Not all Jewish people agree with the actions of the Israeli military amid Israel’s ongoing invasion of Palestine.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the student group Jews for Palestine provides a space for Jewish people in the C-U area who don’t support Zionism — the movement supporting the creation of a Jewish State in Palestinian territory.
Despite facing backlash from Zionists, the group’s president, Evan Price, has spoken out in support of Palestine at multiple local rallies.
“I think it’s really important that Jewish people in particular speak up because Israel weaponizes Jewish identity in order to commit war crimes and commit these atrocities,” Price said.
He opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories that has been happening since 1967.
Price, who was raised as a Zionist and modern Orthodox Jew, began to rethink his stance on Israel in high school. His own research into the Nakba, or “the Catastrophe” a period when 700,000 Palestinians were displaced due to Israel’s establishment, sparked this change in perspective.
“I think that I’m in a position as a Jewish person to sort of weaken the narrative that Israel has crafted that anti-Zionism is antisemitism,” Price said.
Urbana resident Veranda Armstead also opposes the idea that anti-Zionism is a hateful belief.
Armstead, who is Black and Jewish, had a different upbringing than Price. Raised in an anti-Zionist family, she was shaped by the solidarity between Black and Palestinian activists. She said her background and identity fostered a deep understanding of oppression, which led her to identify as anti-Zionist.
Throughout her life, she said has felt isolated from temples and synagogues because of her pro-Palestinian beliefs.
“We [anti-Zionist Jewish people] get a lot of comments from Zionist people, whether they’re Jewish or not, saying that we are like self-hating Jews, that we are being antisemitic, that we’re cosplaying Jews, [or] we’re not really Jews,” Armstead said.
Armstead said she’s grateful to have found community among groups like the UIUC’s Jews for Palestine.