A New Year’s resolution, to stay in the work

I’ve worked at this site for 15 years, and having turned 65 last year, I’ve given a lot of thought to how to move on. I’m learning music, I work with a prisoner organization, I love the outdoors and construction and writing novels. And I’m tired of repeating myself on matters like the Nakba and the Israel lobby to try and persuade latecomers. The conflict isn’t really that complicated, and I want to do other things with my mind.

Then a few weeks ago something happened that reminded me of why I will not leave this work. The child Ali Abu Alia was killed in occupied Palestine during a protest by his village of Jewish settlers taking their lands. He was 15 that day. Israeli soldiers used an American rifle to shoot him.

When I look at how full my life is and how short Ali Abu Alia’s life was, less than a quarter of the time I’ve been given – because of my people, Americans in league with the Jewish homeland, whatever the fuck that is – it does not seem fair that I should stop working at a time when so few media organizations care about the cost of Zionism to people like Ali. Media was always the metric for us: Who could we convince to take this work up? The New York Times hasn’t deigned to cover his murder, liberal Zionist orgs care more about the death of John Lennon.

And how many of us even know about the history of the protests by Ali’s village al-Mughayyir? Jewish settlers from nearby Shiloh have attacked al-Mughayyir repeatedly as they expand their colony. Ali Abu Alia died in a noble struggle. I need to go there.

And of course Ali Abu Alia is just another statistic in a long line of Palestinian killings.

I came to this political work as an American Jew who’d made a career in glossy magazines. I was in the streets against the Iraq war when my brother told me that he had protested the Vietnam war but he didn’t know about this one because his Jewish newspaper said the war could be good for Israel; and I rebelled at the idea that it was Jewish to support such evil, and this site followed. The site’s expansion into a diverse and open progressive space is the achievement of my incredible colleagues and partners, all younger, all steeped in new definitions of community. Though I take pride!

Covid has reinforced that commitment. I went to Israel and Palestine first on Jared Kushner’s dime, before he fired me for my beliefs; and this year has reminded me of how privileged I am. My household is the opposite of “frontline,” and Covid has in ways actually been a luxury of cogitation and seclusion. And: I am always aware of how many other Jewish neighbors share my good fortune of living in the hills above the Hudson River. This is an era of unprecedented Jewish achievement/affluence—which only increases my shame over the Jewish state and my commitment to equity in Israel and Palestine.

When my partner met me, she marveled at how lucky I was, and I couldn’t be more conscious of that on the last day of 2020. I reflect that my luck has been to do this work for so long with such support. I resolve to keep trying in 2021, in the name of those who can’t.

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