Israel in Gaza: A Statement by the JVP Rabbinical Council

photo: AFP: Menahem Kahana

photo: AFP: Menahem Kahana

Cross-posted with The Palestinian Talmud

We are currently amidst “the three weeks” – the annual Jewish period of quasi-mourning that leads to the fast day of Tisha B’Av. This is the season that bids us to look deeply into the soul of our community and examine the ways that our sinat chinam – baseless hatred – has led to our communal downfall.

Driven by the spirit of this season, we cannot help but speak out in response to the horrific loss of life currently taking place in Gaza, at the hands of the Israeli military. We deplore the Israeli government’s military crackdown in the West Bank that led to its lethal, military onslaught on the people of Gaza.  We mourn the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, including children.

We condemn Hamas’ rockets attacks on Israel and are deeply grieved by the anxiety, injury and death they have caused. But we cannot view this as a war between two equal sides. Israel has unlimited hi-tech weaponry; it dominates Gazan airspace, its borders, its utilities and economy.

Moreover, it was Israel who willfully launched this mission of death on the Palestinian people. Israel hides behind the pretext of avenging the still unsolved kidnapping and killing of three Jewish boys. Rather than seeking recourse through civil, legal means, Israel’s leaders have called for vengeance, with terrible consequences.

We can not stand idly by as the Jewish State acts with such wanton disregard, with such sinat chinam, for the humanity of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, children and elders of Gaza.

As Jews, we abhor the abuse of human rights that are standard practice of our fellow Jews in the Israeli government and Israeli military. This is not the path of justice.

As rabbis, we must speak out against collective punishment, the blowing up homes of innocent people, the terrorizing of an entire people, and the killing of innocent children.

This Jewish season asks us to engage in a collective moral accounting; to reckon seriously with the ways our own failings have historically led to our communal downfall. Mindful of this spiritual imperative, we call upon the government of Israel to end its military onslaught, which we believe will only lead to more tragedy for Jews and Palestinians alike.

We stand with all people of conscience who reject the ways of militarism and occupation and who seek a path to a truly just peace in Israel/Palestine.

*Statements of the JVP Rabbinical Council represent the council as a whole but not necessarily individual members

24 thoughts on “Israel in Gaza: A Statement by the JVP Rabbinical Council

  1. Bilal Qayum

    While not wishing to wade into Jewish theology, since I’m not from within that community, this statement appears to draw from the deep well of humanistic, moral and ethnical philosophy from the Abrahamic traditions, for that you have my thanks and support.

  2. Roch

    Thank you, while ALL citizens in EVERY nation should be conscripted, so they become part of the process and these decisions are not left to a few. May this end.

  3. 2skipper

    Thank you once again for Expressing what many Jews feel about what is happening right know in the middle east. You have said with passion and expressed the way you always do.

  4. AD

    JVP and Rabbi Brant are complicit in the violence, death and destruction taking place in Gaza because of their support of the intransigence of Hamas, their unwillingness of accept the existence of Israell, their use of children as human shields, their storing of weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques, their violence against the LGBT community, their subjugation of women and minorities and their charter which seeks to kill all Jews. Rabbi Brant’s mendacious statement is cynical, self serving and disgusting.

    1. Benjy Ben-Baruch

      Shalom AD,

      I am really struggling to understand your comments because you obviously took the time to absorb the JVP statement. But I have been struggling to connect your comments with reality. I think, however, that I have finally got it.

      JVP and Rabbi Rosen oppose the Occupation and the policies of the Netanyahu government. This means that they are the enemies of the Jewish people and that they support everything that is evil in the world — especially Hamas. Their incessant condemnations of Hamas are e3ssentially meaningless to you because they cannot possibly condemn both Israel and Hamas. Therefore, since they condemn Israel and Hamas their condemnations of Hamas must really be support of Hamas.

      Do I understand your reality?

    2. Benjy Ben-Baruch

      I cannot answer for JVP or for Rabbi Rosen. But as for myself, I am most definitely complicit in war crimes. This was clearly confirmed by the Kahane Commission’s report. Prior to 1982 I had actively supported Israel and contributed to funds that underwrote Israel’s policies of Occupation. I was therefore complicit in the war crimes committed by Israel in 1982, and, by extension, the war crimes and violence that were either exacerbated or which are extensions of those Israeli policies.

      The Israeli government is proud of having turned most Jews into accomplices in war crimes and human rights violations. Personally, I am very much ashamed of my own complicity.

      1. Dan webber

        Benjy…relax…you are not complicit …all this would have happened with or without you donation…your fellow Jews in Israel are just trying to stay in one peace,in a very bad neighborhood…sometimes a nation has to do what it has to do…did you feel complicit when America daisy cutters folks in viet nam and Afghanistan..or naplamed or agent oranges enemy’s ..or in Iraq killed 250.000 many or most civilians..or your dads America nuking my friend are holding Israel to a standard impossible to uphold…do you not see the Hamas dead baby strategy …or the hatred the world holds for the Jewish you really think that the Muslim world will ever accept a Jewish state in their midst?…look pal..I am not even Jewish and can see what’s really happening…why can’t you?

      2. Ben

        If we could all be as responsible and conscious as you Benjy, the world would be a much better place! Well done on your realisation. The world is connected more than ever before and our actions do have knock on effects.

  5. Matt

    Obviously Rabbi Rosen is a “self-hating Jew,” the epithet I see increasing hurled any Jew who demonstrates empathy for both Israeli and Palestinian victims of this conflict or dares express any criticism of Israel.for the human disaster now occurring, And yes, this self-hating Jew recognizes that if the disparity of military might were reversed, Hamas would likely show little restraint. We simply should be better than that.

    1. Steve

      There are no self hating Jews. There are Jews who are completely wrong like Brant Rosen. Since, he believes there shouldn’t be a Jewish State of Israel and is sympathetic to those who wish to destroy it, he should be divested from, boycotted and sanctioned. The sanctions should be loss of his job as a congregational Rabbi. Everyone has free speech. The market place has the free speech to react.

      1. Dan Solomon

        Hi Steve:

        First off I don’t agree with your oversimplified characterization of Rabbi Rosen’s point of view.

        Everybody wants a simple picture. They want to believe that their group, tribe, country, etc. is on the side of what’s right, good, and just and the opposition is always wrong, evil, and bad. That is human nature and it’s normal to feel that way. What Rabbi Rosen does is to complicate this simple picture for Jews regarding their feelings toward Israel.

        I have read this blog for a number of years. Sometimes I agree with his point of view and sometimes I disagree. However I always find his remarks well reasoned and challenging and consistent with Jewish values as reflected in the Torah and other scriptures. Therefore they should be considered a legitimate part of the discussion that takes place within the Jewish community.

      2. Benjamin Ben-Baruch

        Steve did not present a simplistic characterization of Rabbi Rosen’s views. He outright misrepresented them in a very pernicious way. Essentially Steve stated that anyone who strongly disagrees with the thrust of the Netanyahu government’s policies is, by definition someone who is opposed to the existence of both the Jewish people and the State of Israel and that Rabbi Rosen is th Dr e fore an enemy of both. Steve’s point of view is all too common in the Jewish and Christian Zionist communities.

  6. Frankinbun

    I wish this article could be seen on the mainstream media. Befor Israel was shoved down the throats of the thousands of Palestinians, Jews and Muslims were living together in peace.
    There’s room for everyone.

  7. Robert Oldershaw

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and with the people of Gaza and Israel who long for peace.

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  11. HenryCT

    It will be a short road to peace and justice when all rabbis sign such a statement. Until then the commandment, “Thou shalt steal,” remains the sole Constitutional imperative of Israel. Theft – of land, homes, gardens, farms, jobs, children – has lead to resistance and Israel opposes resistance with collective punishment. The Israeli state’s hatred for all things Palestinian results from the fact that Palestinians have not given up their claim to everything that has been stolen and continues to be stolen from them. They refuse to leave, they refuse to be cowed. Most importantly the US fully enables the theft and collective punishment. We who reside in the US have the historic responsibility to end that enablement.

  12. Ida Kolls

    Dear Rabbi Brant Rosen,
    I very much appreciate the openess of your blogs. I am neither Jewish nor Muslim but I am having a lot of problems with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian population, in particular during their recent attack against GAZA.
    The Israeli government leadership ought to know that they committed war crimes by letting the IDF bomb UN schools were they were advised of the coordinates (exact location and that they were used strictly to shelter refugee families)
    I realize that the IDF are under pressure to achieve their goals of neutralizing HAMAS however in my view it is criminal to disregard civilian human life.
    I am grateful for the statement from the Rabbinical Council protesting the military crackdown.

  13. Yaakov Sullivan

    Rabbi Rosen, know that there are many other Jews who identify with your views and are fully cognizant of the responses from other Jews and major Jewish organizations. Today it seems that anything is open to discussion when investigating what it means to be a Jew. But the one sacred cow that cannot be questioned and which must be accepted as the cardinal dogma is the acceptance of Zionism.. Zionism, as it has evolved and the policies of the State of Israel are in my view as a committed Jew, irreconcilable with the ethics and values of Judaism. Never before have I been so soulfully discouraged. Stands like yours encourage me.


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