Jonathan Tate is co-chair of the Delaware Democratic Socialists of America and a member of the Philadelphia chapter of IfNotNow, a movement of mostly young American Jews opposed to the Israeli occupation.
I am proud of both my Jewish background and to have helped craft Wilmington City Councilwoman Shané Darby’s Resolution #23-065, requesting that the Delaware federal delegation support House Resolution 786, which calls for an immediate cease-fire in the current Israel-Hamas war. Councilwoman Darby represents both my childhood home in the historically Jewish Triangle Neighborhood and my vision for a peaceful, shared future between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a recent News Journal Op-Ed, Dr. Neil Hockstein said that many view this cease-fire resolution as antisemitic and that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same due to the resolution calling for a cease-fire in Israel-Palestine but not elsewhere. Let’s unpack this: “Many” is a stretch, given that over two-thirds of Americans favor a cease-fire, despite American attitudes toward Jews being generally positive in public opinion polling and that there is no evidence to suggest that, even among the minority of Americans who oppose a cease-fire, any significant number of people see such calls as antisemitic. Further, while I strongly disagree with Dr. Hockstein’s assertion that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same — especially that Jewish opposition to Zionism, both religious and secular, had existed as long as Zionism itself — there is nothing anti-Zionist about calling for a cease-fire. My first political protest ever was in opposition to the Iraq war — but this did not mean I was opposed to the American state’s existence! I am not opposed to Israel’s existence, but Councilwoman Darby and I are opposed to its war crimes of killing innocent civilians in hospitals and ambulances, just as we oppose Hamas’ war crimes of hostage taking and attacking civilians attending a music festival. Our call is for a bilateral cease-fire, not a call for universal surrender of Israel to Hamas rule.
The notion that Israel is being singled out due to its Jewish majority is also spurious. In fact, Councilwoman Darby and I actually tried to include a call for a cease-fire in the conflict in Congo in the resolution we crafted, but we were unfortunately unable to do so due to limitations of the scope of City Council legislative resolutions. While Dr. Hockstein is correct that there were no resolutions regarding the oppression of the Uyghurs or of the Darfurians or of the Ukrainians, there are also no American tax dollars going into that oppression. Neither China, Sudan nor Russia receive the billions in American military aid that Israel does, and in fact, Ukraine has received tens of billions in American assistance in repelling the Russian invasion and colonization of their country. As such, there is no need for local-level cries for help from the federal government in stopping these tragedies simply because, unlike the massacres in Palestine, it has zero leverage to stop them.
This is a time of rising antisemitism in the U.S. and here in Delaware specifically. The Chabad Center in Newark was burned to the ground, and the only Jewish community center in Delaware has faced multiple bomb threats. Let’s focus on making a more peaceful existence for Jews here in our small, tightknit state, instead of confusing the pro-peace majority of our neighbors for antisemites.
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