Supporting the Existence of Israel is not a Human Rights Violation

By Sari Dashefsky

New York City, New York

I’m not making excuses, nor am I blindly supporting Israel (Photo Credit: Sari Dashefsky)

I believe in gun control and human rights and racial justice and a woman’s right to choose and climate control and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.


That last one may come as a surprise to many, at least compared to the other liberal social issues I am passionate about. It’s disappointing to me that American politics are polarized to such an extent that many are unable to form individual opinions on distinct issues. Instead, all causes that align with a political view are linked; once you support one cause, you are linked to all the others. Not only is this extremely harmful in preventing free thought and opinion on individual issues, but it ostracizes those who don’t agree with every idea on a political agenda.


This was made explicitly clear to me this summer when Black Lives Matter posts inundated my Instagram feed. I was searching for a link to put in my bio with resources to educate people on racial justice and petitions that needed more signatures. I was about to post the ​link​ that most of my friends used until I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, where I found a link entitled “Free Palestine.”


Despite my solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, I could not bring myself to put this particular link in my bio, no matter how helpful the resources it contained were. I decided to find a different link instead.


But don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-Palestine. I simply want and understand the need for a Jewish homeland where Jews do not need to worry about antisemitism in the land containing the holiest sites of our religion. I am a proud Zionist who believes in the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Apparently, that sentiment makes me less liberal. 


A “typical” liberal would side with the Palestinians because of the human rights abuses they have endured in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’m not making excuses nor am I blindly supporting Israel––I often criticize Israel’s government and treatment of Palestinians––but I see the issue through a more nuanced lens, especially because of my Jewish identity. Criticism of Israel is neither anti-Zionist nor antisemitic; the support of policies or organizations that call for Israel to cease to exist, however, is. 


The human rights abuse is also a two-way street: there have been numerous terrorist attacks that have been perpetrated by Palestinians toward Israelis and vice versa. Still, while acknowledging the many perspectives of this conflict, I cannot even begin to express my anger at the fact that many people do not recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish State of Israel, especially as Jews have been persecuted throughout all of history. My anger only intensifies when I realize that many of those people have the same liberal views that I do on other social issues.


There’s no one right answer to this conflict, but there’s no singular view of it either. It’s impossible to form a justified opinion on this topic without understanding the conflicting claims both groups have to the land, something many still do not understand. Sure, a two-state solution on the surface seems ideal––at least to me––but, based on historical context, I do not see either government compromising land or rights any time soon. This is all a work in progress.


So what’s next? What can we do to help? I’d say learn the facts. Read The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Times of Israel, The New York Times, Fox News, CNN and news sources from all sides of the political spectrum. Only by understanding the context and facts, rather than succumbing to polarization and agreeing with assumed party views, can we make real change and allow for free thought. Challenge your own assumptions and do some research; then we can talk.