Monthly Archives: July 2014

J Street Statement On Gaza Conflict

J Street Statement On Gaza Conflict

For more than three weeks now, fierce violence has raged between Israel and Hamas, taking an enormous toll in human life and suffering. J Street is deeply shocked and saddened by the losses suffered in this round of violence, from dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians to the more than a thousand Gaza residents dead, and thousands more wounded.
Our hearts go out to the families of all those who have died or been injured, in particular the children whose lives have been cut short by this deadly conflict. The devastation and homelessness in Gaza must be addressed immediately or the suffering there will only continue to lay the seeds for further and deeper violence.
J Street’s position on the violence and our recommendations for actions to end it are as follows:
• It is time for the fighting to end through a sustainable cease-fire agreement. J Street strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself proportionately against the threat of relentless rockets and to destroy tunnels leading into Israel. We agree with Shimon Peres and other Israeli officials that the military objectives have largely been exhausted and it’s now time for Israel to look for a way out of Gaza. Unltimately, there is no military victory over an ideology and no military solution to a fundamentally political conflict. We adamantly oppose calls for Israel to “reoccupy Gaza”.
• We support efforts by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as well as the engagement of other countries such as Egypt to bring about an immediate cease-fire. Any such cease-fire must account for Israel’s security concerns, specifically from rockets and tunnels, as well as Palestinian humanitarian needs, and should be structured to lead to negotiations to establish arrangements related to security, political issues and humanitarian assistance. We support the inclusion of the Palestinian Authority in the cease-fire and in the negotiations around security, political arrangements and humanitarian assistance.
• We are deeply offended by attacks on and mischaracterizations of the Secretary’s efforts to resolve this crisis and his relationship to the state of Israel. We believe his pursuit of not only a cease-fire but a two-state solution represents the highest possible form of friendship to Israel and all the people of the region, and we salute and support the Secretary for his efforts.
• Every effort should be made to establish arrangements that minimize the chances that another round of violence erupts again in two years. A real solution for Gaza must (a) address Israel’s legitimate security concerns from both rockets and tunnels, (b) establish a structure that brings the West Bank and Gaza together politically and allows Palestinian differences to be settled politically, and (c) address the serious humanitarian issues that face the civilian population in Gaza including greater freedom of movement for people and goods for non-military purposes. J Street supports those suggesting that cease-fire negotiations be used to advance prospects for a Palestinian unity government committed to early elections and demilitarization in Gaza. Allowing the previously-signed reconciliation agreement between Palestinian factions to move forward as part of the cease-fire deal might pave the way for a Palestinian government with a broad mandate and committed to a long-term cease-fire.
• The ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the violence it spawns cannot be addressed without looking at the deeper issues at stake in the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict didn’t start when the latest rockets began flying three weeks ago or with the terrible kidnapping and murder of three teenagers or Israel’s response to that incident. The roots of this conflict remain the tragic fight between two peoples over one land and the unresolved status of territory won by Israel in the 1967 war that has been occupied since and on which the Palestinian people will one day build their state. Failure to address and resolve these underlying issues through a two-state solution condemns both peoples to a never-ending spiral of violence that will only deepen as technology improves and hatred festers.
• We remain absolutely committed to achieving a comprehensive diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states for two peoples. A never-ending and deepening cycle of violence will do nothing to advance that cause. Only a two-state solution that resolves the underlying conflict will ensure Israel’s safety, security and legitimacy as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people and provide the Palestinian people with freedom, dignity and self-determination. read more

No Civility in My Government’s Treatment of the United States–by David Langerman

No Civility in My Government’s Treatment of the United States
David Langerman
Kiryat Motzkin Israel
July 30, 2014

I am having a hard time thinking clearly these days.

But one thing I do know that we need to treat the Obama administration with respect and not behave as the neighborhood bully.

Or, as the German Jews, (known as Yekkes) used to tell us for years in their mixture of German-Hebrew, there is Keinen Tarbut תרבות – no civility in our public behavior. They prided themselves that even in tough and challenging times they maintained civility, including saying, “please” and “thank you.” read more

Israel’s History: Moving in the Wrong Direction—by Ted Brown and Corinne Sutter-Brown

Israel’s History: Moving in the Wrong Direction
Ted Brown and Corinne Sutter-Brown
Rochester, New York
29 July 2014

Depressed by recent events, including last night’s one-sided Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester’s orchestrated defense of Israel’s behavior in its latest Gazan war, we are motivated to post this brilliant essay by Tony Judt originally published in Haaretz in 2006. Judt was a world-class, Cambridge-educated historian and a brilliant public intellectual who pursued his career in England and the United States. As a young man he was an idealistic socialist-Zionist who worked during summers on Israeli kibbutzim. But as he explains here, with considerable pain and anguish he gradually came to realize that his youthful idealism no longer matched the realities of Israeli politics and policy, which have veered closer and closer to those of South Africa under apartheid. And while the world has caught on, Israel has refused to grow up and is frozen in a defensive and self-righteous adolescence that may well prove disastrous. If it does not mature, Israel may follow a path threatening its own survival and will help spawn a resurgence of global anti-Semitism. We feel you must read this essay if you want to understand what is really going on in the Middle East and beyond. read more

Jews vs. Jews: The Unkindest Cut—by Cathy Harris

Jews vs. Jews: The Unkindest Cut
Cathy Harris
July 25th 2014

This article is a mishmash: A personal tale, a diatribe on the culture of incivility and a political reflection. I worry constantly – if Jews can’t respect each other, how can we sit down and break bread with Palestinians? How can we, Jews in the USA and in Israel, open our minds to new and visionary possibilities? How can we work to end war? If we can’t respect each other, if we spew meaningless phrases like “self-hating Jew” and “racist bigot”, we can’t. We just can’t. read more

A Message For My Children—by Barbara D. Holender ©

A Message For My Children
Barbara D. Holender

I will be busy when I die
leaving messages in several languages
along your possible paths,
clues you may not understand but
will recognize as mine, and therefore
meant to encourage.

I will never be done with this world–
I will leave my tracks, not to follow
but to know, when you feel most at risk,
no life is entirely without precedent.

You will find me when you least expect
in your words and gestures and, with the years,
in your morning face in the mirror. read more

For Open Borders—by Peter Eisenstadt

For Open Borders
Peter Eisenstadt

One of the biggest domestic stories of the past few weeks has been the presence of some 60,000 Central American refugees and immigrants on the US border with Mexico. And no doubt the biggest stories in the world these past few weeks has been the latest Israel-Gaza War, and the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine. What all of these stories have in common is that they are all, in one way or another, about borders, and the right of people to cross them. read more

On the Gaza Border –by Uri Schechter

On the Gaza Border
Uri Schechter
A NAHAL Brigade Commander (Reserve)

To all my friends and to all those who don’t know me: Please share this posting in every way possible.

Since I am a commander right here on the Gaza border people are asking me what they could do for those who are fighting here right now.

All in all the IDF supports us in the most amazing way. So the best support that you all can offer is to give the bereaved families a big hug filled with love. Visit them. Visit the wounded in hospitals in your area, or in hospitals that are far away. read more

The Right to Self-Defense—by Peter Eisenstadt

The Right to Self-Defense

Peter Eisenstadt

Israel has a right to defend itself. I have no problem with this statement. Every country, ever person, has the right to defend itself, herself, himself. Hamas, I would argue, was goaded into this war by Israel, but it was foolish enough to take the bait. But a provocation is not a justification. Hamas still had to take the step of starting to fire rockets, knowing what the probable impact would be on Israel and on Gaza. And once Hamas started to use its tunnels for raids into Israel, once again, they knew what the response would be. read more

On Gaza, Twitter, and Despair—by Kathleen Kern

On Gaza, Twitter, and Despair

Kathleen Kern

I manage the Twitter account for my human rights organization, and lately, I find I have to take a deep breath every time I check it.  Since we have a project in Palestine, our Twitter feed follows other accounts concerned with peace and human rights in Palestine/Israel and now, it’s all about the bombing in Gaza.  We also have projects in Iraqi Kurdistan—the team there is dealing with land confiscation by oil corporations and Syrian refugees.  (Remember them?) In Colombia, corrupt authorities have used riot police to evict a community we accompany.  The Supreme Court of Canada has just said that Ontario could open the land of our Anishinaabe partners to industrial logging.  But right now, Gaza trumps all on Twitter. read more

Thoughts on Gaza—by Peter Eisenstadt

Thoughts on Gaza
Peter Eisenstadt

The best-known story in Tanach about Gaza is of course the story of Samson. One can read the story of Samson, alternatively, either as an allegory of the futility of strength and power, or of the futility of weakness and powerlessness. (I think of that line from the Peter, Paul, and Mary song from the 1960s, “if I had my way in this wicked world, I would tear this building down.”) And not much has changed.

Of all the insoluble problems of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Gaza is perhaps the most intractable. The problem with the West Bank is that everyone wants to live there. The problem with Gaza is that no one wants to live there, least of all most of its residents, most of whom are descended from Palestinian refugees from 1948, and who have been trapped in Gaza for many years. I don’t know how, precisely, the occupation of the West Bank will be resolved, but it will no doubt be some sort of partition and shared sovereignty. I have no idea how the problem of Gaza will be resolved. read more