Jewish Voice for Peace and Taanit Tzedek Call for One Day Fast in Solidarity with Khader Adnan

Posted 02/16/2012 - 15:19 by Rabbi Brian Walt

Call for One Day Fast in Solidarity with Khader Adanan

Jewish Voice for Peace and Ta’anit Tzedek: Jewish Fast for Gaza are calling for a one day fast (from sunrise to sunset) on Friday, February 17, 2012 in solidarity with Khader Adanan, who today is in his 61st day of a hunger strike.

Khader began his hunger strike on December 18th, 2011 after he was arrested in a nighttime Israeli military raid on his home in the West Bank village of Arraba. Since his arrest, Khader has been held in “administrative detention”--without trial or charges against him. It has been reported that he is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, but no evidence of that affiliation has been presented. Regardless of his political beliefs, administrative detention and the interrogations which sparked his hunger strike are entirely unacceptable according to international law.

His hunger strike is intended as a symbolic challenge to the Israeli government and military, as we learn from a letter from his prison cell in Israel’s Ramleh military hospital: “I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on.”

Khader, 33, is a father of two from the village of Arraba in the Jenin district. His wife is pregnant with their third child. Prior to his arrest, Adnan worked as a baker while studying for a master's degree in economics at the Bir Zeit University.

Khader is chained to his hospital bed by Israeli authorities. An Israeli military judge denied his appeal challenging his administrative detention, essentially sentencing him to death. Israel has ignored the pleas of numerous human rights agencies, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to either “charge or release” Adnan.

Khader Adnan is but one of thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons. According to a January 1, 2012 report by Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support organization, there are currently 4417 Palestinians held as political prisoners in Israel jails, 310 of whom are being held in administrative detention without trial or formal charge.

This Friday, the people of Bil'in, together with their Israeli and international supporters, will participate in a demonstration marking seven years of resistance to the Wall, settlements and Occupation. The gathering will be dedicated to Khader Adnan.

Jewish Voice for Peace and Ta’anit Tzedek stand with the people of Bil’in and all those who work tirelessly for peace with justice in Israel/Palestine. We are calling on all our friends and colleagues in this movement to join us in a one day fast this Friday in solidarity with Khader Adnan.

May his sacrifice not be in vain. May we all live to see the day in which human rights, civil rights and equality are enjoyed by all inhabitants of Israel/Palestine. May we work to make it so.

Israeli warships about to occupy Boats to Gaza! Urgent Action needed now!

Posted 11/04/2011 - 10:26 by Rabbi Brian Walt

This just received from U.S. Boat to Gaza


Boats to Gaza Stopped by Israeli Warships

November 4
At 7:43 am (east coast time) ground support crew lost contact with two ships, the Saoirse of Ireland and the Tahrir of Canada, carrying 27 civilian passengers, medical supplies and letters of support for the people of Gaza. On board the Tahrir is one American, Kit Kittredge.

At 7:30 am the Tahrir was interrogated, via radio, by the Israeli Navy. The ships were approximately 48 nautical miles off the coastline, well into international waters. Asked by the Israeli Navy for their destination, Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef replied, "The conscience of humanity." When they repeated the question, asking for final destination, Lotayef said, "The betterment of mankind."

Now is the time to act. Call the State Department and the White House and tell them to press the Israelis to ensure the safety of those aboard the two ships!

Call the State Department:

* Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 202-647-5291
* U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro 011-972-3-519-7575
* Office of Israel/Palestinian Affairs Paul Sutphin 202-647-3672
* Office of Consular Affairs, Kim Richter 202-647-8308

and the White House: 202-456-1414

We urge you to organize support actions in your area today. Send the information to our webmaster at - it will be posted immediately.

For those of you in the NYC area an emergency support vigil will take place from 5pm to 6:30pm today - Friday, November 4th across the street from the Israeli Consulate at 800 2nd Avenue between 42nd Street and 43rd Street. Denise Rickles, with Code Pink NYC, will be the point person for this support rally. She can be reached at

Please bring appropriate signs with you such as:

Understanding the Palestinian U.N. Initiative: A phone conference with Josh Ruebner

Posted 09/09/2011 - 10:43 by Rabbi Brian Walt

How do we understand the Palestinian U.N. initiative? How should the the international community and the U.S. respond to this initiative?

Should we support the initiative?

Will it advance the prospects for justice and peace for all?

Taanit Tzedek invites you to join in a phone conference with

Josh Ruebner

National Advocacy Director of the the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

who will speak on

Understanding the Palestinian U.N. Initiative

  • When: Thursday, September 22 at 12 noon (Eastern Time)
  • Call in number: 800-9207487
  • Code: 92247763#

Participants in the call are encouraged to read one or more of the following articles by Josh Ruebner:

Photo of Josh RuebnerJosh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of nearly 350 organizations working to end U.S. support for Israel’s illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, and to change U.S. policy toward Israel/ Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.

Ruebner is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, a federal government agency providing Members of Congress with policy analysis. He holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

Ruebner’s analysis and commentary on U.S. policy toward the Middle East appear frequently in media such as NBC, ABC Nightline, CSPAN, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Middle East Report, and more.

Talk by Nadia Hijab

Posted 04/28/2011 - 13:19 by Rabbi Brian Walt

The following is the text of a talk on given by Nadia Hijab at the National Gathering of Jewish Voice for Peace in Philadelphia in March 2011. Dr. Hijab will be the guest on the May conference call on "The Arab Spring, Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Talk at JVP National Gathering, March 13,2011
Nadia Hijab, Co-Director, Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, March 13, 2011

I want to talk about the messages from the Arab revolutions, how we can stay mobilized as a movement, and the opening for new relations between Jews and Arabs.

I know we’ve all been transfixed by the Arab revolutions, and I want to highlight a couple of messages beyond what they mean for our Israel-Palestine work.

The Arab revolutions are about the people of each country putting their house in order. They’re not being isolationist – look at how the Tunisians, with their own revolution still underway, rushed to help the Libyans. But if peoples do not put their own house in order, they can’t play a positive role outside their borders. And their governments find it easier to hijack their foreign policy.

Another powerful message the Arab revolutions are sending is that democracy is not just about elections every few years It’s also about making the links between political, economic and social rights – between bread, dignity, and freedom.

These messages from the Arab world – which is where I grew up and where I still feel I belong – tell me how incomplete democracy is in America. And one of the reasons it is incomplete is because the link between economic, political, and social rights keeps getting broken.

When people are struggling to survive the repeated disastrous recessions that sweep away their homes, jobs, services, and labor rights, how can they question the crimes their country is committing abroad? And how can they challenge the government they have at home, and the way it’s bailing out the banks of the rich with the tax money of the poor?

America needs to put its own house in order. We need an America that doesn’t just preach democracy abroad but practices it at home. We need an America that doesn’t project moral superiority and see itself as the world’s policeman in control of other countries’ strategic resources - but an America that deals with other countries as equals.

So the challenge for our movement is not just how we can mobilize to change American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also how we can change America. How do we do that? By laying a firm foundation on which we can build lasting structures for freedom, justice and equality.

The firmest foundation we could ever have is the one provided by the framework of human rights and international law. The problem is that very few people are familiar with these concepts, even though they’re not complex. I’m not a lawyer but because I’m passionate about human rights I’ve learned about some of the international laws dealing with the rights of women, with civil and political rights, and with economic, social and cultural rights.

The core concept that underpins human rights is very simple – human dignity. On yesterday’s plenary panel, Sara Roy said she’s been hearing that word – dignity – ever since she started working on Palestine. And you’ll hear that word used by the poor and excluded all over the world. That’s why principles of human rights are actually very easy to grasp: they’re universal values. And they’re not just a nice sounding set of principles – they’ve been translated into law and we can demand that governments apply those laws that they have signed on to.

It’s vital for any movement that wants to achieve lasting peace and justice – that doesn’t want to keep re-inventing the wheel - to invest just a little time in educating people about this international legal framework and its meaning for their lives. It doesn’t mean diluting or complicating our work – it just mean introducing a little extra education piece in our outreach. And I was very happy to see that JVP is setting out human rights goals in the TIIA-CREF campaign, eg the April campaign is about the right to education.

It’s difficult for governments to completely ignore the law forever. We’re in a strong moral position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because we want US politicians to just apply US law. For example, when Israel uses arms the US supplies outside its borders, it’s breaking US law. And when US-based charities are funding militias that kick Palestinians off their land, that breaks the law. These are powerful arguments that, when we persevere and when we grow our numbers, we can really hit home.

Our success depends on growing our numbers, not just by allying with other activists for a just peace in the Middle East, but also by allying with groups working for justice at home – for immigrant rights, fair housing, prison reform, jobs, and the right to unionize. And by making the links between our foreign and domestic policies. Such alliances will face our political leaders with a powerful force for change.

And, speaking of alliances, I’m so happy that we’re at a place today where it’s possible to nurture and proclaim alliances between Arabs and Jews. I really wanted to come to your member meeting because I’m so motivated by the work JVP does. I grew up as a Palestinian in exile in Lebanon. I didn’t know any Jews because the creation of Israel pushed most Arab Jews out of most Arab countries.

When I went to live and work as a journalist in London, I had no desire to meet Jews – most Arabs only see Jews through the prism of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. The fact that Israel projects itself as a Jewish state does enormous harm to the Jewish people, and that’s why I’m so glad that JVP exists to challenge that perception.

Here in the US, I got to know and work with some Jews – it’s very hard not to when you live in NY City! The Jews I first interacted with were liberal Zionists. They were very brave and there was a lot to admire, but it seemed to me that when it came to a question of Israel’s “security” vs. human rights – well, Israel trumped.

You can’t change people’s minds for them - everyone has to travel their own road. And I discovered other Jews, people who believed in justice and equality, in human rights for all human beings irrespective of who they are and where they come from. And I became close friends and a fellow human rights activist with people like Phyllis, and Josh and Amie and soon after with Rebecca, Sydney, Cecilie, and Lynn and so many others in the growing world of JVP.

As Ali Abunimah said yesterday we have a lot to thank Israel for! The sheer unremitting brutality of successive Israeli governments, the relentless greed that makes it impossible for Israel to do a deal with even the Palestinian leaders most willing to make concessions – these actions have made it impossible for a fast-growing number of people around the world, including Jews, to continue to support Israel and has pushed resistance through effective non-violent means like BDS.

What’s more Israel is now beginning to treat Jewish human rights activists – Israeli, European, and American – with the same ferocity it previously reserved for Palestinians. This has really sharpened the divide between those who stand on the side of freedom, justice and equality and those who don’t. And it’s made it possible to strengthen strategic alliances between Arabs and Jews, and to define a different future in the Middle East where all people are equal in rights whether in one state or two.

Our role here in the US is to change US policy towards the Middle East while changing America at home. But at the same time, by nurturing our own alliances grounded in the firm foundation of human rights and international law, we can show the world that a different future is possible in Palestine/Israel.

The Arab Spring, Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A conversation with Nadia Hijab

Posted 04/28/2011 - 10:16 by Rabbi Brian Walt

nadia100dpi.jpgHow will the extraordinary democratic uprisings across the Arab world affect the future of Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Taanit Tzedek invites you to join in a phone conference with

Nadia Hijab

Co-Director of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network

  • writer
  • public speaker
  • media commentator

who will speak on

The Arab Spring, Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • When: Thursday May 19 at 12 noon (Eastern Time)
  • Call in number: 800-9207487
  • Code: 92247763#

Nadia Hijab is Co-Director of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, and a writer, public speaker and media commentator. Her first book, Womanpower: The Arab debate on women at work was published by Cambridge University Press and she co-authored Citizens Apart: A Portrait of Palestinians in Israel (I. B. Tauris).

She was Editor-in-Chief of the London-based Middle East magazine before serving as a senior development officer at the United Nations in New York. In 2000 she established her own consulting business on human rights, human development, and gender. She has served as co-chair of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and is on its advisory board, and she is a past president of the Association of Arab American University Graduates.

Participants in the call are encouraged to read one or more of the following three articles by Hijab.

1. The Arab revolutions and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

2. Understanding Obama's Settlement Posture

3. The Palestinian Narrative: Then and Now

Call on the President to act boldly to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza now!

Posted 12/18/2010 - 21:11 by Sara Kominers

December 27 is the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead. Two years later, Israel still maintains a blockade on Gaza and Gazans are unable to repair their houses, businesses, and farms that were destroyed in the attack. They are denied freedom of movement and the freedom to engage in the import and export of goods. Consequently, most Gazans are dependent on foreign aid and many suffer food insecurity.

To mark the second anniversary, Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast for Gaza encourages you to write to President Obama and ask him to act boldly to end the Israeli blockade. We have drafted a letter to the President which we encourage you to send now. We also encourage you to forward this to your friends, family and colleagues urging them to join you in this effort.

In his 2009 Cairo speech, President Obama stated, “the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security... Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.”

Now is the time for us to call on the President to make these words a reality.

Thank You

Posted 12/15/2010 - 17:32 by Sara Kominers

Your letter has been sent to President Obama! Thank you for taking action to end the siege on Gaza!

Encourage your friends to take action as well by forwarding our email.

Please support the ongoing work of Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast for Gaza by making a tax deductible year end contribution now.

Operation Cast Lead: 2 Years Later A Conversation with Jared Malsin, American journalist in Gaza

Posted 12/09/2010 - 15:58 by Rabbi Brian Walt

Taanit Tzedek - Jewish Fast for Gaza

invites you to join a phone conversation on

Operation Cast Lead: Two Years Later


Jared Malsin

Young American Journalist reporting from Gaza, who was deported by Israel this year.

Thursday, December 16 at 12 noon EDT

To participate in the call: 

Dial the Access Number: 1.800.920.7487 

When prompted, enter your Participant Code: 92247763# 

There will be a question and answer period during the call.

This conference call is scheduled on the monthly fast day of Taanit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza. For more information and to join our fast, visit

Additional Information about Jared Malsin

A 2007 graduate of Yale University, Jared Malsin is a young, independent American journalist who has reported directly from Gaza since October. Prior to living in Gaza, Malsin, who is Jewish, spent two and a half years in Bethlehem working for Maan, a Palestinian news agency.

In January 2010, while returning from a vacation in Prague, the Israeli government detained him at the Tel Aviv airport after questioning him about his allegedly “anti-Israeli” political views, Palestinian contacts, and news articles authored “inside the territories” He spent a week in jail before he was deported to the US. His deportation was condemned by the head of the International Federation of Journalists as “an intolerable violation of press freedom.”

As an independent journalist Malsin has also contributed to The Electronic Intifada, Open Democracy, The Huffington Post, Mondowiess, The New Haven Register, and other publications. He has appeared on Al-Jazeera and as a speaker on college campuses.

He has written extensively about Gaza. You can read his articles here.

"… As a journalist your natural inclination is to give voice to people who don’t have a voice. There’s nothing like being on the ground and seeing what’s happening with your own eyes. You can read about the settlements and the wall. It’s another thing to be in Bethlehem, the city I lived in for two and a half years, and see how the wall cuts across the main road to Jerusalem and wraps around the gas station and then cuts between two house and through an olive field and has just completely mangled the city. Something about being there, and seeing it with your own eyes — there’s truth to it that you can’t argue with. The challenge is to get that across in reporting, in writing, in photography or whatever medium you’re working in."

Jared Malsin in interview with Christopher Lyden. Click here for complete interview.

“After the Elections: US Policy, Israel and Gaza” – A Conversation with Congressman Brian Baird.

Posted 11/10/2010 - 11:52 by Rabbi Brant Rosen

The next Ta'anit Tzedek fast day will take place this Thursday, November 18. To mark the day, we will present a conference call, "After the Elections: US Policy, Israel and Gaza" - A Conversation with Congressman Brian Baird. The call will begin at 12 noon Eastern Time.
Dial the Access Number: 1.800.920.7487
Participant Code: 92247763#

Congressman Baird is the outgoing Representative for Washington state's 3rd District. Prior to being elected in 1998, Congressman Baird practiced as a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington state and Oregon. He also worked in state and Veterans Administration psychiatric hospitals, community mental health clinics, substance abuse treatment programs, and institutions for juvenile offenders.

Congressman Baird is also notable for being one of the few members of Congress who is willing to openly advocate for Palestinian human rights. He has visited Gaza on three separate occasions and had this to say after his visit in February 2009 (immediately following Israel's Operation Cast Lead):

The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering... Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental water, sewer, and electricity facilities hit and relief agencies heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching – what went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.

After his third visit to Gaza in February 2010, Baird called on the US to break Israel's blockade of the strip to deliver humanitarian aid. He was also one of the few members of the House to vote against a bill that "unequivocally opposed any endorsement or further consideration" of the Goldstone Report. (Click here to watch his passionate defense of report on the House floor.)

Our conference call will take place on Thursday, November 18 at 12:00pm (EST). During our conversation, we will ask Congressman Baird to discuss his experiences in Gaza, to comment on current efforts to lift the blockade and to share his views on the search for a just peace in Israel/Palestine in light of the recent midterm elections.

Congressman Baird will also address the wrongful death trial, brought by Craig and Cindy Corrie against the Israeli government, for the death of their daughter Rachel (who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003). As the Corrie's congressman, Rep. Baird has long supported the Corrie family in their quest for justice and personally testified in the trial last May.

Here's the call-in info:

Dial the Access Number: 1.800.920.7487
Participant Code: 92247763#

As always, we encourage you to join the call and spread the word.

"What is at Stake in Gaza" Talk by Rabbi Brian Walt at United Nations Advocacy Week of the World Council of Churches

Posted 10/20/2010 - 10:30 by Rabbi Brian Walt

What is at stake in Gaza?

Posted by rabbibrian on October 19, 2010

Three weeks ago, I had the honor of participating as a Jewish observer at the United Nations Advocacy week of the World Council of Churches. This annual event meets in Geneva, Switzerland and focuses on issues of human rights, justice and peace in two different countries each year. This year the focus was on Israel/Palestine and Nigeria

I was invited as co-founder of Taanit Tzedek-Jewish Fast for Gaza to be part of a panel on “What is at stake in Gaza?” and to address this question from the perspective of participants in Taanit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza. You can read a report about the panel on the World Council of Churches website.

The following is the text of my talk:

World Council of Churches

What's at Stake in Gaza? A Taanit Tzedek/Jewish Perspective

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a Jewish observer at this sacred gathering. I was also honored to attend the launch of the Kairos document in Bethlehem in December 2009 and am so pleased to have this opportunity to be with you again today.

Our topic for today is "What's at stake in Gaza" and my task is to share a Jewish response to this question -- in particular from the point of view of Jews involved in Taanit Tzedek, the Jewish Fast for Gaza.

In July 2009, about six months after Operation Cast Lead ended, a group of 10 rabbis launched Taanit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza. As an expression of our moral concern about the devastating suffering of 1.5 million men, women and children in Gaza, drawing on an ancient Jewish tradition of calling a public fast in a time of moral emergency, we invited people of all faiths and people of conscience to join together to fast one day a month.

Our fast has three goals:

Break the Silence Lift the Siege Pursue Peace

1. Break the Silence:

We break the silence in America and in the American Jewish community in particular about the suffering in Gaza. We are committed to learning as much as possible about the reality in Gaza, from residents of Gaza, experts on Gaza and activists. We bring this information into our communities and suggest ways for our communities to respond by providing humanitarian aid and by public advocacy. We counter those in our community who justify the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and/or attempt to silence Jews and others who speak about the suffering in Gaza.

2. Lift the Siege:

We call upon Israel, the US, and the international community to engage in negotiations without preconditions with all relevant Palestinian parties - including Hamas - in order to end the illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza. The partial relaxation in the number of goods allowed into Gaza after the attack on the Mavi Mara at the end of May is only a token step in the right direction. Gaza is still an open air prison without the ability to import the resources they need for development and reconstruction. The people of Gaza deserve complete freedom of movement and freedom to export and import goods and services as guaranteed by international law. The siege is an illegal and immoral act of collective punishment and it must be lifted.

3. Pursue Peace:

We call on the Israeli government and the American government to pursue a negotiated peace between Israel and all relevant Palestinian partners, including Hamas to resolve the conflict. There is no military solution; a negotiated peace is the only solution to the conflict.

Over 1,000 people of all faiths and people of conscience have joined the fast, including over 80 rabbis and rabbinical students, over 40 Christian clergy and ten imams. What is at stake in Gaza from the perspective of the rabbis and Jews involved in Taanit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza is our direct and indirect responsibility for the suffering in Gaza. We have responsibility as Americans and as Jews. As Americans, it is our government — the American government — that has refused to talk to Hamas and that has made it possible for Israel to act with impunity. As Jews, it is the Israeli government - that claims to act in our name – that maintains Gaza as an open air prison. Lastly, it is leaders of major American Jewish organizations who justify Israeli policy and exert enormous pressure on the American government, on American Jews and on all Americans, not to challenge these immoral acts.

Israel has a right to security and rocket attacks on Israel should end. The rocket attacks, however, do not in any way justify the vicious assault on Gaza and the continuing illegal siege. We are ashamed of the shocking acts that were committed in our name during Operation Cast Lead and the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza as a result of the illegal siege. We stand in solidarity with the victims of this injustice.

On a deeper level, what is at stake for us, is no less than the moral core of our faith. The central belief of our faith is that every human being is created in the image of God and deserves justice and compassion. Our faith is based on our liberation from Egypt: You shall not oppress the stranger/ the “other”, for you know the heart of the “other” because you were the “other” in the land of Egypt. “Justice, Justice shall you pursue!” commands the Torah. How can our people who believe in the God of liberation and justice and who suffered so much in many different countries, impose collective punishment on 1.5 million people? Israeli government policy in Gaza and in the West Bank is a shocking betrayal of these very fundamental beliefs of our faith and our historical legacy as a people.

Our liberation as Jews is inextricably bound to justice for the people of Gaza. We, as Jews, will never be free, as long as Israel oppresses the people of Gaza. Our spiritual core and our very humanity is diminished by the denial of justice and basic human rights to Gazans.

Israel can no longer act with impunity. We fully support the courage of Judge Richard Goldstone, telling the truth at great cost to himself. We organized a phone conference call for over 150 rabbis with Judge Goldstone. While many rabbinic and Jewish communal leaders desecrated our faith by justifying the killing of 1400 Palestinians, Judge Richard Goldstone upheld the core of our faith by insisting that his commitment to human rights for all transcended any ethnic or tribal loyalty as a Jew. To do what is just and right is what being a Jew means. Judge Goldstone understood this and to us he is a moral hero. The vicious vilification of him in Israel and the American Jewish community is profoundly disturbing.

The residents of Gaza are largely refugees and the children and grandchildren of refugees from the 1948 war. For Jews, the creation of the State of Israel after the Holocaust was a liberation, for the Palestinians it was a disaster. Gaza reminds us again that the roots of the Israeli Palestinian conflict lie in 1948 and not in the Occupation that began 1967. Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation is dependent on Israel’s acknowledgment of its responsibility for the dispossession of the Palestinian people. The occupation of the West Bank and the control over Gaza are a continuation of the dispossession in 1948.

One of the programs of Taanit Tzedek is to sponsor a phone conference on our monthly fast day, the third Thursday, for fast participants and others who are interested. Recently our guest was Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, the Israeli human rights group dedicated to protecting the right to freedom of movement. Bashi explained that in Gaza Israel imposes maximum control with minimum responsibility by Israel for the fate of the inhabitants. She suggested that this was what Israel planned to do on the West Bank as well. Israel may agree eventually to a Palestinian state but it would resemble Gaza. Israel would control the air, the electromagnetic fields, the water and would control movement just as it does in Gaza.

This is a recipe for continued conflict. Palestinians deserve justice and Israelis deserve not to live in a garrison state, fearing for their security. The only path to ensure security for Israel is through a negotiated settlement. A negotiated settlement that begins the long process of breaking down the years of mistrust, injustice, suspicion and violence, is the only path that offers hope for all.

In the American Jewish community Taanit Tzedek is only one very small example of an important change in the Jewish community in relation to Israel policy. The eighty rabbis who have joined our effort have all taken a risk for justice and many more support us privately. Especially since the Israeli attack on Gaza, many more liberal Jews are disturbed by Israeli policy. American Jews who have been very liberal on all issues except the issue of Israel, are beginning to apply their liberal values to Israeli policy as well. Younger Jews, horrified by Israeli policy, and are making their their voice heard and to take actions in solidarity with the struggle for justice for the Palestinians.

Peter Beinart, who supported the Iraq war, and was the editor of New Republic, wrote an article on “The Failure of the Jewish Establishment” that has stimulated much important debate in the Jewish community. Beinart pointed out that the major American Jewish organizations had asked young Jews to leave their liberal values at the door and to their surprise, young Jews have left their Zionism at the door. Many young Jews are involved in Jewish Voice for Peace, in J Street and other organizations and in the B.D.S movement. The emergence of J Street, a pro-Israel and pro-peace as a counter to the Israel lobby, is another indication of the important change in the American Jewish community. There is a growing number of excellent blogs of American Jews and Israelis that deal with these issues that are still rarely covered in the mainstream press.

The power of the Israel lobby is still enormous but the opposition to the lobby is growing within America in general and within the American Jewish community. While this is a very hopeful development, it is not at all clear when this development will be significant enough to have a direct impact in providing justice for the victims.

While Taanit Tzedek was initiated by rabbis, it is an interfaith project. We need to work together, Jews, Chritians and Muslims, as people of faith for a just solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. This interfaith partnership for justice models a world where people of different faiths and nationalities can work together for the common good.

Lastly I want to offer a teaching of hope. Today is the seventh day of Sukkot/The Feast of Tabernacles, the Jewish harvest festival. Jews spend these seven days eating and some even live in a sukkah/a hut that is open to the sky. The sukkah reminds us of our blessings and that we are most secure when we are open to other human beings and to nature.

The sukkah is the opposite of huge walls, checkpoints, limits on freedom of movement that characterise Gaza and the West Bank. Sukkot teaches that true security comes from openness to others and to nature, accepting our vulnerability and relying on God’s protection. We pray: Ufros aleynu sukkat shlomecha/ Spread over us the sukkah of your peace.

Jews, Muslims and Christians need to build a sukkah of peace together. Israelis and Palestinians need a sukkah of peace built from difficult direct negotiation, by knowing one another as human beings, and by creating a peace settlement that provides justice for Palestinians, security for Israel and for all who live on the land. The prophet Isaiah teaches the justice results in peace. It is only through justice that there will be peace, a peace that will end Palestinian suffering, a peace that will end Israeli fear and insecurity, a peace that will give our people, the Jewish people, security and will allow us to return to the core spiritual teachings of our faith.

May God spread over us a sukkah of peace and may God bless all of you and all around the world who are working to build that sukkah. Blessed is the One who works through us to spread a sukkah of peace, over us and over all who live in Jerusalem, and all who live in our world.

Syndicate content