JVP calls on Jewish community leaders to stand up for justice in Gaza
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JEWS DEMAND LEADERSHIP TO END BLOCKADE OF GAZA
Members of Jewish Voice for Peace call for Jewish leaders to stand up for Justice in Palestine, end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine
New York, NY (August 20, 2014)—A group of 30 members of Jewish Voice for Peace visited the UJA-Federation of New York offices on Wednesday to demand that the institutional Jewish leadership take a public stand for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the blockade of Gaza that makes life unbearable for Palestinian residents. Activists delivered a petition signed by over 30,000 concerned members and supporters of Jewish Voice for Peace calling on Federation President Jerry Silverman to make a public statement in support of ending the siege of Gaza. Following JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson’s personal delivery of the petition to Federation staff, JVP members staged a street performance illustrating how the blockade operates. Dressed in all black, some participants stood close together in a line to simulate the blockade, while others pretended to be food, medical supplies, building supplies, and other restricted items attempting to break through.
Prior to the action, a representative of Federation’s strategic communications team rejected JVP’s request to meet with Federation President Jerry Silverman, telling JVP activists by email that, “Your ongoing support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel render any kind of direct communication, beyond this email, impossible. If you alter those tactics, accept Israel as a Jewish State and explicitly condemned BDS we would be open to arranging a meeting.” The Jewish Federation effectively excluded conversation with a group of fellow Jews who support the nonviolent tactics of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to pressure Israel to end its unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.
JVP member Carolyn Klaasen explained, “In delivering this petition we represent a growing number of Jews committed to speaking out against injustices perpetrated by the State of Israel against Palestinians. We demand that Jewish leaders take a public stand not just to negotiate a long term ceasefire in Gaza, but for an end to the underlying conditions of siege that make life unsustainable for Palestinians in Gaza.”
Jewish Voice for Peace activists are hand delivering this petition to the Jewish institutional leadership in a coordinated effort across the country. The petition is addressed to Mr. Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America; and to Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center; and Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. This is the text (also available online at http://bit.ly/1trTeTT):
Dear Mr. Silverman, Rabbi Saperstein, and Rabbi Gutow,
In the last 22 days, the Israeli army has killed more than 1,200 people in Gaza. There is nowhere safe for people to take refuge. Hospitals, schools, beaches, playgrounds - even UN shelters have been attacked. The entire world has reacted with horror and outrage.
Your support for Israel as it destroys so many lives is all the more painful given your positions of leadership in the Jewish community. Your decision to stand with the oppressor rather than the oppressed is a betrayal of our history and values, when authentic moral leadership is more important than ever.
In the spirit of tochecha, sacred rebuke, we urge you to take a public stand not just for an immediate ceasefire, but for an end to the underlying conditions of siege that makes life unbearable for Palestinians in Gaza.
The Jewish Federation, which claims to speak for all Jews, continues to silence the ever growing numbers of Jewish Americans that do not support the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today's petition delivery and street theater at the UJA-Federation of New York office is one in a series of similar actions around the country in which American Jews are calling for an end to the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, an end to the blockade of Gaza, and an end to the Occupation of Palestinian territories. The urgency of the ongoing violence and destruction demands that the institutional Jewish leadership take a stand for human rights and justice.
Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org) is a national, grassroots organization dedicated to achieving a just and lasting peace that recognizes the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 175,000 online supporters, over 40 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Cabinet, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.