Ma’ayaam Pe’er awoke in Tel Aviv Oct. 7 to the sound of bombs and rockets, and then spent the next four days in and out of bomb shelters. But, despite being in danger themself Ma’ayam’s first worry that day was, “What violence is Israel going to levy against the Palestinians?”
Oct. 7 was the day Gazan militants breached the fence separating Gaza from southern Israel, invading kibbutzim and a popular music festival, which resulted in the death of some 1,2000 Israelis, as well as many of the Palestinian militants. The Gazan forces also took 240 Israelis and other Jews hostage, and brought them back to Gaza. Pe’er identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns “they” and “their.”
“Being a Jew is incompatible with being a Zionist,” they said.
Pe’er, a 24-year-old Petaluma resident with duel American/Israeli citizenship, was visiting their mother and sister who live in Tel Aviv. Although they grew up with the same Zionist beliefs as their Israeli immigrant parents, they had been questioning those beliefs and come to the conclusion that the way the Israeli government was treating its Palestinian neighbors was against the basic precepts of their Jewish religion.
In a telephone interview, Pe’er said they were still a Zionist in high school, at around 14 or 15, but by 18 or 19, when they moved out of the family home, “The more I saw, the more I began to question.”
Pe’er is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and began to recognize that the oppression their grandparents suffered was similar to the oppression the Palestinians are suffering.
Which is why Pe’er attended a ceasefire rally in Sacramento Jan. 3, the day the California legislature began its 2024 session. They were among 500 other Jewish Palestinian supporters, and allies, who had come to request the help from their state legislators that their federal representatives were failing to provide.
During the protest, called by Jewish Voice for Peace and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the group gathered in both the Assembly session and in the Capitol rotunda, singing Jewish songs and prayers, calling for ceasefire and dropping banners from the balcony of the Assembly room that said, “Jews say no to US funding of Israel’s genocide of Palestinians.”
There were no arrests.
“For three months,” Pe’er said, “I had been calling my federal legislators every day, but they failed to respond to my request for a ceasefire.’
So, Pe’er considered, “California has been in the forefront of progressive movements — the ones we all care about, like housing and medical care. I was hoping that our state legislators could throw their weight around with our federal legislators. It is pathetic how much California taxpayer money goes to Israel, $609 million each year (based on the percentage of federal taxes Californians pay and the percentage of U.S. taxes goes to Israel).”
Currently, the U.S. Congress sends $3.8 billion annually to Israel, and President Biden has pledged another $14.3 billion to help Israel continue its war against Gaza.
Meanwhile, almost 23,000 Gazans have died as a result of Israel’s air and land attack against Gaza. Dec. 12, the United Nations General Assembly voted for a ceasefire resolution, with 153 nations in favor, 10 — including the U.S. — opposed, and 23 abstained.