An Invitation to Belong: Challenging the Systemic Exclusion of Palestinians as Present Absentees
Keywords: 
Palestine
Israel
Jewish community
present absentee
radical empathy
ethnography
anti-Semitism
identity
belonging
political education
Abstract: 

This essay takes as its starting place the “present absentee” status of Palestinians in U.S. and Jewish discourse and engagement with Israel/Palestine. Ethnographic fieldwork in Jewish American communities demonstrates practices that reiterate a dynamic of Jewish belonging against the presence of Palestinian absence. The essay explores different initiatives to challenge this systemic exclusion of Palestinians, including public programs that amplify Palestinian voices and normalize hearing Palestinians as experts in their own lives and an experimental study group with Jewish American leaders that centers Palestinian perspectives in an effort to cultivate radical empathy. Insights gained in these initiatives point to the importance of articulating fuller visions of community and belonging in engagement with Israel/Palestine.

Author biography: 

Sarah Anne Minkin works at the intersection of human and civil rights advocacy, education, and philanthropy, with a special focus on Israel/Palestine. She is the director of programs and partnerships at the Foundation for Middle East Peace and earned a PhD in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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