I am a working Mediator who has been pursuing peace and justice issues as long as I can remember. My husband, Michael McNamara, emigrated to Canada from the US during the Vietnam War, as a war resister. When we began studying Israel-Palestine after 9/11, we were introduced to the work of Edward Said, and we followed the threads from there. We intentionally sought out Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli voices, as we felt those would carry more weight. As we learned more about the deep and unquestioned US support of Israel, we looked for American Jewish voices from whom we could learn and gather perspective. Most fortunately for us, we found Jewish Voice for Peace online and I was grateful to be able to join, even though we are not Jewish. That was many years ago, when JVP was a fledgling organization with one chapter. We have followed its development and growth with awe and pride, and we feel a part of its family. We both continue to be contributing members.
From JVP, we learned about the invaluable Mondoweiss which we read daily, Rabbi Brant Rosen and his Shalom Rav, Interfaith Peace-Builders and many more individuals and groups making a difference. As we grew in our understanding of the issues, I began writing a series of monthly articles – “Israel-Palestine: Hard Conversations” – for the newsletter on our small Gulf island, off the west coast of British Columbia. These articles naturally brought much comment and some heated criticism – talking about the taboo topic! I feel immensely grateful to be able to respond to the inevitable accusations of anti-Semitism with information about our close connection with JVP. It is wonderful to be able to refer JVP to our Jewish friends who feel torn and conflicted about deviating from unquestioning loyalty to Israel and anxious about losing their “community”. We are able to reassure them that they will find a deeply caring community in JVP, a community that comports with the best of Jewish values, grounded as it is in respect for the dignity of all humanity.
Last June, I travelled to Israel-Palestine with IFPB in order to see for myself, learn and bear witness to the occupation and its effects. This was a life-altering journey for me, and I continue to offer a slide show and talk of my experiences there to various groups in various communities. I am also connected now with our local activist group, Mid-Islanders for Justice & Peace in the Middle East, who organize speakers, films, vigils, sale of Palestinian Olive Oil and so on. My husband and I are focusing more intently now on Canada’s shameful complicity with the occupation and the Zionist enterprise. He has been in patient dialogue for a year with a “liberal Zionist” friend who last week made his first contribution to JVP. All these little pieces follow from our association with JVP.
We feel we are part of a diverse, strong and growing community of those in solidarity. Whatever our backgrounds, we are united in opposition to a cruel occupation and committed to working for a just peace in Israel-Palestine. We thank you JVP, and we greatly value our role as allies!
onward, Sally Campbell