- Written by Peter Miller Peter Miller
- Published: 08 October 2023 08 October 2023
Some Members of the Jewish Community of Portland Oregon
For Immediate Release
October 8, 2023
Local Jewish Organization Releases Statements by Breaking the Silence,
IfNotNow, The Ha'aretz Editorial Board and Jewish Voice for Peace on the
Violence that has engulfed Israel and Gaza.
As members of the Jewish Community of Portland, Oregon, we are sharing with
the local news media statements that reflect urgently needed critical
perspectives on the explosion of violence and massive loss of live that we
have witnessed in Israel and Gaza since Saturday morning. We urge local
reporters and editors to include these perspective in their coverage as the
full scope of this terrible violence and aftermath unfolds.
Breaking the Silence (https://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/)
Hamas's attack and the events unfolding since yesterday are unspeakable. We
are heartbroken to watch terrified civilians besieged in their homes,
innocent people murdered in cold blood on the streets, at parties, and at
home. Dozens taken hostage and dragged into the Gaza Strip. Every one of us
knows someone who has been tragically affected. We could go on and on about
their cruel and criminal actions, or focus on how our Jewish-supremacist
government brought us to this point. But as hard as it is, our job as former
Israeli soldiers is to talk about what we were sent to do.
Israel's security policy, for decades now, has been to "manage the
conflict". Successive Israeli governments insist on round after round of
violence as if any of it will make a difference. They talk about "security",
"deterrence", "changing the equation".
All of these are code words for bombing the Gaza Strip to a pulp, always
justified as targeting terrorists, yet always with heavy civilian
casualties. In between these rounds of violence we make life impossible for
Gazans, and then act surprised when it all boils over.
We talk about "normalization" with the UAE and now Saudi Arabia, while
hoping the world will turn a blind eye to the open-air prison we built in
our backyard. Apart from the unfathomable violation of human rights, we've
created a massive security liability for our own citizens.
The question Israelis are all asking is - where were the soldiers yesterday?
Why was the IDF seemingly absent while hundreds of Israelis were slaughtered
in their homes and on the streets? The unfortunate truth is that they were
"preoccupied". In the West Bank.
We send soldiers to secure settler incursions into the Palestinian city of
Nablus, to chase Palestinian children in Hebron, to protect settlers as they
carry out pogroms. Settlers demand that Palestinian flags are removed from
the streets of Huwara; soldiers are sent to do it.
Our country decided - decades ago - that it's willing to forfeit the
security of its citizens in our towns and cities, in favor of maintaining
control over an occupied civilian population of millions, all for the sake
of a settler-messianic agenda.
The idea that we can "manage the conflict" without ever having to solve it
is once again collapsing before our eyes. It held up until now because only
few dared to challenge it. These heartbreaking events could change that.
They must. For all of us between the river and the sea.
We're watching the unfolding horrors with heartbreak and dread for our loved
ones - Israelis and Palestinians alike.
We cannot and will not say today's actions by Palestinian militants are
unprovoked. Every day under Israel's system of apartheid is a provocation.
The strangling siege on Gaza is a provocation. Settlers terrorizing entire
Palestinian villages, soldiers raiding and demolishing Palestinian homes,
murdering Palestinians in the streets, Israeli ministers calling for
genocide and expulsion. These are the provocations of the most extremist
right wing government in Israel's history and an emboldened fascist movement
escalating this crisis across the land.
We absolutely condemn the killing of innocent civilians and mourn the loss
of Palestinian and Israeli life, with numbers rising by the minute. Their
blood is on the hands of the Israeli government, the US government which
funds and excuses their recklessness, and every international leader who
continues to turn a blind eye to decades of Palestinian oppression,
endangering both Palestinians and Israelis. Anyone who minimizes or ignores
this context will only continue to be surprised as more blood is shed.
We call on our communities to reconsider the knee-jerk militarism that has
led us into this unfolding catastrophe. There is no path to a future of
safety and freedom for all Israelis and Palestinians without accountability
for this fascist government and an end to the ongoing, untenable status quo
of Israel's apartheid system.
Haaretz Editorial Team (excerpts)
The disaster that befell Israel on the holiday of Simchat Torah is the clear
responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister, who
has prided himself on his vast political experience and irreplaceable wisdom
in security matters, completely failed to identify the dangers he was
consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation
and dispossession, when appointing Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir to
key positions, while embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the
existence and rights of Palestinians.
In the past, Netanyahu marketed himself as a cautious leader who eschewed
wars and multiple casualties on Israel's side. After his victory in the last
election, he replaced this caution with the policy of a "fully-right
government," with overt steps taken to annex the West Bank [haaretz.com], to
carry out ethnic cleansing in parts of the Oslo-defined Area C, including
the Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley.
This also included a massive expansion of settlements and bolstering of the
Jewish presence on Temple Mount, near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as boasts
of an impending peace deal with the Saudis in which the Palestinians would
get nothing, with open talk of a "second Nakba" in his governing coalition.
As expected, signs of an outbreak of hostilities began in the West Bank,
where Palestinians started feeling the heavier hand of the Israeli occupier.
Hamas exploited the opportunity in order to launch its surprise attack on
Jewish Voice for Peace (https://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org)
The Root of Violence Is Oppression.
Right now, Palestinians, Israelis and all of us with family on the ground
are terrified for loved ones. We grieve the lives of those already lost and
remain committed to a future where every life is precious, and all people
live in freedom and safety.
Following 16 years of Israeli military blockade, Palestinian fighters from
Gaza launched an unprecedented assault, in which hundreds of Israelis were
killed and wounded, and civilians kidnapped. The Israeli government declared
war, launching airstrikes, killing hundreds of Palestinians and wounding
thousands, bombing residential buildings and threatening to commit war
crimes against besieged Palestinians in Gaza.
The Israeli government may have just declared war, but its war on
Palestinians started over 75 years ago. Israeli apartheid and occupation -
and United States complicity in that oppression - are the source of all this
violence. Reality is shaped by when you start the clock.
For the past year, the most racist, fundamentalist, far-right government in
Israeli history has ruthlessly escalated its military occupation over
Palestinians in the name of Jewish supremacy with violent expulsions and
home demolitions, mass killings, military raids on refugee camps,
unrelenting siege and daily humiliation. In recent weeks, Israeli forces
repeatedly stormed the holiest Muslim sites in Jerusalem.
For 16 years, the Israeli government has suffocated Palestinians in Gaza
under a draconian air, sea and land military blockade, imprisoning and
starving two million people and denying them medical aid. The Israeli
government routinely massacres Palestinians in Gaza; ten-year-olds who live
in Gaza have already been traumatized by seven major bombing campaigns in
their short lives.
For 75 years, the Israeli government has maintained a military occupation
over Palestinians, operating an apartheid regime. Palestinian children are
dragged from their beds in pre-dawn raids by Israeli soldiers and held
without charge in Israeli military prisons. Palestinians homes are torched
by mobs of Israeli settlers, or destroyed by the Israeli army. Entire
Palestinian villages are forced to flee, abandoning the homes and orchards
and land that were in their family for generations.
The bloodshed of today and the past 75 years traces back directly to U.S.
complicity in the oppression and horror caused by Israel's military
occupation. The U.S. government consistently enables Israeli violence and
bears blame for this moment. The unchecked military funding, diplomatic
cover, and billions of dollars of private money flowing from the U.S.
enables and empowers Israel's apartheid regime. Those who continue calling
for "ironclad" U.S. support for the Israeli military are only paving the
path to more violence.
From the U.S., there are no sidelines. We will uproot complicity where we
are: we demand that the U.S. government immediately take steps to withdraw
military funding to Israel and to hold the Israeli government accountable
for its gross violations of human rights and war crimes against
Palestinians. We commit to escalating our campaigns for boycott, divestment
and sanctions to end the billions pouring into the Israeli war machine from
corporations and private foundations.
Inevitably, oppressed people everywhere will seek - and gain - their
freedom. We all deserve liberation, safety, and equality. The only way to
get there is by uprooting the sources of the violence, beginning with our
own government's complicity.