I wanted to give my readers some opportunities to express their disgust with Israel’s massive and disproportionate assault on Gaza. J Street has begun a petition campaign calling for the U.S. government to intervene and stop the violence. Their statement reads in part:
At this moment of extreme crisis, J Street wants to demonstrate that, among those who care about Israel and its security, there is a constituency for sanity and moderation. There are many who recognize elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide and who know that closing it requires strong American engagement and leadership.
Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong. While there is nothing “right” in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing “right” in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them.
And there is nothing to be gained from debating which injustice is greater or came first. What’s needed now is immediate action to stop the violence before it spirals out of control.
The United States, the Quartet, and the world community must not wait – as they did in the Israel-Lebanon crisis of 2006 – for weeks to pass and hundreds or thousands more to die before intervening. There needs to be an urgent end to the new hostilities that brings a complete end to military operations, including an end to the rocket fire out of Gaza, and that allows food, fuel and other civilian necessities into Gaza.
…Following a renegotiated ceasefire, we urge the incoming Obama administration to lead an early and serious effort to achieve a comprehensive diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.
Jewish Voice for Peace is also coordinating opposition to the Gaza violence. Their statement provides e mail addresses and links to make your views known to U.S. government officials:
JVP is working now to develop a multi-faceted and long-term response to the attacks on and strangulation of Gaza. We will let you know soon how you can be a part of this. But in this moment, especially for those of you who live in the United States:
1. The US Campaign to End the Occupation has a list of street actions taking place around the US now.
2. Contact the US White House to protest the attack and demand an immediate cease-fire. Call 202-456-1111 or send an email to email@example.com.
3. Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575
4. Contact your Representative and Senators in Congress at 202-224-3121
5. Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor.
Some of my readers have commented that some of these statements don’t go far enough in stating Israeli complicity and that they blame Hamas as if it is an equal culprit in the violence. I want to make clear that my own position is slightly different than J Street’s. But the key point for me is that Jewish progressives need a voice that can effectively protest at the highest political levels of our government. As far as I’m concerned, J Street can do that which is why I support their work.
There is also room for other Jewish organizational responses and I will circulate those as well as I find them. That is why I’ve also included JVP here.
One Israeli group which deserves criticism for its position on the violence is Meretz. Chaim Oron made this statement which I find tortuous and hopelessly morally and politically compromised:
I would like also to point out that at this point in time, we are obligated to act with caution. Things that appear to us as obvious, are not understood the same way by many people – and not only by the general public, but also among our most loyal supporters and friends — left wingers and human rights supporters, and those who are stuck in their homes as missile attacks continue. When we make a public statement, we must think if [sic] these people, as well as of our obligation to oppose a military escalation when it is unnecessary and is harming innocent people on both sides.
In conclusion, below is the official statement of the New Movement-Meretz Party on this subject:
“At this stage, following the IDF’s action in the Gaza strip, Israel’s primary interest should now be to renew the ceasefire agreement as quickly as possible. The safety of Israeli citizens who live in the vicinity of Gaza and the safety of the kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, demand maximum caution when considering a further large scale operation, particularly a ground invasion, which means sinking in the Gazan mud, in comparison to which, the Lebanese mud is shallow.”
M.K. Haim Oron (Jumas),
Chairman, The New Movement-Meretz Party
I resent the implication that a truly principled opposition to the Gaza invasion would mean ignoring or disrespecting the suffering of Sderot. In fact, the restoration of a ceasefire that bound Israel to ending its siege of Gaza and bound Hamas to restore calm would show the ultimate respect to Sderot because it would end its suffering. Oron’s statement shows how hopelessly muddled the Israeli left has become.
It is times like these that test a Zionist’s soul. And Meretz is found wanting as it was during the Lebanon invasion. Unfortunately, we have no principled Israeli left opposition except Hadash, whose overall agenda some find problematic. It is a sad time for many more reasons than one.