Jewish Social Justice
About Oy Vey Acts
Oy Vey Acts is a grassroots Jewish movement located in the Netherlands that advocates for an inclusive Dutch society. It is part of Oy Vey, which is a cultural Jewish hub in Amsterdam.
Oy Vey Acts advocates for Jewish social justice in the Netherlands. We understand that many Jews who want to become vocal about social justice issues will come from different backgrounds and hold different perspectives on different topics. We believe it is normal to have differences in opinion, to be different. In fact, we celebrate our differences as starting points of conversation and of collective (un)learning.
Oy Vey Acts is an intersectional movement
Oy Vey Acts is part of an intersectional network of activists that challenge discrimination and oppression, work for positive change, and build allyships both within and without Jewish communities.
- We center the margins. We center our social justice on those marginalized by mainstream society, whether that is due to antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, or any other oppressions.
- Solidarity is survival. Our fate is linked to the welfare of all of those marginalized by society. This is something we know deep in our bones.
- We are all in this together. We understand that all forms of oppression uphold one another and that our safety lies in solidarity and allyship.
Bring together Jewish activists and the broader activist community to engage in deep dialogue to raise awareness that true intersectionality includes Jews. Contribute to the recognition of Jewish voices in activist spaces through creating safe spaces for Jews and building alliances between Jews and non-Jewish activists.
Bring an end to antisemitism in the Netherlands and in Europe. Challenge both overt and latent antisemitism in organizations, politics, and individuals. Sound the alarm about the ways that antisemitic sentiments and rhetoric are creeping back into the mainstream via propaganda and conspiracy thinking.
- Antisemitism is no joke. Antisemitism is a warning sign of dangerous times and must be opposed.
- Antisemitism must be confronted. When antisemitism is so entrenched that it can seem invisible, it must be actively understood and confronted or it will persist.
- Antisemitism is not an excuse for oppression. Antisemitism must not be weaponized to justify the oppression of any other groups, including Palestinians and Muslims.
- Antisemitism is connected to all forms of oppression. We oppose all forms of oppression and exclusion, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, transphobia, and homophobia. Systematic and institutional racism is a danger to us all and a threat to peace, justice, and the climate.
Oy Vey Acts is independent. We are not connected to any one political party or view in the Netherlands and/or Israel.
Building this movement of Jewish activists has been…interesting and challenging, especially since we began just before the COVID pandemic. A lot of the activities and events we had planned were disrupted, and we had to learn new ways of connecting. We shared flurries of chats, zoomed, took walks, and commented on documents. In the meantime, we read, listened to podcasts, and wrote: all with the idea that these things would inform our activism and help us develop plans and principles.
Here we tip our proverbial hat to Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. Their document on antisemitism is a must read and has been enormously helpful to us. And the way they describe their core values is inspiring. We have used their language as a springboard for our own.
- All Jews are Jewish! Queer, straight, questioning, patrilineal, matrilineal, Jews by choice… all Jewish. Kosher keeping, bacon eating, argumentative or conflict averse…all Jewish. Beta Israel, Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Mizrachi…all Jewish. Even that guy with the opinions you hate who makes your head explode…Jewish.
- We are a home for Jews in the Netherlands to come together, share ideas, and to connect and organize with allies for a Netherlands where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to thrive.
- We show up for others and for ourselves. We are committed to human rights as the basis for social justice. We know that all forms of oppression are intertwined. Organizing against antisemitism means organizing against racism and other forms of oppression. Solidarity is survival.
- We take care of ourselves and each other. We nourish ourselves through the rhythms, traditions, and rituals of our ancestors. We take care to rest (Shabbat), time for redemption and grief (Yom Kippur), time to mark opposition to slavery past and present (Pesach) and celebrate climate justice (Sukkot, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, and Tu’Bishevat).
- We do our best to create safe spaces. We try to make spaces that are inclusive and safe.
- We believe that consent is a mitzvah. We check in on each other to make sure that we consent to all aspects of our activism together. When harm is done, we reach out to those harmed. We engage in teshuvah, individually and as a community.
- We commit to deep dialogue and patience. Even when it’s difficult. We embrace the idea that we can be different, disagree, and be imperfect, even as we come together in challenging discrimination and oppression. We are willing to learn and change and communicate in good faith.
- We have boundaries. We know that inclusion requires boundaries. We do not tolerate actions or speech that dehumanizes others or ourselves.
We are often asked about Israel/Palestine.
- We are a Dutch organization with a Jewish signature. We are working for an inclusive society in the Netherlands.
- We are not a mouthpiece for Israel and are politically independent.
- Jews do not represent the state of Israel. It is not ok to demand a position from Jews about Israel just because they are Jewish. We say this both to the Jewish community we are part of and the activist community we organize with. Conflating Jews with Israel diminishes activism in the Netherlands and prevents many of us from participating fully and openly.
- Jewish liberation includes Palestinian liberation. Although Israel/Palestine is not our field of activism we cannot stress enough that for us, intersectional justice includes Palestinian liberation. All struggles are tied together.
- A thriving Jewish community is one that has honest conversations, especially when it’s difficult. Because of the very recent trauma the Jews of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe have experienced and the efforts to rebuild a fragile community, there remains a hyper-awareness of the dangers that can threaten us individually and as a group. For many in the Jewish communities, this has led to unquestioned support for the state of Israel and a fear that any criticism at all puts us all in danger. We understand this, yet challenge it. A thriving Jewish community needs to be able to have honest conversations about this, especially when it is difficult. We support and make space for these conversations where and when we can.
Solidarity and allyship
A humanitarian disaster is taking place in Moria at this moment (September 2020) after the devastating fires in the refugee camp . We are considering ways in which we can create positive change in this situation. On the 24th of September we co-signed this call to action in the Dutch newspapers Trouw, AD & de Volkskrant together with a non-organised jewish group of concerned citizens from different backgrounds called Cohen&Co. Share and amplify this call to action.
Black Lives Matter
As a community response to the global demonstrations agains structural racism and policy brutality, we composed a solidarity statement that was signed by over 200 individuals from the broader Jewish community. You can still sign it in solidarity with people of color everywhere, including within our own communities.
Following the writing of the statement, we produced a Black Lives Matter kippa which is for sale in our krom. All proceeds go to BLM in support.
“In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel