Wednesday, August 6

What they aren't saying

... If you listened to some leaders, you'd think Gaza & the rest of Palestine (what's left) was occupying Israel!

As I write this, I am hoping the temporary truce between Hamas and Israel will become permanent, but I know that either way, our work is just beginning. The first delivery of our Open Letter to Jewish leaders will be Friday, so I hope you will sign and pass this on.Gratefully,Rabbi Alissa Wise

Help fight these lies with the truth - and an open letter to Jewish leaders

As a rabbi who was inspired by my many Jewish teachers to a life dedicated to social change, I am just heartbroken and outraged by the ways American Jewish leadership has failed to live up to the moral standards they set for themselves, and the rest of us.

To put it bluntly--their response to Israel's assault on the people of Gaza has been downright disgraceful.

That’s why I am asking you to join me and the 25,000 others who have signed our Open Letter to ask the leaders of three major US Jewish organization to take a stand for justice.

Click here to sign the petition:

Starting this Friday, we will be hand-delivering this open letter to Jewish leaders in cities across America.

Below we have just a sampling of some of the false claims some of these leaders are helping to spread throughout American Jewish communities—and we’ve provided some context to help you respond to them. Their spread illustrates exactly why we have written this Open Letter. 

Is it not too much to expect American Jewish leaders to say unequivocally, as thousands of Jews worldwide are doing, that the disproportionate violence, killing and destruction that the Israeli government is inflicting on the people of Gaza is immoral and intolerable?

Is it not too much to expect them to hold Israel accountable for ongoing occupation and blockade?

We must demand that these leaders take a courageous position affirming the equal humanity of all people.
Please join me in signing the Open Letter insisting they decry the killing of innocents, rather than justify it. That they oppose a policy of collective punishment, rather than funding it.
Join us in demanding that they challenge Israel's cynical hasbara (propaganda) below, rather than parroting it.

Rabbi Alissa Wise

Responses to five commonly heard pro-war talking points.

1) CLAIM: Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians.RESPONSE: Hamas has crude weapons technology that lacks any targeting capability. As such, Hamas rocket attacks ipso facto violate the principle of distinction because all of its attacks are indiscriminate. This is not contested. Israel, however, would not be any more tolerant of Hamas if it strictly targeted military objects, as we have witnessed of late. Israel considers Hamas and any form of its resistance, armed or otherwise, to be illegitimate. In contrast, … with the use of drones, F-16s and an arsenal of modern weapon technology, Israel has the ability to target single individuals and therefore to avoid civilian casualties. But rather than avoid them, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians as part of its military operations. 
Noura Erakat (July 22, 2014) Five Israeli Talking Points DebunkedThe Nation 
2) CLAIM: Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.RESPONSE:  Although in 2005 Israel removed approximately 8000 Jewish settlers who had been living in illegal colonies in Gaza under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s so-called “disengagement” plan, Israel continues to exercise "unconsented-to effective control," the legal definition for qualifying as an occupying power. Israel continues to control Gaza’s airspace, coastline, and all of its entry and exit points except for one controlled by Egypt, which has cooperated with Israel in maintaining the siege and blockade of Gaza. This status has been affirmed by the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the U.N., and the U.S. State Department, among others.  
Institute for Middle East Understanding (July 31, 2014) Fact check: Israeli claims about the assault on Gaza

3) CLAIM: Gaza proves there can be no Palestinian stateRESPONSE: To grasp the perversity of using Gaza as an explanation for why Israel can’t risk a Palestinian state, it helps to realize that Sharon withdrew Gaza’s settlers in large measure because he didn’t want a Palestinian state.

Peter Beinart (July 30, 2014) What American Jews Haven’t Been Told About GazaHa'aretz   

4) CLAIM: Hamas started this latest assault
 Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

Henry Siegman (July 22, 2014) Israel provoked this war. It's up to President Obama to stop it. Politico
5) CLAIM: Israel is acting under self defense. RESPONSE: All nations have a right of self-defense, including Israel. But that right may be exercised lawfully only in limited circumstances. Israel cannot validly claim self-defense in its recent onslaught against Gaza for two main reasons.
First…Israel remains an occupying power under international law, bound to protect the occupied civilian population. Israel can use force to defend itself, but no more than is necessary to quell disturbances. Hence this is not a war – rather, it is a top military power unleashing massive firepower against a penned and occupied Palestinian population. Second, self-defense cannot be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting more than 400, searching 2,200 homes and other sites, and killing at least nine Palestinians. 
George Bisharat (July 22, 1014) Israel Has Overreacted to the Threats It Provoked
 The New York Times
Rabbi Alissa Wise

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