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BIJOCSM Open Letter to Defund the Police
***If you identify as a Black Jew, Indigenous Jew, Non-Black Jew of Color, Sephardim or Mizrahim Jew who would like to sign on to our letter, please do so on this form and share widely.***
Our beloved Jewish community,
We are Black Jews, Indigenous Jews, non-Black Jews of Color, Sephardim and Mizrahim Jews, (BIJOCSM), and we write to you at a juncture when the centuries-long oppression of Black people in this country, and around the world, can no longer be denied or dismissed.
We write to you at a juncture when simply echoing the calls rising through the clouds of tear gas around the country is not enough: The current uprising led by Black people demands concrete commitments that are significant and long-lasting.
As BIJOSCM, we call on all American Jews to divest from police, and urge that all Jewish institutions, community centers, synagogues and Jewish spaces of prayer end their partnerships with the police. We invite you to work with us to collectively imagine ways to keep each other safe, ways that pose no danger to Black Jews in our shuls or to Black people in our communities and neighborhoods.
The systems of violence and inequality responsible for police brutality are deeply seated in our society, and it will take time and commitment to undo them. We must come together in community to fight the notion that violent policies targeting some communities could somehow create safety for other communities. We must question mainstream Jewish institutions’ alignment with law enforcement. We must also challenge the ties between U.S. Police departments and Israeli police and the Israel Defense Forces – they are inexorably linked, through the exchange of training and oppressive tactics that result in harm to Black people, people of color and immigrants in our own cities, and Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
More policing and militarization will never make our world safer. The onus is on us to reimagine safety and create a world where the safety of some is not premised on the brutal oppression of others.
As BIJOCSM, we are painfully aware of the rise of antisemitism and white supremacy. We understand the fear of being attacked simply for being who we are – and we still believe in our capacity to show up for each other. We believe that we can work together to ensure that no Jew feels unwelcome or unsafe in any Jewish communal space and especially in Jewish spaces of prayer.
Divesting from police and ending all partnerships with police forces is the bare minimum we can do. It is just one step in a much larger fight against anti-Blackness, racism, antisemitism and white supremacy.
As Jews, we have a responsibility to “repair the world” – and build communities that are just and affirming for Black people, indigenous people, people of color, disabled people, trans people, queer people and immigrants. But to repair the world we must start in our homes. We ask that all communal Jewish institutions, synagogues and Jewish spaces of prayer divest from police and end their partnerships with police and armed forces.
Now more than ever, it is crucial to imagine and develop communal safety alternatives (click here for some examples:
). It is crucial to listen to and follow the leadership of Black people in the fight to defund the police.
In love and solidarity,
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
If Not Now
Never Again Action
Researching the American-Isreali Alliance
Unruly: A social and racial justice blog by the Jews of Color and Sephardi / Mizrahi Caucus organized in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace
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