Jewish Voice for Peace: Open Letter

Years ago, leading Jewish and human rights groups like the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center played critical roles in promoting the idea of universal rights. But tragically, this legacy has been crumbling for some time. Today, it is in danger of disappearing altogether. Israel is becoming more and more like a police state each day, while these leaders say nothing.

Ask American Jewish leaders to denounce Israel’s increasing violations of human rights, dignity, and democratic values such as midnight raids on activists, media gag orders, crushing nonviolent protest, and silencing NGO’s.

——–

An Open Letter to the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Dear Abe Foxman, David Harris, and Rabbi Marvin Hier:

As leaders of major Jewish organizations that defend human rights, democratic values and civil rights for all, you have rightly and vigorously condemned repression where it occurs around the world.

That’s why your silence as Israel becomes more and more repressive each day deeply concerns us.

As Israel uses anti-democratic tactics against Palestinians and increasingly, its own citizens, what will you do to stop it?

Will you remain quiet while Israel rounds up its own citizens like Dr. Omar Said and Ameer Makhoul(1), who was arrested in the middle of the night in front of his children, held without charges, denied a lawyer for 12 days, tortured, and then disappeared under a strict media gag order which was partially lifted after widespread protest?

Will you say nothing about the arrests of Palestinian nonviolent leaders like Omar Alaaeddin(2) and Abdallah Abu Rahmah(3); the lethal shooting with tear gas canisters of people like Bassem Abu Rahmah(4); the incarceration of Israeli Jewish nonviolent leaders like Ezra Nawi(5); and harassment of the members of Israeli peace groups like New Profile(6)?

Will you stand by and allow legislation(7) to criminalize the human rights organizations that are the best representatives of Israeli democracy?

We call on you to speak out against the repression of the civil and democratic rights of Palestinians and Israelis. We ask you to call for an end to the crackdown on nonviolent human rights activists and organizations, both in Israel and in the Occupied Territories.

We are Jews and Muslims, Americans and Israelis, Christians and atheists, parents and grandparents. We are united by our belief that all people deserve equality and freedom. And like you, we each have a personal stake in a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians.

We ask you to heed the words of Elie Wiesel who said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

We are waiting.

(1) Ameer Makhoul is the director of “Ittijah,” the network of Arab NGOs in Israel, and a human rights activist. Were a civil society leader representing a minority group in a democratic state to be arrested and tortured by his own government in any other state, we would count on our Jewish organizations to protest.
http://www.adalah.org/eng/pressreleases/pr.php?file=27_05_10
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-arab-activist-spied-on-idf-bases-for-hezbollah-1.292517

(2) Omar Alaaedine’s arrest and torture. http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/03/torture-man-for-organizing-demos/

(3) Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s Letter From Ofer Jail. http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/02/abdallah-abu-rahmahs-letter-from-ofer-jail/

(4) Bassem Abu Rahmah’s shooting. http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/04/remembering-bassem-pheel-abu-rahma/

(5) Ezra Nawi’s Website. http://freezra.org

(6) New Profile’s letter about their harrassment. http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/02/letter-from-new-profile/

(7) Adalah on the proposed legislation to restrict NGO’s. http://www.adalah.org/eng/pressreleases/pr.php?file=29_04_10_2

Jewish Voice for Peace | 1611 Telegraph Ave, Suite 550, Oakland, CA 94612 | 510.465.1777 | info@jewishvoiceforpeace.org –    http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/p/dia/action/public/

2 thoughts on “Jewish Voice for Peace: Open Letter

  1. kruitvat Post author

    Thank you for sending a message telling Jewish leaders to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights and dignity. If you haven’t already, please consider asking your friends, family and colleagues to join you. You can do this here.

    If you want to read about the increasing repression against civil disobedience in Israel and Palestine, a good place to start is here: theonlydemocracy.org

    You may also want to read the following piece by Peter Beinart: Hateful Ground Zero Hypocrisy, which connects the dots between the ADL’s positions in the US and on Israel.

    In gratitude,

    Sydney Levy
    Jewish Voice for Peace

    Reply
  2. kruitvat Post author

    Tell our Jewish Leaders:
    Denounce Israel’s Increasing Oppression

    Dear Jan,

    The plan to build a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan has predictably brought out a fresh wave of Islamophobia and calls to move the mosque elsewhere. Sadly, some of the Jewish organizations that are supposed to oppose bigotry have placed themselves on the wrong side of the issue.

    The American Jewish Committee, tasked with promoting democratic and pluralistic societies, has given its conditional approval for the building the mosque as planned, but only after equating Islam with terrorism.(1) The Anti-Defamation League–tasked with fighting anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism–has called for the Manhattan mosque to be moved to a different location.(2) The Simon Wiesenthal Center, tasked with confronting bigotry and racism, also opposes the building of the mosque in its location.(3) Meanwhile it continues to build a Museum of Tolerance on top of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.(4)

    They are failing us in Manhattan. They are failing us in Jerusalem.

    Jewish-American political writer Peter Beinart looked at the ADL’s opposition to the mosque and connected the dots: “Indifference to the rights and dignity of Palestinians is a cancer eating away at the moral pretensions of the American Jewish establishment. Last Friday, in the case of the ADL, we learned just how far that cancer has spread.”(5)

    In their public statements, the ADL and the AJC have counted the many ways they’ve come in defense of Muslims, be they in the US, Bosnia, Germany, France-everywhere except Israel and Palestine. They are unlikely to speak out if the Israeli Army follows through on plans to demolish a mosque in Jenin in the Occupied West Bank.(6)

    Please sign our open letter to the leaders of the Anti Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, and Simon Wiesenthal Center, asking them to denounce Israel’s increasing violations of human rights, dignity, and democratic values, including midnight raids on activists, media gag orders, crushing nonviolent protest, and silencing NGO’s.(7)

    These American Jewish leaders are too often on the wrong side of issues and betray our Jewish values of truth and justice. Their blind support for Israel’s government is leading them to engage in Islamophobia and support injustices, both here and abroad. We deserve better.

    Thanks,

    Sydney Levy
    Jewish Voice for Peace

    (1) American Jewish Committee Opposes Mosque Too, Aug 3, 2010 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/american-jewish-committee_b_669424.html), Build the Cordoba Center? Aug 2, 2010 (http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=6154567&ct=8552121&notoc=1)
    (2) The Mosque at Ground Zero, Aug 2, 2010 (http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Interfaith/Mosque_Ground_Zero.htm)
    (3) Call to the SWC, Aug 4, 2010.
    (4) Petition to Save Palestinians’ Mamilla Cemetery from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s plans to Build over It (http://www.juancole.com/2010/03/petition-to-save-palestinians-mamilla.html)
    (5) Hateful Ground Zero Hypocrisy, Aug 2, 2010 (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-08-02/the-anti-defamation-leagues-ground-zero-mosque-hypocrisy/full/)
    (6) IOF gives demolition notices to a mosque and houses in Jenin, Jul 31, 2010 (http://www.globalpost.com/webblog/israel-and-palestine/iof-gives-demolition-notices-mosque-and-houses-jenin)
    (7) Take for example the case of Ameer Makhoul, a prominent Palestinian Israeli human rights defender, who was arrested in the middle of the night in front of his children, held without charges, denied a lawyer for 12 days, tortured, and then disappeared under a strict media gag order which was partially lifted after widespread protest. You can read more about his case in a letter we sent to the State Department last week (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11431.shtml). Many other cases are documented here: http://theonlydemocracy.org/ for details.

    Reply

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