Friday, July 15, 2011

Jews and the civil rights struggle

I've been reading the excellent series of books by Taylor Branch on the civil rights struggle, Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire and At Canaan's Edge

It's impossible not to draw parallels with the struggle of the Palestinians, particularly in the behavior of racist whites in the South and the majority of Israelis. Just recently, an excellent piece appeared in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that spoke of this parallel. I recommend it highly.

In reading the comments about the Haaretz article, I came across the following comment with the title "one half of the pro-civil-rights "whites" were Jews". Significantly, it received 25 thumbs up and only 4 thumbs down votes from readers.
"The article is great and completely correct - but since we're talking about Israel, tell the whole truth - half or more of the white pro-civil rights activists were Jews; Rabbi Heschel is the rabbi in the photo with Dr. King at Selma, and he quoted scripture to amazing effect in support of the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War; two of the most famous whites killed in the struggle, Schwerner and Goodman, killed in Mississippi in the summer of 1964, were Jews - and there are tens of thousands more. Don't just write for Israelis about blacks and whites in the South; they'll say it has nothing to do with us. Tell the truth - the majority of American Jews supported the civil rights movement, and a completely disproportionate amount of the "white" activists were Jews whose historical consciousness of their identity made white racism abhorrent to them. There is nothing more Jewish than to oppose racist oppression - especially when it's our own people who are responsible for it."

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