My heart is breaking. I no longer feel safe or welcome in Split This Rock.
Staff released this statement last Friday, in the evening, without any notice to the board. The fact that there is no mention of Hamas’ violent attacks, murders, and kidnappings — of Israelis, Americans, people of many other nationalities, children, the elderly, the disabled — in this message is deeply troubling.
Hamas’ attacks on October 7 must be condemned. Those attacks were terrorism, were a pogrom against Jews — they were not liberation, they cannot be justified. To say free Palestine without acknowledging the terrorist attacks perpetrated against Jews and others on October 7, to say Israel is an apartheid state, to use Zionism in this way, to imply that Israelis deserve any of this is antisemitic and dangerous. Antisemitic hate crimes are already increasing. Anti-Muslim hate crimes as well. And language like this will add to that.
And also, the Israeli government’s response must be condemned. War must be condemned. Killing and targeting civilians of any religion, race, ethnicity must be condemned.
I support Palestinians and want them to experience peace. I’m also Jewish with family who lives in Israel, and want Jews and Arabs and all who live in Israel to experience peace. I truly wish, and thought, that Split This Rock would provide a strong, just voice, especially in times of crisis and war. But to be so one-sided, to not even mention the atrocities Hamas committed, to not even call for the release of hostages; this signals to me that Jewish lives don’t matter, this signals to me that Split This Rock is justifying the death and kidnapping of civilians; it could have been my brother, my dad, my stepmom, my cousins. It could have been me.
I resigned as a board member last Friday, and felt it important to share why publicly. I know that a heart-centered poetry community, one that explores nuance and encourages dialogue and all the complexities of the world and uplifts all people of all backgrounds, exists. I know that poetry has the power to bear witness to injustice and push for change. And I’ll continue searching for that community and creating space for others.
Shortly after the October 7th attack on Israelis, and subsequent retaliation by the Israeli army on innocent civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, I received a call from poets. Kathryn Levy and Kathy Engel wanted to create a collaborative cento, a patchwork or collage poem, in response.
Amidst rising antisemitism as well as islamophobia, I believe it is vital for humanity to retain connection, community, compassion. I felt called to contribute to a collaborative poem about the ongoing horrors, a poetic collaboration for peace and justice. “Ceasefire Cento” is an urgent call to recognize our collective humanity, to bring the hostages home, to end war, to end death, to free Palestine from Hamas, to ensure Jews can live in safety, to ensure Arabs can live in safety, to let children be children.
I’m honored to have a few lines in this collaborative cento, along with other writers I truly admire and am in awe of appearing on the same pages with. Here are my lines:
"Never again happens again and again ... The death toll climbs, numbers so vast I can't even picture them."
The poem was published by Vox Populi on November 13.
Please take care in reading the poem, and please take care of yourselves and others in these terrifying times.