The following letter was submitted to the Boston Globe by local activist Eleanor Roffman, in response to an op-ed by Alan Dershowitz.
Alan Dershowitz’s August 15, 2016 editorial (“Black Lives Matter must rescind anti-Israel declaration”) raises an important concern for me. I have often wondered over the years when someone criticizes Israel, why they are subjected to a litmus test of their past and current political activism. When I supported the Sandinistas, I was not asked if I supported other rebel groups. When I supported ending the Viet Nam war I was not questioned about my support for other struggles. The same was true when I supported the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s movement, the South African anti-Apartheid movement, etc. My participation in one movement did not require my participation in all other similar or dissimilar movements. This litmus test is only applied in relation to the state of Israel.
I would like to respond to Dershowitz’s question about why I am not actively supporting the other struggles he noted (in Syria, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Turkey, etc) in lieu of addressing the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian Territories by Israel. Firstly, it is important for me as an American Jew, in my advocacy for Palestinian rights, to challenge the claim that Israel speaks for the Jewish people. Secondly, Israel would not be able to engage in their brutal occupation of Palestine without American tax dollars, approximately 9 billion dollars of aid every year. These are our tax dollars and I do not support investing in occupation and oppression. So, although I am sympathetic to the other struggles Dershowitz identifies, I have chosen to be an ally of those who seek justice in Israel/Palestine. I am no more anti-Semitic than those of the BLM movement who address this liberation struggle. As Dr. King noted, “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”