Always Jewish, lately Palestinian

I am Jewish because the love of others made me so.

I am Jewish because I grew up on the South Side of Chicago; there even my public school was Jewish.

I am Jewish because my grandfather was oh, so Jewish, and I felt it then and feel it now.

I am Jewish because angry Irish boys felt my Jewish nose at the end of their Catholic fist.

I am Jewish because we are commanded to remember when we were slaves in Egypt and I do.

I am Jewish because we are commanded to seek justice and because I believed my teachers who said we must do so.

I am Jewish because I have never felt any other way.

I am Jewish because dissent is my faith and my chosen fate.

I am Jewish because I learned Hebrew and then forgot nearly every word of it.

I am Jewish because in my grandmother’s kitchen nothing would rise, but of everything there was plenty.

I am Jewish because the South Shore Country Club was founded by people who would not let us in.

I am Jewish because my Dad once slugged a guy at Comiskey Park who cussed a Jewish pitcher for the White Sox.

I am Jewish because the Jewish god is not diminished by my disbelief.

I am Jewish because Dad was thrilled that Grandpa lived to my Bar Mitzvah and a little beyond.

I am Jewish because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am Jewish because Emma Goldman was Jewish, and so was Karl Marx and so was Groucho Marx and Jesus, too, for that matter.

I am Jewish because of the Maccabees and Masada and crusader violence and Spanish inquisitors and Cossack pogroms and the ghetto and the death camps and because I also planted trees in Israel.

I am Jewish because Jewish workers fight in labor struggles and because Jewish people resist racism and because poor Jews endure.

I am Jewish because being Jewish means never using violence against another except when life, itself, is directly threatened, and that principle must never be compromised.

I am Jewish because with that claim I also claim my humanity and in my humanity

I find this:

I am Palestinian because I, too, have been homeless.

I am Palestinian because Palestinian yearning is so like Jewish yearning.

I am Palestinian because I have been uplifted by the love of Palestinians.

I am Palestinian because peace in Arabic and in Hebrew bestows the same gift.

I am Palestinian because we are all children of Abraham.

I am Palestinian because, although Sarah and Hagar are our separate birth mothers, we all live in the embrace of one mother, and will return to her.

I am Jewish because if you come for the Jews, why not me also?

I am Palestinian because if you come for the Palestinians, why not me also?





Jeff Epton is a freelance writer and political activist who is currently working on a poetry project with elementary school children in Washington, D.C.