Letter to the YMCA
by EvaLyn F. Segal

This letter was sent to the YMCA on February 19, 2021

I am an American Jew of conscience.  I belong to Not in My Name and several other dissident Jewish groups that support the Palestinian cause.  I am in touch with Jewish peace activists in Israel.  I read your position paper on Palestine with great care and I think it is a brave and thoughtful analysis and an excellent proposal for action.

I will help in any way I can.  If I were younger (I'm 68 and physically limited) I'd volunteer to go plant olive trees.

You have surely read Edward Said's "America's Last Taboo," about the general hesitation to criticize Israel and Jewish policy toward Palestinians.  I agree absolutely.  The leadership in this struggle must come from disinterested Christians, but with the support and "permission" of Jewish dissidents like myself.

I do not think it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli injustice and brutality toward Palestinians.  I do not think it is anti-Semitic to deplore indifference toward Palestinian suffering on the part of world Jewry.  I do not think it is anti-Semitic to recognize that Zionism was racist from the outset—it discounted Palestinian humanity and it intended to take their land away from the Palestinians by any means necessary.  I do not think it is anti-Semitic to note that Christian persecution of Jews in the past does not justify Jewish persecution of Palestinians.

Please carry on your important work.

". . . the only way to change US policy is through a mass campaign on behalf of Palestinian human rights, outflanking the Zionist establishment and going straight to the American people.  Uninformed and yet open to appeals for justice as they are, Americans are capable of reacting as they did to the ANC campaign against apartheid. . . A strategy of this kind requires sustained and dedicated political work.  It has to be based on democratic grass-roots organization.  It can only spring from a movement, not a personal initiative by this or that leader . . . it demands genuine knowledge of US society . . . The reality is that there exists, inside America, a vast body of opinion which is often bewildered by the lurid rhetoric of Zionism . . . "

—From Edward Said "America's Last Taboo," New Left Review, (November/December 2000, p 52).  [The full article is posted on this site, with permission of the author, in the "Life Under Occupation" section.]