The JRC Board of Directors has endorsed the following statement written by the Israel-Palestine working group. JRC is home to a broad range of opinions, beliefs, and political alignments. We worked together to find our commonalities and create a statement that expresses our shared Jewish values and promotes peace during this crisis. Our process was not easy, but it was all done with great respect, honesty, and willingness to share strong emotions.
We started with identifying our areas of agreement. Our first agreements are included in our guiding principles, and include recognizing our congregation’s wide tent of various connections to and opinions regarding Israel-Palestine; valuing human rights, tikkun olam, and shalom; and the importance of respectful dialogue regarding these issues. We acknowledged that we all hold more than one thing at a time: grief and joy, anger and acceptance, care for ourselves and others, attachment to the Jewish people, and recognition that we are all made in God’s image. No one statement can capture all that we think and feel about Israel-Palestine at this moment.
There is much we are still discussing, and:
- We are committed to the Jewish people
- Our Jewish values call on us to speak up for the dignity of every human life
- The heinous act of terror committed by Hamas on Oct 7, 2023, must be condemned
- Those held hostage should be released immediately
- All parties must stop the killing to create the conditions for lasting peace
We hold in our hearts the diversity and disagreements of our community which includes Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians. Some of us are more directly impacted by this crisis than others, but as Jews, we all have a relationship to it. Our congregation denounces the increased levels of antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and anti-Arab sentiment that this crisis has brought to the forefront. We are committed to the safety, survival, and healing of all people.
While this is not a statement that any of us might write individually, we are proud that it reflects our areas of agreement. We know that the editing process could extend forever, but in the meantime, people are being traumatized and killed. If we are going to speak out, the time is now.
On October 7, we were devastated and shocked to witness the brutal terror attack by Hamas in southern Israel, killing and injuring thousands of civilians, including families and children, in their homes. For many of us in Israel and the diaspora, this attack, the deadliest on Jews since the Holocaust, felt personal and traumatic. For those who feel Israel is a refuge, the shadow of the Holocaust has returned. As part of the attack, Hamas also kidnapped over 200 people, and as their status remains uncertain, the trauma magnifies. We mourn those murdered in this horrific attack and await the safe return of all those held hostage.
We are reeling from the trauma and suffering of Israelis and from the real fear and antisemitism that Jews are experiencing in the United States and around the world. We condemn the antisemitism and Islamophobia that have been reignited. We remain committed to standing against both.
We are also devastated to see the suffering of Palestinians as the Israeli government responds by continuously escalating a military response in Gaza. Thousands of people have been killed and over one million are displaced and cut off from food, fuel, water, and communication. Entire families have been wiped out, and almost half of the Gazans killed so far are children. Palestinians also carry intergenerational trauma continuing from the Nakba, and while the war continues, the trauma grows. We believe that Never Again means never again for everybody, and no population, including Israeli or Palestinian, should ever live in perpetual fear.
As we grieve, our hearts are full of love and support for Israelis and Palestinians as they reel from both the Hamas attack and the military onslaught in Gaza. We also know that no true justice and accountability can take place during a war where so many innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire. Therefore, in order to protect the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, we call for an immediate stop to the killing and for immediate release of all hostages.
As Jews, we all have a connection to Israel, whether as Zionists, non-Zionists, anti-Zionists, or a relationship in flux. We must engage and grapple with our personal and collective relationships with Israel, especially in this time of crisis. Our Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), b’tzelem Elohim (made in God’s image), and pikuach nefesh (saving a life) guide us to do what we can to help all those suffering or in pain. There is a lot we cannot agree on, but we can condemn the killing of civilians.
We are also taught the Jewish concepts of tzedek (justice) and din (accountability) and that true justice comes from balancing our ideals of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and personal and moral accountability. Such balancing becomes impossible during heavily armed conflict in the midst of a dense and fragile population. Thus, upon cessation of armed hostility and release of hostages, we urge all involved parties to engage in serious and direct negotiations toward a just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians and that those responsible be held accountable. We pray that Israelis and Palestinians live freely without terrorism, violence, or fear. Our Jewish values demand us to work toward a world filled with peace and human rights for all.