It is daunting when I reflect that I have been involved as a Zionist peace activist for 45 years. In that time the Jewish world has changed dramatically. One thing, however, has not changed. Today, like then, there are many thousands of young American Jewish pro-Israel peace activists who are as passionate and engaged in this movement as I was. I see the thousands at J Street Conferences as part of J Street U, and they are not only committed as Jews and ohavei m’dinat Yisrael (lovers of the state of Israel), but intelligent, sophisticated, politically savvy, and driven by the best of liberal Jewish values.
Rachel Sandalow-Ash is one of them. She is the Co-Founder and Director of Open Hillel, a student-led campaign to change Hillel’s policies to better reflect the American Jewish community’s values of pluralism and inclusivity.
“As a young activist, it is so easy for my generation to imagine that we are fighting a battle against elders who have betrayed us. The American Jewish Peace Archive lets us know otherwise by connecting young activists to those who for decades have worked for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine and for open and honest conversations in the United States. It enables us to learn from the experiences of older activists and to build an intergenerational movement that provides for support and mentorship across generations.”
This past year I was interviewed by one of my fellow older peace activists, Aliza Becker, who has founded the American Jewish Peace Archive (AJPA). I first met Aliza when she served on the national staff of J Street. She is now Associate Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College, and she has just launched the AJPA and its new website – http://ajpeacearchive.org/. The website, she says, “initiates the sharing of stories from a rapidly growing archive of over 100 pioneers for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
As I scrolled through the photographs of these hundred people in which I am proud to be included, I saw the faces and names of people I have known or heard about for decades.
This website is an important addition to the peace movement because so often young Jews today do not realize how long this struggle for a two-state solution has been going on. They feel very much alone in their struggle and so often find themselves on the defensive from the far right and the far left on college campuses. Now there is an address where they can learn more about what has gone on before them, and gain strength from the example, courage and inspiration in the 50-year story of American Jewish peace activism.
It is written in the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 25b): “Blessed is the generation in which teachers listen to their students [i.e. the old listen to the young]; and doubly blessed is the generation in which students listen to their teachers [i.e. the young listen to the old].”
I encourage you to take a look at the website – http://ajpeacearchive.org/. – and support its important work.
To Aliza – Yasher kochachech!