Gaza Crisis Letter


Here’s a letter I recently sent off to the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times: 

To the editor,

I recently traveled with a Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories. We met with academics, peace activists, and politicians, including Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayad. Among other things, we learned much about the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, circumstances reflected in the 1/22/08 article, “Tens of thousands of Palestinians flood into Egypt through breached Gaza wall.”

Critics of Gaza’s Hamas-led government blame the destitution on the firing of Qassam rockets into southern Israel and clearly, such attacks are intolerable. No country should be expected to remain passive under attack.

But are Israel’s economic blockade and military incursions providing the answer? Currently 860,000 Gazans – more than half the population – now rely on the UN for food. In recent military operations, some twenty Palestinians were killed, including a three-year-old girl. Israel may hope its tactics will turn Gazans against Hamas, but given the choice to hate Hamas or hate Israel, Palestinians will most certainly choose the latter.

Economic deprivation is clearly not working, and we know that there’s no military solution. As always, the only answer is negotiation, as President Bush indicated at the Annapolis peace conference. In the short term this means a negotiated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas; long term, it means a two-state solution.

This won’t be easy. It won’t happen in one step, and more blood may be shed. Bush’s path is far from clear, but those who support Israel must support his efforts towards peace and encourage him to follow up his words with strong actions.

Clearly, war and collective punishment aren’t the answer. If Israel and the Palestinians want true peace and security, the only solution will occur across a table.


Rabbi Brant Rosen
Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston
Brit Tzedek v’Shalom Rabbinic Cabinet

5 thoughts on “Gaza Crisis Letter

  1. Ozymandias

    When the antisemites flock to your blog you know that you have chosen a particularly “difficult” position.

  2. Genie Holmes

    I have listened to peace activists as they recount their experience at the walls and gates that keep Israelis in and Palestinians out; to two men from Israel and Palestine once holding guns and stones and now working vigorously with Combatants for Peace. I have visited in Lebanon during the Civil War in the 70s and 80s, both times to celebrate a wedding, and worked in Qatar and traveled through Jordan as a single woman in 2005. I love the Middle East, its history, its cultures and its people, and it is clear to me that until all violence and threat to life ceases be it through withdrawing food, medicine, education, decent work, personal safety there will be no peace, no hope. The human spirit will not except it. Walls between Palestine and Israel are not the answer. just as wells between Mexico and the United States are not the answer. We must actively begin to listen to each other with a fervent focus on peace and dignity and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for families on both sides of the border.

  3. Chicago

    Israel is like any other big government. Their policies make the other “revolt” Opression causes revolt and israel opresses just like the U.S. opresses. It is not the people, it is the government and then they lie about the reasons for the opression(denial of opression).

    Let me ask you a question that is related to the U.S. policy of Iraq. If the U.S. invaded your country, killed millions of civilians (your family and friends) Would you not get tired of the opression and murder? Would you start fighting back? Or would you just wait for your ticket to be called?

    You people need to wake up and realise that Gov’s are bad. The people of a country may have good intentions, but governments lie, always have and always will. Learn history.

  4. Yehuda Draiman, energy consultant

    Israel should have responded sooner – It is Israel’s government fault for this escalation.

    For years the Arab population around and surrounding Israel has been bombing with rockets and suicide bombers.

    Would the U.S. or any other country shown such restraint while its citizens are terrorized, the answer is absolutely not.

    Israel chose restraint. The Arab world sees restrained as a sign of weakness and capitulation.

    It is long overdue for Israel to take off the gloves and respond with extreme force and keep the pressure without relenting.

    Do not worry about the media or world opinion. You do whatever you have to, to defend your country and its population.

    People in the world respect those in power who defend their citizens and not weaklings, even though they may object initially.

    If the Arab permit extremist to hide among civilians, they must bear the consequences, it is a right and an obligation to protect its citizens by any means available – no force is too small, extreme force and prejudice is required.

    For every bullet a grenade, for every missile a bombardment. When Sharon was defense minister many years ago, that was the policy and it worked, it will work today also.

    Anyone threatening the security will be expelled out of their homes and the greater Israel.

    Jay Draiman


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