Jaclyn Best: Walking on Eggshells Over Palestine

"Because of my experience living in Israel and learning from my Palestinian friends, I am definitely a lot more sympathetic than maybe the majority of the American Jewish population."
By | Apr 17, 2024
JPVP 2024
Jaclyn Best

This interview is part of Moment’s Jewish Political Voices Project. To learn more about the project, click here. To see our other participants, click here. To see all posts from Jaclyn, click here.

Age: 32
Occupation: Synagogue administrator

Location: Boulder, CO
Party Registration: Independent
Jewish Denomination: Renewal
Current 2024 Vote: Joe Biden
2020 Vote: Joe Biden
News Sources: Instagram, NPR, The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian

What has your response been to the October 7 terror attacks?

Personally, it’s just been really hard on me. And because I swing left, and a lot of that is because of my experience living in Israel and learning from my Palestinian friends, I am definitely a lot more sympathetic than maybe the majority of the American Jewish population. It’s just been really devastating. From that perspective, I’m working for a Jewish institution. And on top of that, I think our congregation is a little more progressive than others in Boulder, but I still felt like I was kind of having to walk on eggshells in my role, like not being able to share how I felt. And it’s just, it’s really hard for American Jews to talk about Israel and the Middle East together.

What do you think of Biden’s performance as president?

I think he did a decent job with the infrastructure bill. That did a lot for climate and environmental mitigation efforts. I could critique it and say they didn’t go far enough. But I know a lot of folks that are more active in climate lobbying, and in legislation who said it, yeah, they could have gone further, but it was really good for what we had, and there’s a lot of money that’s going to go towards climate mitigation and adaptation, that was not there before. So, that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

I’m not so happy with how he dealt with COVID. I think we had a lot of high hopes when he got elected. And I think he kind of dropped the ball there. I know there are a lot of folks who are immunocompromised, that if they get it, it could become long COVID, or they could potentially die. And I think the policies just kind of forgot about, you know, disabled folks.

How has your Judaism affected your politics?

Yeah. I was definitely raised with a strong sense of tikkun olam. You know, repairing the world and, and the importance of community. In America, one of our mythologies is that you can do it yourself, right? The whole bootstraps metaphor and everything. I think, in actuality, it’s absolutely not true. We can’t do anything without others, without community.

Are you worried at all about antisemitism?

I follow people who were friends of mine on Instagram that are so far left that they are posting things that are pretty blatantly antisemitic. It’s pretty unsettling. And you can be pro-Palestinian while also not being antisemitic. Jews do not equal the government of Israel. There are American institutions that are supporting Israel, but that doesn’t mean that I, as a Jewish person, agree with everything the Israeli government does.

And I think there is also a narrative of if you support Palestinians’ right to exist, then you’re a self-hating Jew. And I have heard that even within my congregation, and so, again, that’s somewhere where I feel kind of stuck.

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