A Response to JIMENA from Sephardi and Mizrahi JVP members
This statement was collectively written by a group of Sephardi and Mizrahi members and staff of JVP.
We read with great sadness the response from JIMENA to JVP’s Zionism statement. As Mizrahim and Sephardim in the diaspora, and as JVP members, we see our interests in fighting for the dignity and safety of our people as directly connected to the dignity and safety of all people in Palestine/Israel, including Mizrahim and Sephardim.
We know the Sephardi and Mizrahi communal organizations named in the JIMENA statement understand all too well how much isolation we experience in American Jewish communities. Our histories and languages are lost and devalued. We often have to fight, by ourselves, to get access to and recognition of our stories. We are grateful to the Sephardi and Mizrahi organizations who do this important work, so often underfunded, overlooked and without recognition for the road they have paved for the rest of us. Despite our political differences, we’re uninterested in tearing them down.
It is therefore all the more painful to be told that our voices and experiences don’t matter, that we aren’t welcome, or that we aren’t a legitimate part of the broader Sephardi and Mizrahi community because we speak out against the negative impact of Zionism and colonialism. We know those traumas are not in the past, but are very much in the present, informing the struggles our communities face. JIMENA portrays our work in fighting for justice for Palestine as naive at best or malevolent at worst, but we acknowledge the antisemitism and displacement that has shaped our identities and has obscured our heritage. We refuse to be divided from Palestinians and told that we as Jews deserve more rights than they do. We refuse to have our stories used to justify the divisions between us and our non-Jewish neighbors.
While we mourn the decision of these organizations to erase us from Mizrahi and Sephardi community, we know that they do not represent us. We are building new communities as part of a liberated future for everyone in Palestine/Israel. And we welcome everyone who wants to build with us.