Outrage in Gaza: No More Apologies

gaza
(picture by Hatem Omar/Maan Images)

The news today out of Israel and Gaza makes me just sick to my stomach.

I know, I can already hear the responses: every nation has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens. If the Qassams stopped, Israel wouldn’t be forced to take military action. Hamas also bears responsibility for this tragic situation…

I could answer each and every one of these claims in turn, but I’m ready to stop this perverse game of rhetorical ping-pong. I don’t buy the rationalizations any more. I’m so tired of the apologetics. How on earth will squeezing the life out of Gaza, not to mention bombing the living hell out of it, ensure the safety of Israeli citizens?

We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass. It’s a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it  because I’ve been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it.

So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.

There, I’ve said it. Now what do I do?


132 Comments on “Outrage in Gaza: No More Apologies”

  1. ls says:

    Brant -

    Amos Oz, as you know: an Israeli very much on the left, and someone utterly committed to – and working for – making peace, wrote this about the current situation (distributed by the Israeli consulate):

    The systematic bombing of the citizens in Israel’s towns and cities is a war crime and a crime against humanity. The State of Israel must defend its citizens. It is obvious to everyone that the Israeli government does not wish to enter Gaza; the government would rather continue the ceasefire that Hamas
    violated and finally revoked. But the suffering of the citizens surrounding Gaza cannot go on.

    The reluctance to enter Gaza stems not from indecisiveness but from well knowing that Hamas is actually eager to cause Israel to embark on a military operation: If dozens or even hundreds of Palestinian civilians, women and children are killed in an Israeli action, radicalism would gain strength in Gaza, Abu Mazen’s rule in the West Bank might collapse, and Hamas extremists could replace him.

    The Arab world will rally together around the atrocious sights that Al-Jazeera will air from Gaza, and the world court of public opinion will rush to accuse Israel of war crimes. This is the same court of public opinion that remains unmoved by the systematic bombing of population centers in Israel.

    Massive pressure will be exerted on Israel to restrain itself. No such pressure will be placed on Hamas because there is no one to pressure them, and there is almost nothing left with which to pressure them. Israel is a country; Hamas is a gang.

    What remains for us to do? The best thing for Israel is to achieve a total ceasefire in exchange for alleviating the blockade of Gaza. If Hamas insists on refusing the ceasefire and continues bombing Israeli citizens, we must take care lest the military action play into Hamas’ hands. Hamas’ calculation is simple, cynical and evil: If innocent Israelis are killed – good. If innocent Palestinians are killed – even better. Israel must act wisely against this stance, and not out of the heat of the moment.

  2. Lesley Williams says:

    Thanks for your post. It always bugs me that liberal Jews wring their hands and wail about how angst ridden they are over Israel’s actions, about the “sad necessity” of these murderous actions, yada, yada, yada, and yet they never agree to take any concrete actions or make the sacrifices to stop it. No answers, but I’m glad you’re willing to stand up and say “Enough”!

  3. lostandconfused says:

    Hey, can someone give me a hand with the search function on the blog. I’m trying to find your outraged piece about rockets shot from Gaza killing civilians, and I am not having a whole ton of luck. I can’t help but get the feeling you learned a little too much in Iran.

  4. jb says:

    Not by might and not by power, but by my spirit said the Lord of Hosts.

    Zechariah 4:6

    The haftarah for the shabbat of Chanukah.

    This is something to think about in the wake of these useless and dangerous attacks.

  5. Ross says:

    I agree that the apologetics are both tiring and fascinating. At first I thought Amos Oz’s statement was a condemnation of the bombing since I thought it was written before the bombing and I took his “reluctance to enter Gaza” to mean a reluctance to engage in any military action. But was it written after the bombing started and Oz is making a distinction between bombings and other forms of military action?
    If so then this is a classic statement of human arrogance that Judaism condemns (in the 12th benediction, in the Aleinu, in Zechariah 4:6, in the story of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, etc,etc,) How could it be possible for human wisdom to distinguish between military actions that will lead to good or bad results? The category “God” is a recognition that human wisdom has limits, and therefore we are called (chosen) to be advocates of peace even when human wisdom seems to demand the use of violence.

  6. Lisa Pildes says:

    Hi Brant,

    I don’t know who lostandconfused is but I’m in agreement. I also must have missed the occasions of your hand wringing over rocket attacks on Israeli citizens, which are war crimes.

    Frankly, I’m having a hard time working up sympathy for Gaza. Someday, maybe the people who live there will throw out the thugs (the ones who refused to let their injured be evacuated across the boarder to Egyptian hospitals) instead of electing them. In the meantime, Israel has every right according to international law, to respond to acts of war.

    To jb: Plaut comments that the angel’s words in Zachariah were inserted into the Hanukkah haftorah as a way to placate the ruling Romans by shifting the emphasis toward the spiritual and away from commemorating a time when Israel had military and political power. I, for one, am not sorry to live in a time when Israel is again a sovereign nation with the power to defend it’s citizens.

  7. Jil Levin Deheeger says:

    i so appreciated your post, Brant, because the bottom line is that ultimately I agree with you. But I also agree with i.s. (a post you received) – there is such great manipulation being played on Israel that perhaps the thing to do is try to make the Palestinians, and esp. the Arab world in general, see how terrorism hurts everyone in the region. This ping-pong no-end-in-sight horror, I think, can only stop when peace becomes the focal point for all. It could begin, I think, with the immediate end to the Israeli blockades which are indeed making life truly savage for the Palestinians. But what next, if the terrorism doesn’t stop? Obama and others really have their hands full.

  8. martin okun says:

    I agree with you that this is a mistake. Rather than commenting on whether this is justified, or justifiable (I happen to think the response is disproportionate, but I don’t want to be drawn into fruitless legalistic or moralistic arguments that will never lead to resolution)–instead, what is the point of this? Does anybody seriously think that Hamas is going to stop the rockets because of this offensive? Is Israel going to reoccupy Gaza? (That worked out well, didn’t it). What is the exit strategy?

    I don’t pretend to have the answers, but if there is simply repeating and continuing the flawed strategies that led to this, the results will be more of the same.

  9. Kat in Philly says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,

    You are going to catch hell for telling it like it is, but thank you for taking a stand. As to what to do now? You answered it and are doing it: stop engaging in the perverse rhetorical ping-pong; stop engaging in the hypocrisy and double standards. You are to be commended and not condemned. Please remember in the coming days that you have a lot of support in your refusal to be baited by comments here and in the real world.

    PS. Amos Oz is morally bankrupt on this issue. The fact that Israeli Consulates are distributing this drivel proves it. He has always been the soothing, liberal poster boy of support for the occupation and now this catastrophe. He has provided nothing but contortionist platitudes to salve to our angst over the occupation, to make us feel complacent and self-righteous in whatever hell we visit upon the Palestinians. I am long tired of this man being upheld as some sort of moral exemplar to follow and emulate.

  10. moonkoon says:

    Now what do I do?

    Like they used to say in the K-Tel ads, “Do not send any money.”
    Condemn the land grab.
    http://www.irmep.org/ila/moneylaunder/

    Support the ’Shministim’.

    Read this,
    http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/

    Keep speaking your mind.
    Pray for peace.

    Anyway, thanks for speaking up, it is heartening to see courage instead if self pity.

    Ross, above, has some sound advice, worth repeating.

    …we are called (chosen) to be advocates of peace even when human wisdom seems to demand the use of violence.

  11. habib ahmadzadeh says:

    Sallam Rabbie Brant
    thank

  12. Sydney Hart says:

    I’m certainly no expert on the history of Israel or the two different narratives of who owns/controls the land. Nor am I any kind of expert on Torah or Jewish learning. Still, it seems to me that there is a simple idea here. If you kill someone’s child, you have made an enemy for a generation. There MUST be some solution that does not require the killing of someone’s child. Do we want to live with “an eye for an eye” justice (Hamas does bad things so we must stop them by doing bad things) or do we want a justice that is tempered with compassion?

    I just finished reading “Three Cups of Tea” and feel fairly certain that the authors are correct in their idea that if we offer education and improvements in life options, then we can move people away from terrorism and toward co-existance and, dare I wish it, even a celebration of our differences.

    Increasing settlements, bombings, homogenizing our understanding of Islam (rather than recognizing this religion as complex and heterogenous) is the path already taken and it hasn’t led us to peace. We MUST try something else. And I believe that the “something else” starts with recognizing Palestinians as fellow humans and asking them what they need. Consensus does not mean we get what we want, but that we all get what we need. How do we start this process?

    Sydney

    p.s. It’s blog entries like this one that make me proud to be a member of JRC.

  13. What to do? Keep telling the truth and keep praying. Also: call your congressional representatives, then follow up with a letter. Better yet – go visit them at their offices with a group of your allies.

    God doesn’t want us children of Abraham butchering each other like this. Peace is possible through diplomacy, negotiation, and adhering to the rule of law. It’s not actually going to be that hard to achieve.

    Reach out to peacemakers and help create a vision of the world we want, the solutions we want. Not just “no to violence” but yes to what? To coexistence, to pluralism, to tolerance – to ideals we live out here in the United States.

    Those who claim this is soft-hearted pablum are actually themselves weak and riddled with fear. Violent aggression is not making anybody safer, as you realized. It takes real strength to stop the cycle of violence. I pray – I really pray – that God strengthens all of us that we may beat the swords into ploughshares.

  14. What to do now, Rabbi? Join us. You already have. Join the other Jews who have had enough. Who know that Israel is going over a cliff.

    It won’t be easy for you. But what else is there to do?

    Kol Hakavod oo’baruch haba.

    Mark

    http://www.jewishconscience.org

  15. Jinjirrie says:

    Hamas wanted a continuance of the cease fire on terms which Israel found unacceptable – the ceasing of its collective punishment of the Gazan people by the lifting of its hideous blockade of Gaza.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JustPeaceUK/message/24779

    Beats me why Israel doesn’t admit the inevitable – a one state solution where everyone has equal rights will come about sooner or later, from demographic pressures alone.

  16. Dear Brant,

    As I told you last night in person, this is a brave thing to post. You’re up against 60 years of conditioning here–conditioning that has shaped not only public discourse about Israel, but private reflection; not only our sermons, but our Torah commentaries and moral lives.

    I’m particularly struck by Lisa’s citation of Plaut as a way to set aside the moral critique offered in Zachariah. As far as I can tell, God cares a whole lot less about Jewish sovereignty than we do, and rabbinic Judaism went along with that set of values, in which the Romans were simply doing God’s work, just as the Assyrians and Babylonians had done before them. (“For our sins we were exiled,” etc.)

    We tossed out belief-system out, for better and for worse. What replaces it? The fourteenth article of faith: “Somebody’s going to suffer and die; let it be them, not us.”

    Lisa has little sympathy for the Gazans; the folks who rioted in Hebron have little sympathy for their non-Jewish neighbors; the Israeli government had little sympathy for the Lebanese civilians they bombed to get at Hezbollah. And, of course, vice versa.

    Thanks for being one of the sympathizers. I’m proud to have you as my rabbi.

  17. Robyn says:

    Brant,

    I’m proud of your blog and your stance on this issue; it’s courageous as you have proven to be on so many occasions. I’m also proud of and encouraged by the majority of responders who seem to be yearning for hope and peace. With the changing of the administration, I’m praying for a real groundswell of support to find a path toward peace in the Middle East.

  18. Jesse Bacon says:

    Dear Brant,
    I was proud to read your statement as a former JRC member (I moved to Philadelphia.)
    I am wrestling with and haunted by your final question of what you should do. I know what I do, and I know I have been wishing that one of the many rabbis in my life would make a post/sermon like that. I want to believe that such an act of moral courage will have long ripple effects, and be evidence of a larger upwelling of principled stands. However, I am questioning the inevitability of some of my own assumptions and hear your hunger for effective action to take. I would be happy to discuss the question of what you will do next with you , though!

  19. Elliot Zashin says:

    Brant: Many things one could say about what’s been happening, but you focused in on what we as Jews (and supporters of Israel) need to get our minds around – finally. I like to think that Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf (‘zl’) somewhere in ha’olam ha’ba is smiling: he will have at least one successor.

    As for what to do: we should be doing the action alerts of course e.g., J Street and Brit Tzedek, that call for an immediate cease-fire, but as your giving list indicates, humanitarian aid (I’ve just made contributions to organizations I never gave to before) needs to be a priority.

  20. Mardge Cohen says:

    Thank you for your clarity and passion about the occupation and the horror that continues in Gaza. We must raise our voices here and join with others to demonstrate against Israel’s air attack. It diminishes all of us.

  21. CShapiro says:

    Lisa Pildes and lostandconfused –

    I don’t get it. When my older and stronger kid is beating on my younger kid, I make him stop. I make him stop even if the younger kid did something purely and deliberately provocative, like take a precious possession without permission, or even something violent, like kick him. I don’t tell my older child that it’s ok to beat on his brother if the brother provoked him and in order to deter or (worse!) disable his brother. I make them find another way to work it out.

    I realize that Israel is not a child, nor is Hamas. But the analogy it seems to me is stronger than it might appear. Were I to take the option of allowing my older child to physically deter his brother from future provocation, what do you think would happen? They would both become horrific human beings. This, writ large, is what we see happening before our very eyes. It breaks my heart.

  22. Abigail Okrent says:

    Dear Brant:

    I’m so happy that the synagogue I grew up in now has a rabbi willing to openly support the Jewish values I thought I’d learned.
    What can you do? A whole lot, or, rather, if you can’t do anything then no one can do anything. You can start by calling your senators and representatives, the State Department, the Israeli embassies and consulates. You can submit your beautifully-written pieces to mainstream media. You can organize a meeting so that many people can come together and make these sorts of phone calls and draft letters and sign petitioners (feed them and have the addresses and phone numbers listed and talking points ready). It feels hopeless, but we must try.
    Peace,
    Abby

  23. Amal says:

    I have been feeling an immense sadness and uselesness these last days.. Human beings are killing each other and the world watches. Born Muslim and raised as a moderate humanist, I’m a mother of two and have raised them to respect every living being. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Boeddhists, Atheists, anyone… I was almost desperate until I read your words rabbi Brant. I am not alone in this world. I have no idea what the implications of your words will mean ( having read some of the comments and the words of encouragement) I have never met you personally, but I will say this… Rabbi Brant you are a true and courageous human being and may God or Yahweh or Allah bless you for your stand and for giving me hope again.

  24. Thank you for these words of wisdom and truth.

  25. Do check out http://www.gaza-sderot.blogspot.com , which has been going just about a year now – written by two friends, one (Hopeman) in Sderot and the other (Peaceman) in Gaza. I first read about them in Haaretz.
    On my last comment to their blog, where many write comments supporting their initiative (They created a petition for a ceasefire in the spring), there are frustratingly few concrete suggestions of how to advance. I wrote one on the last blog, but I don’t know anyone who has taken this step except the Lutheran minister of the church in our neighborhood. She is German, I am American having lived in Geneva, Switzerland (French-speaking husband) most of my life. It is possible to call the Obama team and ask them to make ending this conflict, starting with the horror in Gaza, a priority : that’s the Obama/Biden Transition Office, office hours 9-9 weekdays, phone number (202540-3000 and press 2. Carol Scheller

  26. AWAD SIFRI says:

    From the bottom of my heart, as a Palestinian, I say a BIG THANK YOU to you, personally for your courageous stand, and to every Jew who has been able to detach herself/himself from tribe and see reality, injustice, catastrophe, bias, deafening silence, and double standards as they are silenced by our media, churches, authorities.
    The villains are not only certain regimes in Israel, or the Zionist organizations, but also the Christian Taliban/Christian Zionists (60 – 89 million strong in the US), and the puppet Arab regimes who have also succumbed to the Bush Administration and its legacy of heinous war crimes.
    As Palestinians, we shall never forget the voices of Jews who spoke the truth before power and who reacted to their conscience and who suffered because of their stand amongst their own tribe.

    I say a BIG THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of you. You are truly brothers and sisters of our common Semitic race, as well as of our human race.

    Let us fight together on one side for the establishment of a Palestinian State in the pre-June 1967 borders, living in peace and harmony with Israel “Proper”.

    Awad

  27. sabra says:

    Toda Rabbi. We all have loyalties…to our families, our country, our people. But the greatest loyalty is to G*d.

    Your statement reveals that it is the latter loyalty that you have chosen above all others.

  28. Mouna says:

    Thank you Rabbi,

    The comments above make it clear that the battles that have raged in the Middle East for the last 60 or so years were not, and are not battles between Jews and Moslems, but a struggle against injustice. We are all equal in the eyes of God, and should be equal and deserving of justice every where.

    Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for standing up for the truth.

    Mouna

  29. joan michie says:

    Thank God for this Rabbi and all the people (Jews, Christians, Muslims) who have been working to end this longest occupation of a people in history for over 40 years. I had my life threatened for speaking about this when I returned from Israel and Gaza and the West Bank in 1989. I have been called anti Semitic for speaking up on this in the U.S.
    This is a truly heartening and truthful act of courage. I wish for the Rabbi many many blessings. I happen to be a Christian who has worked in interfaith dialogue for years and this is something that is a blessing to us all….thank you. The truth is always what we all seek like they did in South Africa, in Germany and in Ireland. War is an outdated solution to any real problem…Rabbi you have honored your ancestors many times over…

  30. Jim says:

    Thank God for a voice of sanity. If current events are a reflection of the will of God, from any viewpoint or religion, then I am sadly mistaken on the nature of God. Does anyone remember the Golden Rule ?

  31. An Orthodox Christian from Greece says:

    Dear Rabbi Rosen,

    It was an honor for me to read your inspired words. Thank you!

    An Orthodox Christian from Greece

  32. Ed Agro says:

    Thanks for your brave and needed statement. What to do now? Hold fast to your principled opinions, though you are sure to receive a lot of grief for them. In the end we do what we can, even if it seems too little and unheard amidst the howls of the fearful and cruel.

  33. michael smith says:

    Dear Rabbi Rosen,
    I am Susan Stone’s cousin from New York City and was at Adam’s bar mitzfah, over which you presided. What you have done in breaking the silence was an affirmation of the moral and spiritual tradition of Judaism. This legacy was betrayed and is currently threatened with extinction by the policies of the state of Israel. What you did took courage. It is my hope that Jews in America will find their way back to the moral and political heritage that we once had, the message of universal human emancipation. If they do so it will be because of the leadership of people like you. You have my respect and,
    Solidarity,
    Michael Smith
    Board Member, Center for Constitutional Rights
    Co-host of the radio show Law and Disorder
    (lawanddisorder.org)

  34. Dr. Ayesha Hussein says:

    It heartens me that individuals, such as yourself, have a platform for endorsing peace. In order to achieve heaven on earth, we must insist on placing all of humanity at the forefront of our decisions, regardless of their political/religious affiliations. We must not allow violence to enter into the equation of solutions and we must respect basic human rights for all. Thank you for speaking the TRUTH.

  35. ATHENA says:

    “How on earth will squeezing the life out of Gaza, not to mention bombing the living hell out of it, ensure the safety of Israeli citizens?”

    THANK YOU BRANT ROSEN! THE FACT THAT YOU STATED YOUR IDEAS FROM THE FIRST DAY OF THE ATTACK DESERVES EVEN MORE RESPECT.

    RABBIS LIKE YOU, JEWS LIKE YOU, BRING HOPE TO ALL OF US IN THE REST OF THE WORLD WHO HORRIFIED SEE THE IRRATIONAL VIOLENCE PERPETUATING ITSELF IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

    PEACE FROM ATHENS GREECE

  36. Hugh R Bruce says:

    Dear Rabbi Rosen, this Wednesday will mark the 5th year that I have had the privilige of standing with a group called the Raging Grandmothers against the war. Each Wednesday they gather at Rockefeller Center in NYC to witness for peace and justice. I am an active Episcopal layman, and I have noticed how many of these wonderful women are of the Jewish faith. As a member of Veterans for Peace I am inspired by their courage and commitment. Know of my prayers for You and yours in the cause of human rights and brotherhood.
    Shalom, Pax vobiscum, yours in the cause….Hugh Bruce
    (Chief Warrant Officer, US Army, Viet Nam 1966-68)

  37. Andrew says:

    Rabbi Brant,

    Thank you for speaking out. This is the kind of courage that has become all too rare in mainstream media, and is the kind of courage that the world so desperately needs at this time.

  38. Pia Hyrland says:

    There, I’ve said it. Now what do I do?

    I guess you have to say it and shout it and write it again and again and again!
    Unless you want to take action and do even something more together with all the people who’s has got the same opinion and conclusions as yourself.
    In fact there are many jews and Israelian spread in different places and organisations all over the world who could start work together..
    You could publish all the groups and share information with the public since the medias keep silent about this issue..

    Peace from a Danish Peacewatch :) (unitarian)

  39. Ramiro says:

    Shalom שלום, Salam ﻢﻼﺳ.

    Thank you very much, Truth and communication can change things everywere.

  40. Sami says:

    Thank you so much for doing this, Rabbi. I am a Palestinian immigrant in the US who is pro peace and against aggressions whether it is directed against the Israeli people or the Palestinians.

    I just wanted to say you are a role model for me, and I feel very grateful for you for posting such a courageous article.

    Thanks again,
    Sami

  41. Arno Vosk, MD says:

    Rabbi Brant,

    Jewish morality permits self-defense, but it does not permit harming hundreds of innocent people with the dishonest excuse of “self-protection.” Hamas in Gaza may be doing harmful things, but they are not a threat to the existence of Israel. The Jewish way to deal with a difficult problem is to talk, and talk as much as is necessary to solve it. Thank you for taking a courageous and correct position on this issue. Hopefully, more Jewish leaders will do the same.

  42. Sara says:

    Thank you for this. I live in the Middle East. I hesitantly try and say to people, I hear the voices of Americans and American Jews changing; I hear a shift; I hear voices of moderation and support for what is right; not for what is wrong.
    Unfortunately, even in these times of depressed economy money talks. The conservative hawkish AIPAC stills says they speak for American Jews.

    What is there to do? Speak out loudly, make your voices heard in Congress, in the Senate, in the new White House, in the State Department and the US Mission to the United Nations.

  43. Shulamit says:

    Todah Rabbah, Rabbi Brant.
    It is refreshing to hear a sane voice from within the rabbinate instead of the “Israel is always right.” As a Jew, as a teacher of the Holocaust, as a mother of 3 fine Jewish sons, and as a human being, I am disgusted with the actions of Israel toward our Palestinian brothers and sisters. We should be a “light unto the world” not a purveyor of darkness and cruelty. Until we learn to share the space, like toddlers learning to share their toys, peace will not come to Eretz Yisroel. Please continue to speak out and to lead those of us who believe as you do toward learning and speaking the truth.
    Shulamit

    Greensboro, North Carolina

  44. K. Schreiber says:

    I participated at a rally for Gaza in Toronto. The most poignant moment for me came when my husband and I were leaving to go to our car… A young beautiful woman carrying an Israeli flag came towards us. A few steps behind us were two Palestinian youths carrying their flag. I nudged my husband to walk slower in case of trouble between the two opposing parties, but to my absolute amazement and delight, they stopped, asked each other about their experiences at the rally, wished each other a nice evening and went on their way.

    Young people are not just Citizens of Canada or Israel or Palestine anymore, they are citizens of the World, no matter what politicians decide in their arrogance.

    Shalom and Salaam Aleikum

  45. Thank you Rabbi Brant for working in making peace for the world

  46. Mark says:

    Peace & Love for your struggle and your courage, brother Brant.

  47. Pia Hyrland says:

    PS: Every day I read a blog by a very brave 23-year-old Humanitarian and Peaceactivist in Gaza here:

    http://gazatoday.blogspot.com/

    Peace!

  48. jimmy1920 says:

    Thank you.

    I just wish Congress would pay attention to your message.

  49. neal hurwitz says:

    Support Israel.
    Thanks for your views.

    Best, Neal
    National UJA 1983-90

  50. Sam Bortnick says:

    Shalom -

    As a fellow Jew, I want to thank you for your words of wisdom. I’ve had enough rationalizations too. No more double standards, no more exuses for collective punishment.

    Thank you again, Rabbi Brant.

  51. Gil Roy says:

    As a historian and professor at McGill I will not give up my 1000% support to what Israel is doing in Gaza and what it has done in the past in Qana Beirut or West Bank.
    Or what she will do and must do in future!
    Thanks to Geroge Bush and the NeoCons Israel has achieved most of its military objectives in Iraq,in West bank(it is now a Liberted Trritory as Menachem Begin our modern day Messiah used to describe the West Bank
    The Israeli establishment does not/should not give a hoot to Rabbi or Media who fare to criticise MY ISREAL RIGHT ALWAYS FOR EVER! As long as US Congress is in our pockets(ie AIPAC) who cares about those street demos!

  52. Salaam, Shalom, Peace,

    Thank you for speaking your conscience and joining the ranks of the peacemakers from among the children of Abraham.

    God bless you.

  53. Colin Purkey says:

    Hello

    I am proud that a Rabbi is taking an ethical stance. Here in London I am disappointed that liberal Rabbis at best seem to adopt an apologetic stance.

    At best what the Israeli State is doing is responding naively and predictably to a provocation. At worst it has an agenda of making the “most gains” before it is forced to negotiate with the PA as well as Hamas to reach a satisfactory and abiding settlement regarding a meaningful Palestine.

    In Israel itself the conscientious objectectors are making an impact and should be supported in their courageous stand, but so must people like Rabbi Brant be commended for his courageous stand. The more Rabbis and jewish leadership are willing to take the blinds from their eyes and speak out against this attack on Human Rights the more we can expect the all too common belief that the Israeli State can do no wrong.

    Colin (London, UK)

  54. Arin Oz says:

    I am just a humanist who wants to thank you.
    World need more Jews like you!

  55. David J says:

    Thank you rabbi for your bravery!

  56. Anna Grant Sibley says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant.

  57. Maria Rosa says:

    BRAZIL – I live in Fortaleza, Foraleza is a city in Brazil. I want to thank for working in making peace for the world. Thank you Rabbi for taking a courageous and correct position on this issue.

  58. Eva Rose says:

    Dear Rabbi:

    Thank You Thank You. My synagogue held a rally in support of Israel. I could not make myself attend. My belief is all life is precious. War is so out dated and small.

    Perhaps as humans we will heal our own wounds so we no longer have to project out onto others.
    I am no polly anna… believe me.

    I challange all of us to seek new solutions.

    Blessings and thanks for your courage,

    Eva

  59. Tony McNamara says:

    I thank you.

  60. Thank your for having the moral courage to say what is right regardless of our heritage and affiliation.

    First and foremost we are human being when we lose sight of that we are wretched people – rich or poor, Muslim or Jew.
    Even within our tradition, we elevate ourselves only when we assert our common humanity and are honest before we mature emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.

    Thanks again!

  61. Armad Bajwa says:

    Thank you for speaking up. The world needs more righteous voices like yours. It would be a much better much more livable place if before doing any harm to each other we would ask ourselves a simple question; is it fair?
    Thank you so very much.

  62. alinasenzafrontiere says:

    Thanks for speaking up for your people. People with your courage give me some hope for this divided land. Many thanks!

  63. Rick says:

    Thank you Rabbi Brant … may your voice resonate across the world to all the world’s leader.

  64. Cera says:

    Shalom Rabbi Brant,

    I want to thank you for speaking out. I am not a Jew nor an Arab, and I so glad to see more and more Jews speaking out against this muder, atrocity and carnage being perpetrated against the Palestinians in the name of “defence”. It like an old struck record, “Israel has a right to defend itself”, the Palestinians are always the bad ones, the ones who start it first.

    NO MORE! The world has to wake and see the truth, and they are, except for the US.

    Toda and shalom!

  65. Eric Gutstein says:

    Shalom. It is the appropriate word. I am an ex-JRC member, my daughter was bat mitza by Rabbi Hirsch. I live in Chicago and went to the demonstration Friday night downtown in support of the people of Gaza. The pre-rally had 4 speakers, the first and third (or fourth?), all Muslim leaders, specifically reached out to us as Jews to stand on our principles of peace and justice. I was moved and made an impromptu sign which read “Jews Against Occupation” which I held high during the rally and march. The march was almost entirely Arab, no doubt mainly Palestinian. As I walked around with the sign, many people told me “thank you.” A Palestinian teacher asked me if she could take my picture so that her students (many of whom are Palestinian) would know there was a difference between Judaism and Zionism. I said yes, and told her I wanted people to know that too.

    Thank you, Rabbi, for having the courage to make this statement. We need to stand clearly on the side of justice. Yes, I wish that Hamas’ political strategy was one of high moral ground, no rockets, a push for international pressure, boycott, sanctions, whatever, on Israel, like the movement to support Southern African liberation against apartheid. But I am not in the position the people of Gaza are in, and I can only impact on my government, and, as a Jew, on Jewish opinion and Israel. Your stand is an inspiration and powerful.

  66. I’m proud of you Brant. Well written.

    (Rick’s Brother).

  67. john abraham says:

    Rabbi Brant,
    I have read many responses to the various articles written on the ongoing Gaza tragedy. I have come away so disheartened by the violent, often racist, self-justifying comments.
    So, it is not only what you have written, but also what others have posted here, that gives me hope and a renewed energy to continue working for justice and peace.
    Clearly, we need each other – to support and inspire one another in our quest for a new world.
    Our politicians, I live in Canada but am also American, parrot the Israeli line for fear of losing the Jewish vote. Your role, and it s a tremendously important one, is to help them see that there is an emerging Jewish opposition to what Israel is doing. When that becomes a rising crescendo the politicians will notice and things will change.
    Thank-you!

  68. Brant — as colleague, friend, admirer and peer, kol hakavod. I’m about a quarter-step behind you (as usual!), but quickly getting there, and buoyed by the posts from JRC folks offering their appreciation for your courage. My challenge this weekend at Adat Shalom was to explain the matzav/situation to each grade in our Torah School, from K up to HS, in a few minutes. My message boiled down to three points:

    (1) balance — no one source or perspective has full truth; keep looking for different approaches, and stay open to multiple views, which will keep us human and compassionate as well as informed. (2) love — we should love Israel, as members of the people Israel who are bound up with the land of our ancestors and cousins and future; we must also love the other, the stranger, even as it’s natural that our love for those closest to us feels stronger [think Hillel's "if I am not for myself...if I am only for myself..."]. (3) peace — “seek peace and pursue it” says Psalm 34; it’s our highest aspiration, and whatever we advocate must somehow help bring shalom/salaam [thanks to Ramiro, above, for including the original Hebrew & Arabic; shalom-salaam is now on my email signature!].

    Chazak v’ematz, be strong and of good courage, as you say it like you see it… l’shalom, Fred

  69. Jody Johnson says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant. I have watched the news about Gaza these past few weeks with increasing sadness. It takes courage to speak the truth, and it is the beginning of change. I am a social worker in minnesota and the mother of four children. To see graphic footage of the wounded and dead children in Gaza is heartbreaking to me. It must stop. Thank you for taking a stand on this issue. You give me hope.

    Jody Johnson, LPC

  70. Selma Tischer says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,

    As I kept going gack to my computer, trying to understand the horror of the Gaza war, I was sent a link to your log. And now, I would like to say Thank you for your courage.
    This is a light in the darkness. Thanks to you and to all others whose lights are shining. All together, we may make a difference.

  71. Walid ghantous says:

    I think you have lots of courage to come out and say what you said. I am from palestine, and still have family in Nazareth and Haifa and Sakhnin and would love to see peace in the area. The problem I think is that people do not understand the whole story. Hamas is terorrist because US and Israel called them that. The struggle to solve the problem in Palestine between Arabs and Jews is very complex and complicated by the extreme right on both sides. The political ideology that is based on religion Zionist or Islam is wrong. That is the biggest problem that halts the progress towards peace. God should be in our hearts and politics is for our daily life and progress.
    Hamas fired Rockets, Israel responded but who started the trouble, the isolation the blockade the many other problems that came up who is to blame.
    Israel needs to live with the Arabs, not the puppet regimes in the area but the people. Israel should promote a secular, progressive arab politicat parties that will stop the Islamist extremist. Arabs will do that not war. Every Arab wants to live, work make money and enjoy trhe modern life.
    The current political leadership in the Arab world being so corrupt and ineffective leads to Extremism.
    I salute you and voices like yours bring hope that there are still some honest people in this world.

    Walid

  72. Wajih Sleiman says:

    Respected Rabi Brandt:

    Thank you for a good cause. Peace is what every body wants but with dignity and respect to human rights. This is what you advocate.
    Respectfully
    Wajih Sleiman

  73. Michael Zigmond says:

    Rabbi Rosen:

    Many thanks for comments. Given the state of the American Jewish community, they were courageous, a sad commentary on our double standard. I remember when my father indicated to people that if Israel did not start working to establish a just peace with its Arab neighbors, both within and outside of Israel, there would be nothing by trouble in the future. That was in 1955, while he was the visiting Rabbi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received very little support for his position and in fact was shunned in some circles.

    Now 50 years later the situation is actually far worse, and even people who surely know better — including Amos Oz and Benny Morris and, yes, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, have fallen under the spell of the quick military solution. But we should not be surprised. We saw it our coutnry with the American attacks against Vietnam many years ago and against Iraq today. It is a sad, old story: politicians use a miltary option for their own reasons, the rest of us offer our support.

    Colleagues and I have posted a petition and are collecting signatures to present to our elected representatives. Others are doing this, too, though not enough. Here is the petition in case anyone else would like to use it in their own communities:

    “As American Jews and Israelis living in this region, many with family and close friends in Israel, we affirm the need for Israel to protect its citizens from aggression. However, we deplore Israel’s extreme and brutal attacks in Gaza that have resulted in a humanitarian crisis of immeasurable proportion. These attacks have already caused more than 800 Palestinian fatalities and more than 3,000 wounded. Many are civilians, including small children. In addition, water, food, fuel, and medical supplies are in short supply. Life in Gaza has become intolerable, and even the safety of those in Southern Israel has not been achieved.

    “Israel, like Hamas, has failed to abide by its commitments to a just and lasting peace, even during the recent 6-month cease fire, and Israel’s attacks upon Gaza will not achieve that goal, one that must be attained if Israel is to continue to exist. Thus, we urge Israel as well as Hamas to accept the UN Security Council Resolution calling for an immediate cease fire. And we call upon the United States Government to take all steps within its power to effectuate the provisions of the Resolution and then to help move both parties toward true peace.”

    Please continue to speak out and let us do our best, one day at a time.

    Ziggy

  74. Susan says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,

    I am Muslim. Two of my closest friends and neighbors are Jewish. We get along wonderfully. It is possible for all of us to get along, but we need to follow the teachings of the Prophet Moses as a foundation. Thank you for clinging to that moral and spiritual fiber which we, the children of Abraham, share.

    GOD BLESS YOU.

  75. Diana Reiss says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant

  76. Dear Rabbi Brant,
    I was so very touched by your post, and the many responses of agreement and support. Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind!” We indeed are our brothers’ keeper. I believe that everything we do and say effects everything and everyone around us, six degrees of separation, connectivity hypothesis, that we can perpetuate the same reality, or create a new one, and in so doing affect the consciousness of the world. You are doing that, including everyone here who is in agreement, and those who consciously make the same decision. I pray many more people find your post here, and it makes a lasting impression, inspires change, and gives hope.

    Infinite blessings to all.

    For everyone reading this: Please contact your respective government officials about the situation in Gaza demanding an immediate cease fire, and allowing humanitarian aid. You can do so by signing petitions found at these sites, and there are many other ways to help:

    http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

    http://www.amnesty.org/

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/

  77. Arlene Kushner says:

    I write this from Israel, and I know how mistaken you are in what you say. But I will not argue with you because you refer to discussion as a “perverse game of rhetorical ping pong.”

    Instead, I want to ask a question. And if you are as moral as you aspire to be, you will answer me forthrightly:

    You say, “We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world.”

    I would like to know when is the last time you took on the issue of human rights abuses committed by Arabs?

    Have you ever spoken out about Arab female genital mutilation, or Arab family honor killings, or the fact that Egypt sometimes shoots in the back refugees from Sudan who are trying to make their way to Israel, where they will be safe?

    Have you ever decried the killing by the PA of so-called collaborators? Have you ever expressed concern about the fact that the PA does not allow freedom of the press?

    Have you ever grappled with the severe deprivation of human rights suffered by Arab children who are forced into participation in war or terrorist activities — this coercion being forbidden by Geneva conventions?

  78. Rubens Turkienicz says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant!

  79. Lutuf Ghantous says:

    Rabbi Brant

    I am 70 years old Palestinian from Haifa who lives in Wilmette. I never thought in my life that I will read such an article from a Rabbi.

    God bless you, and I hope that you will be able to
    continue in your work, and in spreading the truth.

  80. Mona UmIbrahim says:

    Thank you Rabbi.

  81. Tom Steiner says:

    Beautiful piece. As a Jew, the son of a holocaust survivor, and most of all as a human being I thank you for speaking out. As to what you should do now I think the most important thing is just to continue to do so.

  82. Ali says:

    Rabbi Brant-It always warms my heart when people swim against the tide in order to say or do the right thing. It is obvious that God did not intend for the Holiest of Lands to be a possession for those who claim to honor Him fight and kill one another for.

    Keep up the Good work…may God bless you and keep you safe.

    Salam

  83. Melissa says:

    I want to thank you for these powerful and brave words. Your writing helped me to clarify my own thoughts around the tragedy unfolding in Gaza, and to take a more public stand as an American Jew. I am also so encouraged that there is a synagogue here in Chicago with a rabbi who is so eloquently thinking through and speaking out on these issues; it makes me feel like there might be a community for me to explore this central part of my identity. Thank you!

  84. Jodie Capron says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant, for your courage to speak out against the suffering.

    I pray every day for a world where ALL children are safe to grow up healthy and happy, regardless of where on this beautiful planet they live, or the religion they practice.

    When I see the pictures of the destruction and the misery, I don’t see Palestinian or Israeli, I just see children hurting and afraid, lost and without care.

    There is no rationale that can satisfy an orphan’s loss, no rhetoric that can heal the parent of a dead child.

    We are all connected, and crime against one is crime against us all, against our very humanity. I can only hope that many people read your words, or the words of another wise enough to see past the hatred, and that we can begin to heal our family of humans.

  85. jasegraves says:

    Thank you Rabbi for speaking out, and for all who commented positively on this blog.

    Perhaps in our lifetimes, we will see peace, justice and the children of Abraham living together in harmony and cooperation, side by side, in their own countries, raising their families to look at the past…….and never repeat it.

  86. Zsuzsa Eastland says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant.

  87. Rachel Mueller says:

    Rabbi Brant, Thank you for your courage in speaking out. In answer to your question What can you do? Go to websites that simplify the process of contacting your senators, representatives and the White House. They also give you eye witness accounts of reality on the ground in the Holy Land. For starters, I urge you to look at:

    eliyahu@jerusalempeacemakers.org and jewishvoiceforpeace.org.

    Get on their newsletter lists. They also give you info on groups near you.

  88. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for saying this about Gaza, Rabbi. It takes courage. I’m grateful

  89. Thank you Rabbi Brant Rosen for your comment.
    I am Iranian and I am very sad about what happening in Gaza. Your voice is matter.
    Thanks.

  90. Abdul Kargbo says:

    Rabbi Brant,

    Thank you so much for finally giving voice to my sadness and frustration with what is going on in Gaza.

    I am (despite my name) a Jew (of Russian and Sierra Leonean descent) and I have struggled my mixed emotions regarding how the state of Israel treats the Palestinian nation.

    I have often been reluctant to criticize Israel, understanding how important the defence of Israel is to Jews around the world. And, not having been raised in a traditional White/Ashkenazi Jewish environment, I cannot pretend to understand how/why Israel is so important that her actions must be defended at all costs. Regardless, I have bitten my tongue out of respect for all those who have such a strong emotional connection to Israel.

    But I’ve been getting less and less comfortable with my silence and the silence of other liberal Jews on the question of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

    It’s good to know I’m not alone. And neither are you.

    You’ve said it. What’s next, I don’t know. But know that you’ve got 100% of my support.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

  91. Sister Suzanne Herder, CSJ says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant. May we all work and pray for peace, together.

  92. Paul-Malta says:

    Nice one rabbi Brant.
    I am not of your faith but I admire you alot.
    The world needs men like you.
    God bless you and keep you.

  93. tricia3 says:

    The thing is, everyone is in the wrong and its time for compassion and compromise in the name of peace and humanity.
    Thanks for stepping up and saying something.

  94. laila says:

    Rabbi Brant
    If there is more peaple like you the world will be much better. Thank you so much,may God or Allah bless you.

  95. Nidal says:

    Thank you Rabbi Brant for standing up for justice, as a Palestinian expelled out in ’86 ended up marring a Jew in the US w/ 2 kids was the best thing ever happened to me. we all one people. lets love and forgive, so we can stop the blood shed once and for all

  96. Dave Hall says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant, for your brave stance.

    Please know that your words are taken to heart by us Arabs, and we will not forget your goodness and bravery.

    May voices such as your prevail so that all of us – Arab, Jew, whoever – can live in harmony.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  97. Stephen Rosenbaum says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant. We need more rabbis and American Jewish leaders speaking out!

    Stephen Rosenbaum
    California

  98. Elconejo says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,
    We all tend to hide the light within. If we let it shine forth, it will penetrate into he darkest place. I encourage you to let shine and help to extinguish the ignorance that is the cause of all suffering.

  99. Keysha says:

    Peace be unto you and your readers,

    I am so pleased to see all of the diversity of comments coming together in unity.

    Rabbi Brant, you have written a song of peace and I’m proud that it was my first real article I’ve ever read from a rabbi. What comfort and hopefulness it brings to my mind. I pray this is the path and new blessings the children Israel and Palestine will soon feel.

    Here is a web site that maybe some of these 100 responses can use to be heard again:
    http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory

    This is the site for the new Obama Administration. They are dormant now, but with faith in God, hopefully we will get them to see the need to ask each other “what do you need, rather than what are you trying to get”

    I wish you all the best in your endeavors, sincerely,

    Keysha A.
    Chicago, IL

  100. Nancy Thomas says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,
    I was referred to your blog by a Palestinian friend. I am neither Muslim or Jewish. I am just an American with a conscience….and at times like this, I am embarassed to be American. I commend you for taking such a stance on Gaza. I would recommend that our incoming President Elect contact you for leading his peace efforts. At least someone is brave enough to be unbiased and truthful. You are doing the right thing….keep on doing!

  101. Allan says:

    Hamas is an extremist Islamist organisation strongly supported by Iran, especially in armaments smuggled thro’ the 850 tunnels from Egypt (which foolishly turns a blind eye, as Hamas is allied with the much-feared Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood).
    Ariel Sharon made the biggest mistake in his life when he forced the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, when Fatah was still in charge and we could have negotiated the painful destruction of all the beautiful Israeli settlements for a beginning of peace in the area. What happened? Hamas said to the Gazans: “We chased the hated Israelis out of Gaza, now vote us in and we will finish the job of destroying Israel”, so they voted Hamas in in 2007. After destroying Fatah in the Gaza strip, Hamas used the millions in aid, not to turn Gaza into a second Hong Kong, but to make it a fortress from which to attack Israel. Using techniques tried and perfected by Hizbullah in 2006, they have built a network of scattered fighting centres in residential buildings throughout the very tightly-packed Gaza towns and refugee camps (maintained at all our expenses by the U.N.), with a sophisticated wire-less communications system buit-in.
    This has achieved two objectives – firstly it makes it very difficult for the Israeli air force to destroy these nests and secondly it ensures heavy civilian casualities, which, believe it or not, serves their cause, as it did for Hizbollah in 2006.
    Now, what happened recently? We had a period of “calm” for some months, during which Hamas “only” fired a few rockets daily, indiscriminately at Israeli civilians (this is O.K., as Hamas is a terrorist organisation and is allowed to attack people). Israel retaliated by the only peaceful means we had, i.e. an on-and-off blockade of certain goods going in to Gaza. “certain” because it was only partial, for instance Gaza gets 65% of its electricity direct from Israel and Egypt and supplies were never cut (even tho’ at one time Hamas fired mortar shells at an electric pylon feeding Gaza – this is typical of them, they are firing at the crossing-points now, even as trucks are bringing them supplies daily!).
    Finally, Hamas abrogated the “calm” one-sidedly and began firing 40 to 50 rockets daily at several southern Israeli towns, kibbutzim, etc., claiming that they were retaliating for the “dreadful” blockade.
    Now, what would you have done?
    We did the obvious – hit back – knowing that it is basically a no-win set-up, as the smuggling tunnel system is too vast to destroy and control (some tunnels are 30 meters deep and Hamas gets between 6 and 8 million Euros equivalent monthly in tunnel income). Hamas have some 4000 various rockets, located mostly in crowded residential areas, some even fired from below ground. Additionally, if we really go into the hornet’s nest of the towns, we risk heavy casualties to our soldiers (our Sons) and to the Gazans.
    So the world will turn on us and force a cease-fire, which Hamas will claim as a victory and then get around, just as Hizbollah has, so as to prepare for the next fight. I hope I am proved wrong and all that you kindly western-thinking people in your snuggeries far, far from the danger are right, but I fear not.

  102. patricia says:

    Thank you for your compassion and making a difference. Your words help alleviate the pain of watching this carnage in Gaza.

  103. Bill says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Brant. Thank you.

    I am not familiar enough with the ground-realities that immediately preceeded this war.

    Israel has the right to defend borders occupied by a “sworn enemy.” That said, Israel’s two most recent and overwhelming retaliatory wars are out of proportion. They are a genuine disgrace.

    The re-creation of Israel, on the other hand, in the 40′s might correlate to a forced evacuation of Manhattan for its return to Native Americans. Forgiveness may arrive but not within the span of just this generation or two.

    I pray daily that Palestine will come to terms and push forward to become a lobbying power-base and a commercial powerbroker.

    Please, Palestine, lay down your guns to unify toward commercial and entrepreneurial excellence in your homeland. Join the battle for economic superiority. Your success will be your sweetest revenge.

    As the world struggles to get its mind mind around the many contradictions that surround the Israel – Palestine conflict, this I pray: Win, Palestine. Win through commercial success.

  104. John Farley says:

    Dear Brant Rosen:

    You will undoubtedly get a lot of grief about your statement.

    It takes courage to say what you said, but it needs to be said.

    If there’s any hope for peace between Israeli Jews ad Palestinians, you just made an important contribution. And I hope others will follow your example.

    Thank you very much!

    -John Farley
    Henderson NV

  105. Abdul says:

    Rabbi, Salam (Peace on you and your family).

    Thanks for saying what is obvious. Truth always prevails.

    Hope your statement will give courage to other leaders to see truth and help protect innocent life of childrens and civilians.

    I pray that God ‘s help come to you against any evil of this world.
    Salam.

  106. Karen Klein says:

    Hi,

    I’m a member of Workmen’s Circle in Boston, and also a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

    Thanks Jesse for forwarding this blog to us.

    In answer to ‘what to do now’….

    Below is a joint statement issued yesterday by prominent Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders in the Boston area.

    Today we’re having a silent vigil for the people of Gaza and Israel and in support of this declaration. Perhaps others around the country would like to adopt something similar.

    It is one way for us to work together, cross boundaries and let the people of Israel/Palestine know there are Americans who value all lives. As others have said…..’All land is chosen, all people are holy.’

    Always glad to know we are not alone, working for peace for all peoples. After the debates and rationales, what remains is the simple fact that we all have the right to live peacefully in a just world.

    Karen

    AN INTERFAITH DECLARATION FOR PEACE
    We, members and leaders of the Muslim, Jewish, and
    Christian communities in Greater Boston – all having deep
    and symbolic ties to the land and peoples of the Middle
    East – are anguished by the events unfolding in Israel and
    Gaza. Recognizing the legitimate needs of all peoples,
    including all those living in the Middle East, for dignity,
    peace, safety and security –- regardless of religion, race,
    or national origin — we issue this joint statement with
    the hope and belief that our interfaith voices will be
    heard clearly, above the din of war.
    As guiding principles,
     We acknowledge the long, complex, and painful history
    of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
     We acknowledge the wide range of deeply-held beliefs,
    and intensely-felt narratives on all sides
     We acknowledge that all sides are capable of assigning
    blame to others, and asserting justification for their
    cause
     We observe that violence by any side begets more
    violence, hatred, and retaliation
     We deplore any invocation of religion as a
    justification for violence against others, or the
    deprivation of the rights of others
     We decry any use of inflammatory rhetoric that
    demonizes the other and is intended, or is likely, to
    promote hatred and disrespect
     We believe the conflict can be resolved only through a
    political and diplomatic solution and not a military
    one.
    In the face of many competing narratives, we recognize that
    the overriding common need of the peoples of the region is
    the prompt implementation of a just and lasting peace.
    Toward that end, and particularly in response to the
    current hostilities,
     We call upon the United States and the international
    community immediately to intercede to help reestablish
    a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, toward the goal
    of a permanent cessation of hostilities
     We call upon Hamas immediately to end all rocket
    attacks on Israel, and upon Israel immediately to end
    its military campaign in Gaza
     We call for an immediate end to all strikes on
    civilian centers and citizens, both Israeli and
    Palestinian
     We call for lifting of the blockade on Gaza as to all
    non-military goods, for an immediate and significant
    increase in humanitarian aid to address the needs of
    the people of Gaza, and for all parties involved to
    join in taking responsibility to address those human
    needs
     We call on all parties involved in the conflict to
    work sincerely and vigorously toward a just and
    lasting peace that addresses and promotes the national
    aspirations of both the Israeli and Palestinian
    peoples
     We call on President-elect Obama to make clear that as
    President he will urgently assert US leadership to
    achieve a comprehensive diplomatic resolution of the
    Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts
    Through this joint statement we affirm our commitment to
    engage with one another, even, and especially, during times
    of great stress. We also affirm our common humanity and
    our common belief – as Jews, Muslims and Christians – that
    the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must cease, that there is
    no military or violent solution, that all human life is
    valued, and that all parties must cooperate to make the
    peace – a just and lasting peace desperately needed and
    deserved by all the peoples of the region.

    Signed:
    Salwa Abd-Allah, Executive Council, Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS Boston), Islamic
    Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC)
    Tariq Ali, President, Harvard Islamic Society
    Hossam AlJabri, President, MAS Boston-ISBCC; Trustee, Interreligious Center for Public Life
    (ICPL)
    Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, President, United Church of Christ Mass. Conference
    Abdul Cader Asmal, Past President, Islamic Council of New England and Islamic Center
    of Boston; Trustee ICPL
    Rabbi Al Axelrad, Hillel Director Emeritus, Brandeis University
    Diane Balser, Executive Director, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom
    Dorothy C. Buck, Ph.D., Director, Badaliya
    Rev. Nick Carter, Ph.D., President, Andover Newton Theological School
    Dris Djermoun, President, Islamic Center of Boston (Wayland)
    Diana L. Eck, Professor, Harvard University
    Imam Talal Eid, Islamic Institute of Boston; Chaplain Brandeis University
    Ashraf Elkerm, Board Chairman, Islamic Center of Greater Worcester
    Rev. Dr. Terasa G. Cooley, Unitarian Universalist Mass. Bay District Executive
    Mercedes S. Evans, Esq., Committee on Contemporary Spiritual & Public Concerns (CSPC
    Committee) (Civil Rights)
    Imam Abdullah Faruuq, Imam, Mosque for the Praising of Allah (Roxbury)
    Michael Felsen, President, Boston Workmen’s Circle
    Lisa Gallatin, Executive Director, Boston Workmen’s Circle
    Zekeriyya Gemici, President, MIT Muslim Students Association
    Rabbi David Gordis
    Rabbi Arthur Green, Rector, Rabbinical School, Hebrew College, Newton
    Rev. Raymond G. Helmick, S.J., Instructor, Conflict Resolution, Boston College
    Arnold Hiatt
    Rev. Jack Johnson, Executive Director, Mass. Council of Churches
    M. Bilal Kaleem, Executive Director, MAS Boston-ISBCC
    Anwar Kazmi, Executive Council, MAS Boston-ISBCC
    Alexander Kern, Executive Director, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries
    Nabeel Khudairi, Past President, Islamic Council of New England
    Idit Klein, Executive Director, Keshet
    Margie Klein, Co-Director, Moishe/Kavod House
    Mary Lahaj, Muslim Chaplain, Simmons College
    Geoffrey Lewis
    Imam Taalib Mahdee, Imam, Masjid Al-Quran, (Dorchester)
    Rev. Bert Marshall, Church World Service, New England Director
    Jerome D. Maryon, Esq., President, CSPC Committee
    Michael J. Moran, Pax Christi Massachusetts
    Sister Jane Morrissey, SSJ, Pax Christi Massachusetts
    Merrie Najimy, President, American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee, MA
    Imam Khalid Nasr, Imam, ICNE-Quincy
    Imam Basyouni Nehela, Imam, Islamic Society of Boston
    Rashid Noor, President, Islamic Center of New England
    Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow
    Rabbi Barbara Penzner, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah
    Rev. Rodney L. Petersen, Ph.D., Executive Director, Boston Theological Institute
    Dr Asif Rizvi, President-Elect, Islamic Council of New England
    Rabbi Victor Reinstein, Nehar Shalom
    Rev. Anne Robertson, Executive Director, Massachusetts Bible Society
    Qasim Salimi, President, Boston University Muslim Students Association
    Robert M. Sarly, Trustee, ICPL
    Rev. Mikel E. Satcher, Ph.D., Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church
    Professor Adam Seligman, Boston University
    Rabbi Sanford Seltzer, Chair, ICPL
    Enid Shapiro, Trustee, ICPL
    Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Episcopal Bishop, Diocese of Massachusetts
    Alan Solomont
    Rabbi Toba Spitzer, Congregation Dorshei Tzedek
    Rev. John K. Stendahl, Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Newtons
    Sidney Topol
    Rabbi Andrew Vogel, Temple Sinai
    Peter D. Weaver, Bishop, United Methodist Church, Boston Area
    (Organizational affiliations for identification purposes only)

  107. Steven Meinrath says:

    Thank you Rabbi Rosen. Your courage and willingness to speak the truth in this time of crisis uphold the most precious aspects of our Jewish heritage: reverence for life, a passion for justice and the duty to speak truth to power in defense of both.

    Along with many, many other Jews of conscience, I stand with you.

  108. Thomas Bauer says:

    Dear Rabbi!

    i am so glad i had the chance to read your words! Yes it is EXTREMELY important that you, a Rabbi, talks in this way. It is important since those outside of Israel, outside of the Jewish community, when they care about the victims, are so fast attacked as “antisemites” .

    I care about the victims on both sides. And i wonder how long intelligent people need to learn something from the past! Isn’t it clear that all these wars ant “operations” have not created more security in the mid-East. but more victims? Aren’t the children terrorized today the hopeless suicidal “terrorists” of tomorrow? Isn’t suicide – and Hamas’ activity is suicidal! – an expression of absolutely no hope?

    I wish that violence stops, and that some reasonable people from both sides find together and make peace, just as de Gaulle and Adenauer made peace in Europe after WW2.

  109. Finally, a Rabbi with Chutzpah!

    Beloved Rabbi:

    In the mental health professions, when we are treating dysfunctional families, we first work to identify and reduce the stressors on these families, so we can get to the bottom of their dysfunctions. What the Israelis need to learn, since they are the more functional of these two very dysfunctional families, is that they could achieve more stability and peace in the region if they would just help to reduce the stressors on the Gazans, not escalate the stressors. To blockade the Gazans instead of sending in supplies and support would have cost less in lives and shakel than to send in tanks. It was a huge and tragic mistake, and unfortunately the world remained silent until now.

    What it will take is a Love-Thine-Enemies approach. Send in food, supplies, medicines, followed by investments in infrastructure as a way to rebuild Gazan society. An apology for the disproportional response would be well received, but it is just as important to win the hearts and minds of Gazans if you want to disempower Hamas.

    Love, light and shadow,
    Jalaledin

  110. Hal Edwards says:

    Rabbi Brant,

    How can I thank you enough!! Having been in Gaza in years past and in Israel and on the West Bank four times over the years, I have seen what you describe. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your honest reporting, your prophetic stance, your compassion that compels you to speak your truth.

    I am troubled often as a liberal Protestant clergyman when I see the very soul of Israel being torn apart with fear-based offensives that only promise more of the same violence.

    May your voice and the energy of nonviolence reverberate deeply into the collective psyche of our global family.

    God’s rich blessings, protection, wisdom upon you and your family.

    Dr. Hal Edwards
    Wauconda, IL

  111. Bob Davis says:

    I am a Jew who lives in San Diego. A Jewish friend sent me your piece and I was very moved. Amal’s response almost brought me to tears. I have had some very tense moments with members of my family in discussing the Gaza situation.I think my cousin might be a member of your congregation. I am horrified by the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza and honor your courage is speaking out. I hope your words do not fall on deaf ears.

  112. Kabir Mohammed says:

    Rabbi Brant

    To begin with a similar gesture… As a Muslim American, I have a bias to Palestinians similar to may Jews have to Israel. I condemn any attack that Hamas or anyone else commits against innocent civilians, especially when done in the name of Islam. You have inspired me to reach out to fellow Jewish Americans to show the world that we both agree on the injustices at play.

  113. Mary says:

    Thank you Rabbi Brandt,

    As a Protestant Christian who recently visited Israel/Palestine and saw the fear and tensions that lead to bad policies that harm people on both sides, I thank God for people like you who have the courage to speak their concience for peace.
    You encourage all of us to demand that our US government work for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza , humanitarian aid for the Gazans and an even handed and serious committment to helping create long term peace.

    My thanks and prayers for your leadership, and for your personal health and blessings.

  114. Jade Dell says:

    Dear Rabbi,
    Thank you for saying what you needed to say. It is a painful reality, but the U.S. needs to stop automatically supporting EVERYTHING Israel does, because sometimes Israel does the wrong thing. Many, many of us are standing with you. Jade Dell, a United Methodist

  115. Ann Wood says:

    Dear Rabbi
    Thank you for speaking truth. I am distraught that my country is presently engaging in war crimes against Afghanistani citizens, Iraqi citizens, and Palestinian citizens I will include Israeli citizens and say
    that sending arms and money to Israel amounts to being responsible for both Israeli and Pakistani deaths. Why is man the only animal to organize, and kill its own kind for no reason other than profit? President elect Obama must
    declare “victory” in Afghanistan and start immediately rebuilding hospitals, schools, and homes in that country.
    We must provide help with restoring an economy that does not rely on the exportation of drugs. Rebuilding infrastructure in the places we have destroyed might just
    change the course of the future for all of us. You will
    be loved, and valued by people of all beliefs and in all the world when your courage is known. The “king” truly
    has no clothes.
    Ann Wood
    agnostic

  116. Heather says:

    I agree with Ann Wood above me:

    “I am distraught because my country is presently engaging in war crimes against Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians… and I will include Israeli citizens by saying that I believe sending arms and money to Israel amounts to being responsible for both Israeli and Palestinian deaths.”

    And I also agree with you, Rabbi. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the US’ support of these measures and the measures themselves, are NOT bringing safety nor security to the people of Israel – NOR WILL THEY EVER!!!
    I only see a viciously destructive cycle.

    So what do you do now that you’ve said it?
    How about starting with signing and passing along this petition, that would work in the interests of ALL parties:

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/end-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict.html

    What I truly appreciate the most, is this part of your blog:

    “We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass.”

    I cannot for the life of me, understand why an oppressed people, would support the oppression of another! It takes a man of intense integrity to admit being guilty of this hypocrisy, and an even bigger man to seek to resolve it – first and foremost, by laying yourself bare. Bravo! You have my deepest love & respect. I have every confidence you will find many meaningful and powerful “things to do” about it, now that you’re looking for them.

    Peace & abundant blessings be with you,
    Heather

  117. Thank you for speaking the truth;as far as there are human beings like you in our planet there is hope that some days we all will live together in peace and harmony.
    Abdul

  118. MB says:

    Shalom! Salam!
    I have been feeling sad, empty and helpless in the passed few days.. The images of death, fear and misery has been torturing me!! I’m a muslim and a mother. I was raised to love and respect all religions and people. Some of my closest friends and neighbors are Jewish. Our children are friends and we look after each other. As people of faith, we always have unbelievable respect each other.
    Your words and the comments from all the people on this blog lightened up my heart. There is is still hope!! Rabbi Brant you are a truly wonderful person!

  119. Dean Shallah says:

    I don’t want to question the politics but I want to ask as to where are the values for humanity, compassion and mercy.

  120. carlos yantorno says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,
    Thank you for having the courage to say what must be said, this violence is harmful not only for the Palestinian people, but also for Israelis and Jews around the world, as some take advantage to blame the “Jews” in general for this.It plants the seeds for more hate and violence. I am from Argentina but have always felt this conflict very close. Besides all the humanitarian reasons, knowing that my mother’s maiden name is from the times when the Spanish Inquisition forcefully converted Jews and changed the name, in our case, to Romero, the name of a plant, may have in my case something to do with this too. Justice is the way to peace.
    Shalom-Salam-Peace
    Carlos

  121. Wendy Elisheva Somerson says:

    Yasher Koach! Thank you for speaking out against the Israeli government’s actions. In this sad and horrible time, I’ve been struggling with the lack of Jewish spiritual leadership that truly speaks out for a just peace. I am ashamed of what is being done to the people of Gaza in my name as a Jew. And I feel pushed outside the Jewish spiritual community when I try to make my voice heard. I hope that your words inspire more Jewish spiritual leaders to take a risk and stand up for peace and justice in the Middle East. Shalom, Salaam, Wendy

  122. Adam AbdAllah says:

    Thank You: Two small words to convey the infinite feeling in my heart.

    SALAM

  123. Khalida Khan says:

    Dear Rabbi Brant,
    We have heard your message in the UK and have posted it in our newsletter. We are a women led organisation working for Muslim families. Your words have moved us and we appreciate the courage it must have taken to have done this. Thank you and may God bless you.

  124. Mary Smith says:

    Thank you for your brave and courageous stand; I would like to commend you for this, and pray that many more will join you.

  125. Steve Klein says:

    Nothing new to say here. I just wanted to put my heartfelt vote to Israel’s using whatever means to stop the Hamas violence toward Israel and toward the Palestinian people. Now that Israel is pulling troops back out of Gaza, it would seem to put the lie to the ridiculous accusation that Israel wants to re-occupy Gaza.
    I would just ask the Hamas sympathyzers (as if I need to)- where were your outraged voices when the rockets fell on Jewish babies?! Have a good life. Regards to the “Rabbi”.

  126. Mashood YUnus says:

    Thx a lot for the open message and those who question about rockets about “jewish babies”? some questions for you? Who is saying that attacking the babies is OK but who moved the arabs their lands under the Balfour statement? Who were willing to come and force arabs of any religion to move out of their space until 1948. Who declared the state and kept grabbing land? who then seiged people and got weapons from US in the name of democracy until now? Who lived outside the barriers which divided homes, farms and villages. in last 18 months who was living under the economic siege? history will never forgive us for not upholding the justice. right of some people to “live” doesn’t translate to “annihilation of other people” to make space. When so called “educated” and civilized with all their technology make such onoe-sided comments (such as steve klien), why should humanity and history forgive us?

  127. Margie says:

    Rabbi we are all sick of war and sick of bloodshed. I am pleased to see that you are a man of peace living in a land which is strong enough to offer you protection. I am pleased to see that your correspondents want peace too and praise you for your words.

    I wish that you would convince Hamas that the way to peace isn’t via shelling our children. Perhaps you aren’t aware of the facts of the issue but 75 percent of children in Sderot and surrounding towns are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome because for the past eight years, there has been an unceasing barrage of rockets on their town. These children jump at the sound of a slammed door, wet their beds at the sound of a siren in the night.

    You wash your hands of the problem because your children are safe and criticise us for defending ours.

  128. will says:

    you need to understand that the palestinians as a group want the death of Israel and all jews. That includes you rabbi and once you overcome your Stockholm Syndrome you will understand that. They elected the terrorists of Hamas. They danced in the streets in joy when the Towers fell

  129. Infidelicious says:

    I’m sorry but this just doesn’t move me the slightest. The people of Gaza sowed the seeds of terror when they elected Hamas, and now they are reaping the whirlwind. I feel no sympathy for them.

  130. [...] death onto the besieged Gaza Strip.  As the war began, Rabbi Brant took an unusual stand in a post declaring that he could no longer rationalize or apologize for Israel’s treatment of Pale…. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has brought neither safety nor [...]

  131. Rabbi Rosen, I heard you on KBCS (Seattle) this morning, and I want to thank you for your original and continuing honesty on this very difficult issue. As a reform Jew, I have struggled for years with my guilt at being unable to support Israel’s actions. This very divisive issue puts the thinking Jew in a difficult conundrum, and I felt this sense of great relief when I listened to you speak of this. It’s just good to know that I’m not alone in my sense of confusion and betrayal. I sure wish I’d read this in 2008. :)

    Thank you,
    Chava

  132. […] in Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, that Rabbi Brant Rosen hit the “send” key for a blog post that he believed could well pitch him out of his […]


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