As children, we were led to imagine that the primarily European Jews fighting in the 1948 war had battled faceless villains intent on barring them from settling in a rightful homeland, a justified inheritance in the wake of genocide. Like so many before them, these enemies were intent on destroying the Jews yet again. Never once did we imagine that perhaps the people they fought were our cousins and siblings from long ago, whose homes and villages were being stolen beneath their feet. Never once did we fathom that Palestinian Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived side by side for hundreds of years in peace as a community. Because Zionism centers European Jews over others, even Arab Jews were left out of the narratives taught to us.
I grieve that, as children, we didn’t have a choice. The adults we loved and trusted imbued us with a sense of Zionist pride, a commitment to the unquestioned defense of this nation-state, and an ingrained colonial entitlement that this land was, in fact, exclusively ours. But how can anybody create a home on top of others’ remains? On top of stolen lives, communities, and memories?
Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.