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30 Dec, 2012

A Message From the Chair of Jewish Voice for Peace


This is what I know: Each of us has the power to change – and when we do, the world changes, too.

I know this because I changed.

My name is Rebecca Subar, and I’m the Board Chair of Jewish Voice for Peace. It’s a role that would have seemed ridiculous 30 years ago when I was living as a settler in Gaza. I hope that after reading a bit of my story, you will support change by donating, today, to Jewish Voice for Peace.

I grew up in a warm, strictly observant Jewish family in western New York. When I was eight we first visited my cousins in a farm village north of Tel Aviv, and my senses remember it best: jasmine, and singing on a truck ride to the sea.

I was a teenager in the ‘70s and for the most part, the hippest causes matched my family’s values. They cared about racial justice, education reform, and ending war.  My first political troublemaking was on behalf of Israel, trying to get my synagogue youth group in line with the new West Bank Jewish settler movement. It was the edgy, exciting way to live a political dream. And, I thought, the right thing to do.

Alas, I learned, it was not so simple.

In 1982, I went with my own young family to live my dream of being part of the settlement movement. Our lives were deeply entwined with our love for Jewish everything.

The spring we were there, Ariel Sharon — then Israel’s Minister of Agriculture — came to speak at the ground-breaking for the new regional yeshiva, a house of study.  Jewish protesters came, leftists opposed to the new settlements. One of them approached me — to my surprise, someone I recognized — Michael, a friend from home. He asked, “Rebecca you can’t seriously be part of this injustice, can you? Do you know there are Palestinians living down the road, and this is their land?”

It made my head spin. How could we be doing anything unjust? Justice was something our people did. Settling our land was justice. Our community was good to our Arab neighbors. Our rabbis talked with their sheikhs. Michael’s comment was so off, so wrong.

But my friend had planted a seed that day — a seed that wracked my head and made painful space for new information and new doubts. In a brief space of time, these doubts, and my deeper-down belief in equality and fairness, occupied my entire awareness and prompted me to fundamentally change my life.

So, you could say I am living proof that people change.

People have the power and responsibility to live into the change they believe in, to speak their truths in order that others – and so the world – can change too.

I am part of Jewish Voice for Peace because this organization gives me the tools and courage to be the person, like my friend Michael all those years ago, who says, “You’ve got to live your beliefs, Rebecca.”  And that, friend, is the work you yourself do when you make your tax-deductible year end contribution to Jewish Voice for Peace.

In fact, some of our donors believe in this group so much that they are matching every single donation dollar-for-dollar up until December 31st.

The sweet smell of Jasmine still tugs at my memories, and I still sing the beautiful old songs with my family. They are an important part of my history. Just as justice is, not just for my family, my neighbors, my people, but for everyone who shares this planet. For Palestinians and for Jews, equally.

I hope you’ll join me today with your donation. Thank you for reading. Thank you for donating. Thank you for singing and for joining me in honoring our mutual belief in justice for all people.


Rebecca Subar, Board Chair
Jewish Voice for Peace