LEARN FROM STRUG­GLE

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

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

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