Jesse Lieberfeld speaks: When they told me to stand by Israel, ‘that’s the logic of the white south in the 60s’
We all wondered what happened to Jesse Lieberfeld, that great kid in Pittsburgh who won a Martin Luther King Jr. essay-writing contest with a stunning piece titled “Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong,” condemning American Jewish support for Israel’s human rights violations. Myself I wanted to know what he had to say, and what he looked like.
I immediately was drawn to the fact that in his letter from the Birmingham jail, the way in which [King] was dealing with a struggle that was sort of glossed over, and one perspective had been lost for the convenience of the people in power. .
What King is referring to back there is that the white moderates are sort of ignoring the situation of African Americans in that era.
Well what I saw when I was told that we need to defend our race, I first heard that phrase and what that immediately called to mind was the logic of the white south in the civil rights movement….
Obviously we as American Jews can’t be supporting this on a moral basis. It doesn’t matter whether they have the same religion as us or not.. They’re people, they deserve their human rights just as we do…
Lieberfeld’s dad disses the essay as an “unnuanced view of a 16-year-old… he’s trying it out and he’ll keep thinking about things,” but mom says it’s a “gift.” Go Mom!
The essay showed the difference in generational attitudes towards Israel… For my parents’ generation Israel is the refuge from the Holocaust…