Our comrade, Jola Litwitz-Aljakhbeer, gave a heartfelt speech at the protest against the recent Scotland Israel football match, demonstrating to the world that Jews can care about the injustice being committed by Israel against the Palestinians, just as non-Jews can. Her speech was widely shared, and so, predictably, David Collier – self-appointed defender of Zionism – has repeated his claims that Jola is antisemtic and not Jewish. Clearly, if we believed either of those things were true, she wouldn’t be part of our organisation, but they are not true.
Jola is fully conscious that she has, in the past (and despite her own background), shared some facebook posts that she should have recognised as antisemitic. She was angry at what was happening in Palestine, she was looking to make sense of it, she was naïve and not aware of how the internet is swamped by unreliable – often far-right – sources. A few years on, there is much greater general awareness of the way conspiracy theories thrive on the net, though that certainly hasn’t stopped people sharing them. Jola shared a lot of things, and in among them, as Collier has dug out, were a few antisemitic conspiracy theory posts. She knows now that sharing them was unquestionably wrong, and that the only people who benefit from such posts are the far right. She is not proud of what she did; but she should be proud of the work she has put in since to study the reality of what is happening from reliable sources and to use her knowledge to support her strong Jewish voice against oppression. Collier may want to live in a world where people have no chance to learn from their errors and are forever dammed. We would rather look for and support genuine repentance, self-education and redemption.
With respect to her Jewishness, Jola writes
My grandmother Stefania Litwitz was a Jew. She raised me and I am very proud of my Jewish heritage. She didn’t raise me to support apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and I know she would be proud looking at HER Jewish values I hold dearly in my heart. That’s why I will continue signing every letter with my family surname – with my grandmother’s surname – without shame, but with pride. And I don’t need anyone’s permission to do so.
Collier not only wants to associate all Jews with the Israeli state (a position that is itself racist in its assumption of a shared politics) but also assumes the right to decide who is or who is not a Jew. Both David Collier and Jola Litwitz-Aljakhbeer are Jewish, and neither can speak for all Jews. But we are glad to have Jola, with her empathy and compassion, speak for us – and we are proud to call her a comrade.