“We oppose the privileging of Jewish lives over other lives”
"We oppose the privileging of Jewish lives over other lives"
Israelis call on Americans to join them in opposing the ongoing bloodshed
My name is Eran Efrati, I am Jewish, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, and a 7th generation Jerusalemite.
What I've seen in Israel over the last few weeks is beyond anything I have witnessed in my life:
· -Like you, I’ve seen the climbing death toll in Gaza, over 192 dead and some 1,485 injured–all by Israeli missiles, with no end in sight. At least 75% of those killed have been civilians and as many as 36 have been children.
· -I've seen soldiers lined up at the Gaza border, ready at a moment's notice to invade.
· -I've seen terrified Palestinian children in Hebron and Halhul, sitting on the ruins of their homes.
· -I’ve heard from friends in Tel Aviv who were violently attacked by right-wing Israeli Jews at a rally to protest the ongoing assault on Gaza.
The climate here in Jerusalem reveals a level of hatred and racism in Israeli society that goes beyond calls from isolated extremists for revenge and violence against Palestinians. The racist and violent language is coming directly from our elected leaders, and is being repeated in mainstream Israeli media. Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked posted a genocidal call on her Facebook page, asserting, “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and calling for its destruction “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” The post garnered more than 5,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
· -I've seen mobs in the street chanting "death to Arabs" and pulling out Palestinian men from their stores to beat them as other Israelis stood idly by.
· -In the last few days, I’ve seen Jewish fascist mobs mobilize to attack Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
This racism and violence is not the work of a small number of extremists, but the result of a system of institutionalized racism, a state-orchestrated campaign to dehumanize the enemy, and a long-standing, brutal military occupation.
As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think I can do a lot about it. But I believe you can.
I'm asking you as an Israeli--we need you to tell Israeli leaders you won't accept racism, you won't accept human rights violations, you won't accept occupation and the killing of civilians.
We need you to tell us - Israeli politicians, the Israeli media, Israeli society - that you can't support this. That you can't support human rights violations. That you can't support racism. That you won't support the idea that Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives.
Join me and sign this Open Letter now—if they get another 10,000 signatures, Jewish Voice for Peace will take out ads in Haaretz and the Jewish Forward with our message.
We know the roots of this are long and deep. But the truth behind this latest assault has finally coming: as J.J. Goldberg documented in The Forward, the Israeli government lied, and created this situation.
For weeks, the government knew that the three kidnapped teenagers were dead. But they instituted a gag order on the media, lied to Israelis and the world, and falsely claimed the mass arrests and collective punishment of Palestinians was all in the hopes of finding the teenagers alive.
In other words, their chosen response was to kidnap the mind of an entire country.
From the very beginning, this has been about punishing Palestinians. From the beginning, the government has been willing to manipulate and use its own people for that goal.
Overhead, I hear airplanes headed to Gaza all day long, and I know there's nothing I can do to stop them. And now we all know the lengths they've gone to justify this attack, and how fully Israeli society has bought into it. And I don't think we can stop it from within. But I think you can.
American voices - and especially Jewish American ones - are probably the most critical voices in the world right now. Please join me in speaking up.
Eran Efrati served as a combat soldier and company sergeant in Battalion 50 of the Nachal Division of the Israeli Defense Forces. After the army he worked with the Israeli organization Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers working to raise awareness about the daily reality in the Occupied Territory. His investigative reports have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.