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The Jewish Persistence Pledge

We, Jews in an anti-Black world, reflect on 400 years of Black resistance to white supremacy, and we rejoice that this tide continues to spread. We include Black Jews and non-Black Jews, and we understand: Every victory for Black freedom is a victory for the future all human beings deserve.

When a movement this powerful arises, powerful tools will arise to stop it. History shows that antisemitism is such a tool. Through both real incidents and false accusations, antisemitism works to tear apart movements for justice. It works to divide movements, and to distract from the original liberation issues being pursued; to make activists question whether they can trust one another; and to frighten Jews away from fighting with our whole hearts for these struggles. 

We have decided: This time, we will be ready.

We pledge to remain in this growing movement against white supremacy, even when real antisemitism happens - as it will, because the most well-intentioned human beings are still learning, and all movements are works in progress. There will be real antisemitism. There will be incidents with gray areas which make us feel unsure. There will be false charges of antisemitism, designed by opponents to push our movements back, push our people out, and push us apart from our non-Jewish partners with whom we share this vision of change. When things get hard, we pledge to reach out to other Jews for strength and creative solutions, and support each other to stay in the movement.

We will be true to ourselves. We will not be silent if antisemitism arises. We will support each other to address concerns about antisemitism thoughtfully and deliberately - without distracting from Black organizers’ primary work, without targeting Black leaders, and without dividing ourselves from others. Our non-Jewish partners are worthy of our highest expectations. We will remember how capable our partners are of learning about and dismantling antisemitism, as we all rise together to meet the challenges of this moment.

 

We will see opportunities. When the reality of danger to Jews today makes us feel that we cannot stay in coalition, we will push ourselves to look for new and deeper connections. We will become adept at recognizing not just who our allies are, but who can become our allies, treating other people's learning process with the generosity that every human deserves, and remembering that we can heal from hurtful words spoken in ignorance. We will build meaningful relationships with non-Jews in this work, knowing that it takes time for all people to hone our skills as allies, and that we emerge from conflicts best when we come to them already invested in each other as individuals. 

We can learn how to do this: how to uproot antisemitism not by fighting or fleeing but by planting deep roots with other people, and uncovering the intertwined roots that already exist. We are Jews in an antisemitic world: far from fragile, and not easily shocked. Just as white Jews have participated in racism - sometimes knowingly and sometimes not - it is not surprising when non-Jews in any group show that they, too, have absorbed antisemitism. It is by staying in relationships, and forging them where they don’t yet exist, that we will learn and unlearn these things together.

We will defend Black activists when charges of antisemitism are used to derail or silence the struggle for Black lives. We reject the idea that there is a special brand of “Black antisemitism.” Antisemitism is a systemic problem - we will not allow Black gentiles to be singled out for blame. We will defend ourselves against those who invalidate Black Jews’ existence, or question any of our loyalty to ourselves as Jews. 

 

We will bring our people with us. We Jews who are not Black pledge to open this conversation with other non-Black Jews, inviting them into this pledge as a sign of our shared resolve: To stay together in this long-term commitment to fight white supremacy. We will resist the urge to give up on other Jews when we don’t agree. We will reach, with determination and compassion, to bring all Jews into this fight, where we all belong.

We will examine our own community with courage - as many of us do already, speaking out about the racism and erasure we experience in many Jewish spaces, as Jews with Black, Indigenous, Mizrahi, Sephardi and non-European heritages. 

 

For some of us - like those of us whose European ancestors were well-trained to notice the earliest signs of danger - this takes practice. When we hear Jews criticized, we feel a warning ring out inside us that we are alone, in danger, under attack. We may feel this when we hear Black non-Jews tell of encountering racism from white Jews; or when we see people naming Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and non-European Israelis as racist. We may even feel this way when we witness the powerful solidarity between Jewish and non-Jewish Black Americans and Palestinians, as two peoples facing violent racism and dehumanizing state power. 

 

When our fear of antisemitism threatens to make us shut down and turn away, we will decide to pause, to breathe, and to listen. We have lived through our history with courage. We can discuss it with courage too, and build a future where we are no longer fighting alone.

We are experts at persistence. We have outlived empires. We have been blessed to make it to this moment; to witness the possibility of building a different kind of world: a world where we may all be free to be who we are. We see a future with Black liberation, and we know that the liberation of all Jews and all people lies on that path. 

The struggle against antisemitism takes deep relationships. We will build them. 

This is a promise to ourselves.

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