Katzevich ’16: I want to love Israel, but …

Guest Columnist
Monday, April 7, 2014

I wear a Star of David around my neck, the same one that Israel uses to embellish its flag. I am proud to be Jewish, proud of Judaism’s centuries-old tradition of resisting oppression — a pride that Israel invariably insists it shares. I believe in equality, humanity, democracy and progress, the very same values Israel claims to uphold. It is due to my deeply held convictions that, while appreciating the ideal of Israel, I cannot but detest the reality of the settler-colonialist, ethnocentric, militarist state that occupies the land between the Jordan and the sea.

The invitation by Brown/RISD Hillel of Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, an Israel Defense Forces veteran and apologist for the occupation of Palestine, sparked a large protest that I was proud to participate in and help organize. Anthony is the embodiment of much of what is so terribly wrong with Israel today. His philosophy mirrors that of so many on the increasingly dominant Israeli right, which justifies unconditionally all of Israel’s actions based on an intellectually vacuous rhetoric of nationalism and duty to one’s country. If history has taught us anything, it is that this type of discourse is exactly the perfect catalyst for atrocities.

Israel was founded in 1948 largely due to the horrendous crimes of the Holocaust. However, what followed was the brutal military dispossession of almost a million indigenous Palestinians of their land and the subsequent denial of their right to return, for which they and their descendants still fight today. This catastrophe is called the Nakba, and looms as large in Palestinian cultural memory as the events three years preceding it loom in Jewish collective memory. This campaign of incidental and purposeful cleansing of the land was the first step in ensuring an ethnically dominant Jewish population in Israel, a campaign that continues to the present day.

Israel was created as a state to allow Jews to escape persecution and anti-Semitism, and to live freely and proudly among equals. It is a tragic irony that the actions of this state have appropriated the identity of “Jewishness” while perpetrating atrocities in the name of the Jewish state. Many Jews in Israel and around the world are certainly not proud to be associated with military occupation and war crimes by virtue of the state that claims a monopoly on their religion, yet they do not believe they have had the freedom to express this fundamental dissent.

Moreover, Israel’s own policies and the prejudices of the dominant white Ashkenazi population do not allow all Jews to live in peace and equality, as darker-skinned Sephardi Jews are lucky if they “pass,” and the horrible reports of forced sterilization of black Ethiopian Jews immigrating to Israel are becoming far too frequent. By placing the star I wear around my neck on its flag, Israel attempts to speak in my name, and in the names of all Jewish people worldwide, while acting in ways that many of us not only vehemently oppose, but consider literally anti-Jewish.

Of course, Israel’s most egregious crimes are the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. While the common stereotype propagated by Western media is that Palestinian resistance is violent, those committing violence on the Palestinian side make up a minuscule minority. Overwhelmingly, Palestinian resistance is nonviolent peaceful protest, resembling Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi far more than al-Qaeda.

However, these peaceful protests are brutally repressed by the IDF’s rubber bullets, live bullets and tear gas canisters used as direct projectiles, with lethal consequences for those struggling for freedom and autonomy. Men, women and children are killed or arrested in the night and held without trial for months or years. Freedom of movement is restricted by countless checkpoints, where Palestinians are stopped for hours and humiliated on a daily basis. Many roads are only for Jewish settlers, who are able to harass and attack Palestinians with impunity. All these crimes against the very humanity of a people occur against the backdrop of a separation — read: apartheid — wall that not only steals Palestinian land, but looms as the most concrete representation of their status as unwelcome outsiders, dehumanized “others.”

My parents, fierce Zionists and Israeli nationalists, lived under the heavy mental, emotional and at times physical abuse of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. I was lucky enough to not have to experience any anti-Semitism in my life, as I grew up in the United States. Jews do not make up a majority of the United States, nor is ours a “Jewish nation.” Still, I and countless other American Jews are able to live as equals among equals, unafraid of discrimination and proud of our Judaism. This should serve as a lesson to Israel: It has no need to fear the “demographic threat” of the Palestinians, no need to brutally repress others so that Israeli Jews can enjoy freedom. Israel’s fear of Palestinian freedom will prove as baseless as the fears of white Southerners and South Africans for the survival of their populations once they were forced to stop their oppression of blacks.

While much reconciliatory work would need to be done to build a nation in which all people can live equally and with dignity, an end to the occupation and full equal rights for everyone will not doom Israel or preclude it from being a state safe and welcome for Jews. Rather, it will give a rebirth to Israel’s Judaism and create a Judaism that loves rather than hates, that accepts rather than discriminates. Israelis can confidently look to the sea and be assured that the Palestinians will not drive them into it. They will never return the favor.

I want to love Israel, as my parents do. I want to feel a connection to my people’s historic land. However, my people’s history is one of fiercely resisting oppression, not perpetrating it, of fighting for all that is right, not defending all that is wrong. I want to love Israel, but first Israel has to learn to love itself enough to accept all people as equals between the Jordan and the sea.



David Katzevich ’16 is a radical believer that a better world is possible through collective action and has an unquenchable thirst for justice and an undying love for humanity. He can be reached at

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  1. Basically, David seems to be asking why Israel can’t be America and assuming that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Arabs are more or less like Martin Luther King and the black people of Montgomery. But there is no audible voice of nonviolence among the Palestinian Arab people, much less among their leadership. If you look into calls for nonviolent resistance, they are all calls for nonviolence in addition to violence, not instead of violence. There is no public Palestinian Arab movement in favor of a permanent peace with a neighboring Jewish state. The sentiment may be there among the people, or it may not, but if it is, it is thoroughly repressed by the only Palestinian Arab leadership in town and there’s no way that Israel can throw that leadership out. (If Israel tried, you can bet that the rest of the world would scream bloody murder.) The philosophy of the Palestinian Arab leadership remains what it was in 1948– not to accept any terms that will leave the Jewish state in place. That’s why the 1948 leadership turned its own population into refugees, that’s why the refugees are not assimilated into neighboring countries, and that’s why the terrorism against Israel never stops.

    • Gosh. Now i know why Israelis keep stealing land for settlements. Because as they keep stealing, the odds of a Palestinian MLK actually increases.

      You never know what u learn from the excuse machine.

      • Whoever claims there is no Palestinian non-violent resistance, does not know of the weekly Palestinian protests and the incredible violence they encounter by Israeli Terrorist Forces:

        • Barasheit says:

          Nice link from the Palestinian Authority. Your and my tax dollars at work. It is a tear gas canister that accidently his her and as you will see the EMTs come in right away to treat her. Did you see anything of the 16 year old Palestinian that stabbed an Israeli solder to death? How about the 3 that sliced open the necks of an entire family except one girl who was not at home, including a 6 month old baby?

          • BigSticksWalkSoftly says:

            Your hatred of all things Palestinians is racist and contributes little to gaining an understanding of the oppression experienced by an an average Palestinian living under Israeli occupation.

          • Israeli for peace says:

            I find it very interesting that you are actually ready to start an argument comparing Palestinian and Israeli violence violence. i would advise you not to open that pandora’s box on yourself cause you’ll be hit with a lot of facts and bad news that doesn’t really agree with your obviously uninformed PURE opinion.

    • BigSticksWalkSoftly says:

      Yrakei obviously has no clue in regards to the current non violent push by modern day Palestinians to gain their human and civil rights…however the current Israeli right wing government and their underlings are doing all they could to stop justice for Palestinians

  2. It’s nice the Cathedral has opened its doors to you, David. All you have to do is spit on your people and toe the party line, which is easy to do-Providence is a much nicer place than Hevron, as long as you don’t go south. And it’s a time-honored path-Torquemada, for instance, came from conversos. Prove your loyalty and conformity, David, the rewards from your masters will be worth it for sure.

    • hello racist asshat, plz f*ck off.

      • also major lol that the guy defending the state of israel is accusing the other guy of being a christian, dude christians love the state of israel

        • Barasheit says:

          No. Not really. I was brought up one, my mother was one and I can tell you that is NOT true. They think they are. Many of them just want to see Jews take the temple mounth so they can be “Raptured”. All of them believe that it was Jews who killed Yeshua (Jesus), but the facts from history and the bible itself ( If read ) show that Herod and his sons were what? Edomites ( From the seed of Esua ). Who do you suppose appointed the priests and the rulers in Judea at the time of the Herods? Yes, that is right – They were all children of Esau. A Jew is a child of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah. An Edomite is is a child of Abraham, Isaac and Esau. And what was Esau known for? His love of Blood for one thing. Isaac prophesied about Esau and Jacob. You should read about it. Even my own mother who thinks she has read all of the bible still thinks the Jews killed Yeshua. When he said they were not really Jews, that is what he was speaking of. But, xtianity – They speak false words all the time. That is hatred, not love. No thanks to that kind of “love”.

    • It’s called hebron. trollolol

  3. You’re completely delusional if you think a one state solution would result in a peaceful democracy like America. Far more likely is a repressive, Islamist regime like that of the rest of the Middle East.

    • So lets continue apartheid. Yay !!!

      • Barasheit says:

        Please look up the definition of the world. Anything inside the borders of Israel does not apply. Ignorance. I see your profile is private. Mine is open if you want to hear the truth.

      • Professor Eugene V. Rostow, a drafter of UN_Security Council Resolution 242 and an international law expert, went on record in 1991 to make this clear:
        “Resolution 242, which as Undersecretary of State of Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969, I helped to produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. … Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines, but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries, agreed upon by the parties”.

        • Does the UN agree with him. No.. End of story.

        • BigSticksWalkSoftly says:

          Thanks for belittling the efforts of camp David and every other peace process to add the side note about a no name professor.
          The facts are that the Israeli government would rather expand territory and place it’s surrounding arab neighbors at a disadvantage while ethnically cleansing it’s indigenous Palestinian population to deal with a just peace.
          This isn’t rocket science. Just stop acting like a Nazsi and live in peace with mutual respect instead of being a carryover to old school European fascist nationalism with an invented religious twist.
          I put al Qaeda and Israeli in the same boat. Very little difference.

    • BigSticksWalkSoftly says:

      Just because you are an islamophobe with limited life experiences gives you no right to generalize and spread hate. Palestinians have every right to love in peace and harmony and it is disgusting how Israel and it’s unconditional supports don’t have a clue in regards to the struggles of your average Palestinian living under Israeli occupation

  4. “I want to love Israel, as my parents do. I want to feel a connection to my people’s historic land. However, my people’s history is one of fiercely resisting oppression, not perpetrating it, of fighting for all that is right, not defending all that is wrong.”

    For real dude. Wish Hillel didn’t bring f*cking shame on Jewish student life at Brown.

  5. Igor Epshteyn says:

    i like how in the end he says he is a radical… dear david stop being brainwashed by the BDS movement

  6. Igor Epshteyn says:

    dear david,
    if the protests are so peaceful. why are they throwing cocktail bombs at the soldiers. why doe it say in the PLO constitution that Israel has to be wiped of the map. your simplicity and lack of understanding of the complexity of the situation is mind blowing…

    • Igor
      Can you point us to the part of the PLO constitution that says Israel has to be wiped of the map ?

      • mxm123- Articles 2,3,9,18,19,20,21,22,23, and 29 of the Palestinian charter all directly or indirectly imply the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state.

        • mark – why lie ?

          The operative language of Arafat’s letter to Clinton reads:

          The Palestine National Council’s resolution, in accordance with Article 33 of the Covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the P.L.O. commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.

          As a result, Articles 6-10, 15, 19-23, and 30 have been nullified, and the parts in Articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-18, 25-27 and 29 that are inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.[11][12]

          • mxm123 Except for the fact Arafat had only appointed a legal committee to study and recommend changes to the Charter, which has yet to be officially changed by a 2/3 majority vote PNC,
            you are correct

          • It clearly states that they have been nullified. So why continue to lie ?

          • “It clearly states they have been nullified”
            I guess Tawfiq Tirawi and Abbas Zaki didn’t get the memo as they have each referred to using violence recently. Are they also liars?
            Also Palestinians are willing to say things in English that they are not willing to repeat in Arabic. So some people are worried about Hudna. Some radical Muslims like Hamas and Islamophobes think that this allows Muslims to be not completely truthful with non Muslims. Other Muslims feel that one must always keep one’s word, even to non Muslims.
            I hope you are correct, but looking at opinion polls it seems that the majority of Palestinians still support violence as an option.

          • And the excuses continue. Why lie ?

  7. thinkingthinker says:

    Hey…don’t agonize so much. just take that necklace off and nobody will be able to tell you are Jewish. but you seem to he reciting propaganda instead of your own thoughts. I think you may be one of those folks who has a hard time with grey areas. there is no strict right or wrong. Israel is not perfect and maybe since you are so torn by how to relate to Israel (along with your parental conflicts) you may benefit by trying not to idolize or demonize it. instead just go on a trip and try to observe without judgement. the world is a weird place and you will never find peace if you are so radical. also try reading the true believer by Erik hoffer. you seem to fit the archetype of the true believer.

  8. Rigggghtttttt says:

    From the Hamas Charter of 1988, “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

    Remarkably non-violent.

  9. It’s interesting that you choose to leave out the part of the story where Israel was attacked in 1948.

    And you say that “Israelis can confidently look to the sea and be assured that the Palestinians will not drive them into it.” Are we talking about the same Palestinians? Perhaps not…

  10. i don't understand says:

    You’re ashamed of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians; that it’s fair. However, are you also ashamed of its treatment of gays, which is the most tolerant in the middle east? What about its ethnic minorities, who freely and proudly serve in the military and government? Our the way the government welcomes in Jews from all over the world, no matter their color? What about gender equality? Its democratic government? In each of these areas, Israel excels, especially when comparing it to its neighbors. I never understood how disagreeing with one (albeit, crucial) policy question equated with questioning an entire people’s ideals and outstanding accomplishments.

    • Disagreeing with one policy – you mean apartheid on an entire peoples ? I guess that’s not too important when compared to Pinkwashing !!!!!

    • You have committed a shocking amount of fallacies, it hurts. Haven’t you ever taken a theory of knowledge or logic class? Education these days….

  11. Barasheit says:

    “Israel was founded in 1948 largely due to the horrendous crimes of the Holocaust” ? No, Israel was founded by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel was founded by repelling the Massacre’s of the last century as well in Palestine, not just in Germany and Russia as well. You will not find any Muslim that says they did not descend from Abraham either. Perhaps you should read sennacherib prism. He was an enemy of Israel in the 8th century BC. He himself bragged about ho he shut up King Hezekiah like a dog in Jerusalem. What you probably lack, is just how much suffering Jews have endured. There is centuries of history. Yassar Arafat and his PLO tried to take control first of Syria and also in Jordan in 1971. The quote “Palestinian” people ( no “P” in Arabic ) have been kicked out of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia because even they were to radical for moderate Muslims. 1492 spain, Stalin’s Russia, blamed for the black plague, ect, ect… There is no safe place on earth for the Jewish people from the historical record, where they should not worry about another racist generation appearing. Read the charter of Hamas, Hezbollah. Israel gave up gaza for peace in 2003 and they received over 15,000 rockets and mortars in return. I even saw a 80 year old lady who had witnessed the Hebron Massacres, call for them again. That was long before 1948. Please read history.

    • Geneveive says:

      LOL love the bible reference. I’m crying from laughter. You made my day 🙂 THE BIBLE IS HISTORICAL FACT. YOU TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THAT. TELL THEM THE JEWS BUILT THE PYRAMIDS (BEFORE THEY EXISTED), BUT STILL, TELL EM. and dont forget to mention that under 50% of all modern day Israelis have a drop of semitic or middle eastern blood, if we want to be more technical 😉

  12. David, being an idealist is so damn easy. It is so damn comfortable to say “I am
    for equal rights” or “I am for social justice.” Who could argue with that?

    The problem is, though, we live in the real world. Or at least some of us do.

    There were Jews in the late 1930s and early 1940s who were liberals like you. They supported Neville Chamberlain who told them “Hitler was a man we can work with.”

    Those Jews did not buy guns, or leave Germany, but deluded themselves into thinking the world could be a better place despite over two thousand years of the opposite being true.
    Well, David, you know how that story ended for the delusional idealists like you.

    Now Jews like you are telling themselves we can work with the Palestinians. Even though Palestinian leaders – religious and otherwise – all call for the destruction of Israel (at least they do so when speaking Arabic). But Jews like you, David, believe this time it will be different, and that their words mean more than their actions – their naming streets after child-killers.

    My advice to you, David: Live in the real world, not some fantasy world afforded you by your cushy background. Quit sounding the vapid Neville Chamberlain drone as if that makes your sh*t smell better than mine.

  13. David Katzevitch is a Joke. He proudly describes himself elsewhere as “a proud atheist and a liberal”. Here he states that he wears a star of david and wants to love Israel. This suggests he feels something for his Jewish identity. Which is it?

    • David is a chameleon. He’ll be what he needs to be to endear himself to the latest in-crowd.

    • I thought being a jew was an ethnic identity, according to you Jews at least. Funny how hypocritical some people can be 🙂

  14. Resolution 242 and 338 never branded Israel as an “unlawful occupier” or an “aggressor” and never called on Israel to withdraw from all the “territories.” The wording of the resolutions clearly reflect the contention that none of the territories were occupied land taken by force in an unjust war.
    Professor Eugene V. Rostow, a drafter of UN_Security Council Resolution 242 and an international law expert, went on record in 1991 to make this clear:
    “Resolution 242, which as Undersecretary of State of Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969, I helped to produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. … Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines, but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries, agreed upon by the parties”.

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