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.
(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
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