreted in all these same ways.
This is how the complicated world works. But it’s not a blanket statement for killing Jews, at all.
I went to a Palestinian peace protest this week and one of my favorite quotes from a Palestinian activist speech was:
“Our freedom does not mean another people’s dispossession.”
Which is the way it should be.
Anyways, I have no doubt I am going to be attacked — from family, from friends, from strangers.
But in regards to Gabor Maté’s quote above, I think it is more painful to keep these views private than to stand for what’s right and share truths with the world.
If I can even spark the tiniest sliver of change in a single Jewish friend — so that maybe they start to unpack the story of Zionist Israel, and learn about the atrocities that are really going on — then this post and whatever comes from it will have been worth it.