Unveiling Identity: The Palestinian Jews of Meah Shearim

When Israeli police arrested two protestors at a monthly march against the state on April 9, 2024 in the Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, accusing them of waving Palestinian flags and disturbing the peace, they made an unexpected discovery: members of the community carry their own identity cards. When asked for his state-issued identity card, one of the men instead showed the police a card written partly in Hebrew and partly in Arabic. The card displayed the words ‘Palestinian Jew’ in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, against the background of the Palestinian flag, and was titled ‘Certificate of the one who refuses to bow down’ – referencing the story of the Megillah, in which Mordechai refused to bow to the anti-Semite Haman.

The card read: ‘This certifies that [name] is a Jew who believes that the Torah governs his private life as well as political matters, and he is ready to stand up with self-sacrifice against any government calling itself Jewish that does not recognize the authority of our holy Torah, should that government try to control him.’
The publicity surrounding the card brought to light the fact that hundreds of members of this community carry similar ID cards, consider themselves Palestinian Jews, and await the peaceful dismantlement of the State of Israel.

During the arrests, the entire community rallied together to block the van carrying the arrested protestors, demonstrating their solidarity and resistance against the police actions. The protestors were part of a monthly peaceful demonstration against the State. The police carrying out the arrests were disguised as Orthodox Jews, just as they have used Arab disguises when operating in the West Bank. After the arrests, the community came out in even larger numbers to join the anti-Zionist march, support the arrestees, and demand their release.

Meah Shearim’s Jews are no strangers to police oppression and brutality. Recently, police have stepped up their operations in the neighborhood, trying to enforce a ban on displaying the Palestinian flag. But the residents refuse to be intimidated and continue to resist proudly and openly.

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