“We Shall Not Be a Party to Their Counsel!”
As human beings, we are shocked and appalled at the mass destruction unleashed by the State of Israel against the people of Gaza in its military operation, following years of Israeli occupation, siege, and deprivation.
As Americans, we protest the carte blanche given Israel by the US government to pursue a war of “national honor,” “restoring deterrence,” “destroying Hamas,” and “searing Israel’s military might into the consciousness of the Gazans.”
As progressives, we reject the same justifications for the carnage that we heard ad nauseam from the supporters of the Second Iraq War: the so-called “war on terror,” the “clash of civilizations,” the “need to re-establish deterrence” – all of which served to justify a misguided and unnecessary war, with disastrous consequences for America and Iraq.
But as Jews of different religious persuasions, from Orthodox to secular atheist, we are especially horrified that a state that purports to speak in our name wages a military campaign that has killed over 1,400 people, a large percentage of them civilians, children, and non-combatants, with little or no consideration for human rights or the laws of war.
While the moral and legal issue concerning Israel’s right to respond militarily in these circumstance can be debated, there is near-universal agreement that its conduct of the military operation has been unjust and even criminal – with only the usual apologists for the Jewish state disagreeing.
As Jews, we stand united with another Israel, the patriarch Jacob, who cursed his sons Simeon and Levi for massacring the people of Shechem in revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah. Like Jacob, “we shall not be a party to the counsel of zealots. We shall not be counted in their assembly. (See Genesis 34. 49: 5-7).
As Jews, we stand united with the Jewish sages who rejected the zealotry of the Jewish “terrorists” at Masada, those who masked ethnic tribalism in the cloak of “self-defense” and “national honor.”
As Jews, we listen not only when the sage Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” but also when he says, “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Hillel’s closing words also ring true in this hour of decision when a full resolution of conflict is demanded of both sides: “If not now, when?”
Finally, as American Jewish progressives, and as human beings, we condemn Hamas and Israel for violating the human rights of civilians on both sides, although we do not necessarily declare these violations to be morally or legally equivalent. We affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense, as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Sign the statement
Support the statement
Signers (affiliation for identification purposes only):
|Rabbi Leonard Beerman
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Rebecca Lillian
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak
Rabbi Efraim Ben-Yakir
Cantor Michael Davis
Cantor Richard Schwartz
Tony Judt, NYU
Howard Zinn, Boston Univ.
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Brian Leiter, Wilson Professor of Law, Univ. of Chicago
Daniel Boyarin, UC Berkeley
Shaul Magid, Indiana University
Irena Klepfisz, Barnard College
Adam Rubin, HUC-JIR (Los Angeles)
Mark Le Vine, UC Irvine
Daniel Garber, Princeton, Philosophy dept. chair
Ned Block, Silver Professor, NYU
Gideon Rosen, Princeton
Matthew Noah Smith, Yale
Aryeh Cohen, PhD, American Jewish University
Ilya Kliger, New York University
Aaron Greenberg, Univ. of Chicago
Murray Polner, former editor, Present Tense
Jerome Slater, SUNY Buffalo
Joanne Yaron, World Meretz
Chana Bloch, Mills College
Marilyn Hacker, CCNY
Rita Karuna Cahn, UC San Francisco
Nance Goldstein, University of Southern Maine
Gordon Fellman, Brandeis Univ.
Harry Mairson, Brandeis University
David L. Green, University of Illinois
Stephanie Sieburth, Duke
Priscilla Wald, Duke
E. James Lieberman, M.D., George Washington University School of Medicine
Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland
David Auerbach, Univ. of N. Carolina, Raleigh
Joseph Levine, Univ. of Mass., Amherst
Shari Stone-Mediatori, Ohio Wesleyan Univ.
Ido Roll, Carnegie Mellon Univ.
Philip Wadler, University of Edinburgh
Assaf Oron, Univ. of Wash.
Clare Solomon, Washington Univ.
Judith Norman, Trinity Univ.
Steven Bell, Berry College
Charles Manekin, Univ. of Maryland
Yale Strom, UC San Diego
Aaron J. Lercher, Louisiana State University
Ira Glunts, Morrisville State College
Merle Bachman, Spalding University
Arnold Wechsler & Toni Dalton
Miriam Simos (Starhawk)
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss
Dan Fleshler, Realistic Dove
Dan Sieradski, Orthodox Anarchist
Steven R. Shalom, William Paterson University
Eric M. Fink, Elon University School of Law
Bram Hubbell, Friends Seminary
Ilana Abramovitch, Ph.D.
Carole Edelsky, PhD
Steven R. Edelstein
David M. Ellis Ph.D
Anita E. Feldman
Sarah Bendiner Fenner
Dr. Chris Fox
Stephen Saperstein Frug
Sherrl Grosse Yanowitz Rogall
Tony & Hillary Hamburger
Lawrence R. Hamilton
Paul J Heckler
Dr. Annette Herskovits
Hanna J. Hoffman, PhD
Barbara S. Kane, PhD, LCSW
Rebecca S. Krantz, PhD
Sheldon H. Laskin
Oded Adomi Leshem
John F. Levin
Marsha C. Manekin
Yitzhak Y Melamed
Sarah Anne Minkin
Leonard Bruce Novick
Dr. Stephen Oren
Dr. Betty Potash
Linda Siegel Sang
Karl Schaffer, PhD
Jessica Shalom Greenberg
Dr Peter Sheridan
Brian S Sherman
Esther P. Simon
Louisa Rachel Solomon
Nicole Witte Solomon
Dr. Wendy Elisheva Somerson
Lois & Cy Swartz
Amir & Roni Terkel
Janis G. White
Rachel Farrell Wofsy
Bruce Wolman, MD
Michael J. Zigmond
emman chehade randazzo says
Impressive Richard I’m posting this on my FB page, thank you.
THANK GOD Jewish communities around the world are at last coming to their senses! Killing unarmed civilians, men, women and children with missiles, bombs, chemical phosphorus or a bullet through the head is a criminal act – A WAR CRIME. No amount of propaganda from the Israeli embassy will alter that fact. These atrocities are not done in the name of ordinary Jews and we condemn these acts. Judaism expressly forbids such terrible killings. Please use your voice to get President Obama to STOP THE SALE OF ARMS TO THE MIDDLE EAST NOW – tanks, planes, cluster bombs, white phosphorus and spare parts. Let this inhumane shameful behaviour cease – use your voice!
Futjal Kardichi says
I think you need to get into politics.
Richard Witty says
“We affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense, as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This is the most important and most potentially effective (and divisive among the progressive community) in the whole statement.
Jerry Haber says
Just curious — as the co-author of the statement (with Richard) — I wonder why you find that part of the statement “divisive.” Because it says that the Palestinians, like the Israelis, have the right to self-defense? Shouldn’t that be clear and obvious? Does any nation not have a right to self-defense, especially a nation that has been quite literally defenceless — or at the mercy of the Arab governments — for over 60 years?
You know, the criticisms I have received about the document are from those who say that we went too easy on Israel, and that we did not take a stand against Israel’s going to war in the first place. That is true; we did not. We thought we should focus on Israel’s conduct of the war.
But if you want to know what we feel about the whole business, then read Henry Siegman’s piece, or Richard’s synopsis. Henry is quite correct, in my opinion
I posted this on the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus site
sarah berger says
I am a Jew, I am not a Zionist. No one in my entire family stands with the zionist leadership of Israel. Bibi will be Israels demise.
Karin Friedemann says
I affirm the right of every Jew to get the hell out of Palestinian lands and get back to where they came from.
Jerry Haber says
What happens if they came from Israel? You think that all of the Israelis weren’t born in Israel? Most of them were born there. Many of their parents and even grandparents were born there.
Edward Said (a well-known Palestinian) did not believe in uprooting Israeli Jews from Palestine. He said that that would be fighting injustice with injustice.
Salman Abu Sitta (a well-known Palestinian) called for Israel to resettle all the Palestinian refugees. Even he didn’t call for transfer of Israeli Jews from Palestine.
Glen Miller says
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. Most Israelis were NOT born in Israel. And most have NO ancestry in the Holy Land.
It is true, however, that those Jews who lived in the Holy Land prior to 1948 ought to be allowed to remain there — as long as it is in and on their own property, not stolen property.
Richard Silverstein says
How much exactly do you know about Israel? Not much apparently. The vast majority of Israeli Jews WERE born in Israel.
Emma Goldblatt says
It’s time Jews assimilate like everyone else. Diversity is strength. They can no longer live as separate people. They must meld with all others and shed their Jewishness and culture for the greater good.
Richard Silverstein says
What a load of hogwash!
non jewish americans need to stand up to our lunatic fringe of “Evangelicals”, and muslim americans must stand up to “militant Islam” it is good to see jewish americans stand up to “radical jewish extremism”. Now we should all join together to help make our country and the world free of religious insanity.
Arabs are not the enemies of Jews, nor Jews are the enemies of Arabs, they both however have two common enemies, Zionism anmd fundamentalism.
I totally agree with you….
Jacqui W. says
It seems like making a statement against Israeli actions is a courageous move but in what way are you risking anything? Living in the US, safely and out of harm, you make statements without living in the fire zone. War is ugly in every manifestation but hopefully you believe there are things worth fighting for…I do. We need less arrogance and more understanding.
Richard Silverstein says
Yes I do, which is why I write this blog. I’m fighting for Middle East peace. That’s what I believe in. And contrary to what you claim I’ve devoted my life to this. And where do you who don’t live in Israel get off telling me whether I have a right to participate in the Jewish debate over what Israel should be? Thanks, but keep your advice to yrself.
Palestine must not be divided, but it must be shared by all its inhabitants irrespective of their religion or creed, there is enough in Palestine to meet everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed’s, the Zionists are fighting for their greed’s, and the Palestinians for their needs, when the Zionists stop fighting for their greed’s and the Palestinians get their rights and needs, then and only then can peace be achieved
rodney spinks says
jewish people have a right to settle in a place they can call their own after we have seen what 1 maniac hitler done to them but why did they let him get away with it,german people are as much to blame, human decency was totaly missing & War is a horrible state to be in so Jews & arabs Stop It & live in Peace Together or perish