We cannot use victimhood to justify victimizing others

alice-rothchild
Jewish American author, physician, and human rights activist, Alice Rothchild. (credit: photo provided by the author)
An interview that tackles how Jewish victims of the Holocaust have turned into victimizers of the Palestinians and the way out of this dilemma.

By Nihan Duran | Politics Today | July 5, 2021

The idea that as a victim, I can do anything to survive, even if that means victimizing others, is morally and politically problematic. Until the Jewish community overcomes this particular way of dealing with the traumas of the Holocaust, we will never get out of this cultural psychopathology.
— Alice Rothchild

As the echoes of the global reaction to the recent human rights violations in Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza continue worldwide, Nihan Duran of Politics Today interviewed the renowned Jewish American author, physician, and human rights activist, Alice Rothchild, on how to interpret the transition from the oppressed to the oppressor and the challenges of defining, discussing and reporting the settler-colonialism in Palestine as well as the ways forward for meaningful peace advocacy and solidarity.

Q. As a Jewish American author, a human rights activist, and a physician, you have numerous works in which you critically reflect on physical realities in Israel and Palestine. Can we hear the story of who you are and how your engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian predicament has started in your own words?

My grandparents were Orthodox Jews and immigrants to the U.S. I grew up in a very traditional Jewish family, which was fairly secular. I went to a Hebrew school, I had a bat mitzvah,¹ and went to Israel when I was 14. I still have my 14-year-old diary, so I know how I felt about my trip to this magical place.

I am also a child of the sixties, so I was in college during the Vietnam war when I began to learn about colonialism, racism, and Islamophobia. Thus, I became a much more politically aware person and began to look at the world in a more political way and a less tribal, Jewish way.

This is also when I began to frame things happening in Israel and Palestine in terms of colonialism and imperialism. Over the years there were various grassroots organizations that my friends and I made and joined. I am now involved in Jewish Voice for Peace as my main organization, which I am really happy to be part of.

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