While I have always strongly identified with my Jewish heritage and have maintained more-or-less the same opinions about it, that is not the case with Israel. Throughout my life, the significance of Israel has shifted dramatically from an object of indifference, to one of profound discomfort, and now to one of increasingly frequent pain. Some of that has been self-directed and self-inflicted, but like most people in the United States, my familiarity with Israel has increased with an increase in the discussion of Israel in mainstream and leftwing discourses. And like most people on the Left today – a category I do not entirely identify with – that familiarity has been focused through the lens of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
One would think that as the son of two Jewish parents who was raised with a Reform synagogue’s Bar Mitzvah preparations, I would be more informed about Israel than my political peers; however, if I began life a few steps further in my education on Israel, I didn’t keep apace or speed up. Instead, I avoided the topic like one avoids a deep, dark, and dangerous cave where who only knows what lurks within. Physically, I refused to go on any birthright trips when I had the opportunities and in my imagination I refused to go through ignorance, barely capable of finding Israel on a map.
Some of this began to change when I learned about Anarchists Against the Wall, but only enough to know what side of the so-called conflict I should be on as an anarchist. Around this time, I had also been in active protest against border militarization in the United States, demonstrating with thousands of others in the streets of Phoenix, AZ, and connecting the importance of free movement across the border with free movement within that was being encroached upon by traffic surveillance systems. Free movement in Palestine wasn’t much further of a leap from there. I had merely generalized a value geographically that I already affirmed, so that is to say that I didn’t learn a lot more about Israel or Palestine.