Maybe you know Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace Deputy Director. She's smart and tireless, passionate and committed. And, without a doubt, she is one of my heroes.
Turns out, I'm far from the only one that thinks so. A young rabbinical student and member of JVP's Rabbinical Council nominated Cecilie for the Jewish Federations' Community Heroes Award. We knew what nominating someone like Cecilie means for our movement: recognition of the many many Jews, young and old, who support equality, democracy and human rights for Palestinians and Israelis.
We let folks know about Cecilie's nomination on Twitter and on Facebook, just like the competition organizers suggested. And Cecilie was steadily running in 9th or 10th place in the voting among thousands of nominees. We couldn't have been more proud—or more excited about her moving on to the semi-finals as part of the Top 10.
And then...suddenly...she was gone. In what can only be considered an act of fear and discrimination, the Jewish Federations of North America removed her nomination.
I wish I could say I was surprised. But, sadly, I'm not. This is what happens when you speak the truth with and for the hundreds of thousands Jews and friends in this country and beyond—those of us who are not represented by the large Jewish institutions, the self-appointed spokespeople—and, apparently, gatekeepers—of who belongs in the Jewish community.
It's certainly not the most important issue we're dealing with. But it is so indicative of the attempt to engineer what is acceptable to talk about, think about, and care about in the Jewish community that we just can't take it sitting down.
Standing up is what we do. It's what Cecilie does, it's why she was nominated, and why she was winning.
Sign the petition to the Jewish Federations of North America:
We are writing to you today in the spirit of our shared history to say one thing:
It is simply unacceptable for you to have removed Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace activist, from your Jewish Community Heroes nomination list.
It is censorship. It is fear-based. It is not what being Jewish means. And it is wrong.
Here's another thing: removing Cecilie from your list doesn't remove us - all of us who believe in a peaceful solution for Israelis and Palestinians - from the world. We're here. We aren't going anywhere. We will keep raising our voices. All we ask is that you keep listening.
This action will not silence us. We are more committed than ever to keep speaking up.