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I support SJP’s referendum because I’m Jewish.

May 3, 2024

This piece represents the opinion of the author .

As an American Jew, my identity motivates me to support Bowdoin Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) referendum. If I were to instead comply with the racist, genocidal actions of the Israeli government, I’d be reliving the antisemitic events experienced by Jews throughout history—except, this time, as the oppressor.

I grew up attending Hebrew School three times a week in classrooms adorned with Israeli flags and maps claiming stolen land. Each day we’d gather and blindly couple our afternoon religious service with the Hatikvah—the Israeli national anthem. Until recently, it felt impossible to distinguish my identity as a Jew from the symbolic—and structural—State of Israel. I swallowed this propaganda whole; it was expected for me to be enamored by the idea of a Jewish state.

This blurry line between my beloved religion and this state built out of the Nakba is exactly the goal of not only Prime Minister Netanyahu, but the political Zionist cause. And I’ve given them this power over me. I’ve stopped wearing my Magen David, not out of fear of my safety, but out of fear that my religious expression could be interpreted as support of Israel. I warn you against the equation of Judaism and Zionism. The misrepresentation of my religion as an inherently oppressive concept, I fear, may in and of itself be antisemitic.

I worry that Israel’s “right to defend itself” is a manifestation of using Jews’ history of being oppressed to diminish the country’s accountability for its violence. Jews aren’t “held to a higher standard” when Israel is criticized for years of murder and dislocation. They’re held to a baseline standard of humanity, self-reflection and what their religion asks of them.

I stand with Palestine because that is what my Judaism teaches me. I stand with Palestine because I don’t see the Israeli state of hope and freedom that I was promised as a child. This is not an Israel I want to fight for or one I want to claim as my own. This is one whose resources should be defunded, whose leadership should be prosecuted and whose territory should be reconsidered.

Avery Cutler is a member of the Class of 2026. 


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One comment:

  1. Marc Rosenthal ’25 says:

    Could not agree more. Thank you for saying this, Avery.

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