LEARN FROM STRUGGLE
When I stood in the grounds of Mt Zion Church in Philadelphia, Mississippi, last October looking at the tribute stone to Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney, the two young Jews who died with an African-American trying to bring equality of opportunity to blacks in the American South, I felt both proud and humble to be Jewish ( JC essay. June 27). Two years earlier, I sat in a Palestinian home in the West Bank watching film taken by the family of attacks on them by Jewish settlers. My feeling on that occasion was one of anger and shame.
Being a critical friend of your country is a fundamental element of democracy. That much is recognised by Israel’s politicians. A diaspora Jew, however, is not afforded the same right. Community leaders have accepted the official, but unhealthy Israel narrative that to criticise Israel is to be an enemy of Israel.
Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were part of the successful struggle to make their government recognise that all those who lived under its control were entitled to the same civil rights. Let us British Jews use the 50th anniversary of the death of the civil rights workers to reawaken our commitment to human rights, and shed our inhibitions in expressing constructive criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, for the benefit of us all. Roger Winfield Patshull Road, London NW5