Sara Roy

1 November 2023

Can you see the avocado?

A letter to President Biden

You call for a ‘humanitarian pause’, which I do not understand. What does a pause mean in the middle of such carnage? Does it mean feeding people so they can survive to be killed the next day? How is that humanitarian? How is that humane?

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18 January 2023

Silencing Dissent

The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) decided last year not to offer a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch (HRW). It has recently emerged that he was denied the fellowship because of his and HRW’s criticism of Israel. Roth himself and others have already addressed many of the issues raised by the HKS decision not to appoint him: threats to academic freedom; double standards when it comes to criticism of Israel; and the real or presumed role of donor pressure in determining what can and cannot be discussed in an academic setting.

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5 April 2022

The Safety of Others

It is incumbent on us to resist any initiative that drives a wedge between Jews and other oppressed groups. We must oppose all attempts to justify Israel’s abusive and discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. We must assert unapologetically that opposing Israeli apartheid is not antisemitic; it is antiracist. It is part of a larger struggle that values inclusion over exclusion, and rejects oppression in all its forms, both domestically and globally. In this way the struggle against antisemitism and other forms of racism is expressed not as the politics of identity but as the politics of identification. Such an expanded embrace of the other is not only essential to combatting antisemitism, it is also essential to the survival of Judaism as a system of ethics and morality. Our safety comes from securing the safety of others, and fighting injustice wherever it occurs.

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4 June 2018

‘There is a life behind every statistic’

Gaza appears sporadically as front-page news in the context of violence and terrorism, as it has with the murder on Friday, 1 June, of Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a 21-year-old paramedic who was fatally shot by Israeli snipers as she was treating wounded protesters along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. After a day or two of attention, usually marked by the disproportionate deaths of Palestinians, Gaza recedes from view until the next assault. Israel is part of the story but all too often cast as responding to Hamas aggression, acting in self-defence. Without excusing Hamas for its misdeeds, Gaza's misery, isolation and hopelessness are primarily a product of Israeli policy. The form of occupation may have changed since Israel’s ‘disengagement’ in 2005, but the fact of occupation has not. One result is the dehumanisation of the men, women and children who live in Gaza, the denial of their innocence and the resultant loss of their rights.

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22 March 2018

Yes, they are refugees

The recent decision by the Trump administration to drastically cut its contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has left the Palestinian refugees in a more precarious position than ever. A conference was recently held in Rome to raise money to allow UNRWA to continue its vital work providing education, health and other social services to more than five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Given a projected budget deficit of nearly $500 million in 2018, UNRWA’s funding prospects look dim.

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8 October 2010

Degrees of Loss

I recently returned to the US from a week in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. I arrived in the city on Sunday, 26 September, the day the temporary freeze on Israeli settlements was set to expire. I was staying with a friend in Sheikh Jarrah, metres away from where two Palestinian families were evicted from their homes last year; more are expected to be forced out in the coming months. As the end of the settlement freeze came and went, what struck me most about it, and about the latest round of peace negotiations of which it was a part, was their utter irrelevance to the realities of Palestinian life.

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