Monday, December 29, 2008

American Jewish and Arab statements on Gaza

Statement on Gaza from Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (Jewish peace group)
Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who among us has not watched in alarm and anguish as the crisis has unfolded in Gaza and southern Israel over the past two days? Close to 300 Palestinians have died and hundreds more are wounded -- both Hamas militants and ordinary citizens. More than 120 rockets have been launched into Israel, with one man killed.

Though some Israeli action is an understandable response to continued rocket fire from Hamas, and the idea of contained surgical strikes may be compelling, these airstrikes represent a huge escalation of the conflict -- a crisis that may end in a wider war in which many more Palestinians and Israelis die in the weeks to come.

The now familiar sequence of escalating mutual hostility, invasion, and withdrawal without security arrangements has never worked -- in Lebanon, the West Bank, or in Gaza itself. The United States and the entire world community must intercede to help reestablish a ceasefire, put an end to rocket attacks on Israel, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Brit Tzedek calls on President Bush to initiate an international effort aimed at negotiating an immediate ceasefire. Such a ceasefire must halt all attacks from both sides and allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

Further, we call on President-elect Obama to make clear that he will, as President, urgently assert US leadership to achieve a comprehensive diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Today, black smoke spirals over Gaza as the hospitals fill with the wounded. Israelis stay close to bomb shelters and 7000 reservists get ready for a possible ground assault. If the international community fails to swiftly establish a durable peace, the consequences will be dire. The current hostilities in Gaza may be only the beginning.

There is no doubt that Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens. But Israel's only hope for survival as a secure and democratic Jewish homeland lies in a diplomatic -- rather than military -- solution, and in a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Steve Masters, President, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Diane Balser, Executive Director, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

National Office
11 E. Adams St. Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Ph: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

ADC Condemns Gaza Attacks

Advocacy group calls on US to play its proper role as an honest broker to the humanitarian disaster in Gaza

Washington, DC | December 29, 2008 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today strongly condemned the continuing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Reports indicate that the Israeli air strikes over the past two days have killed 330 people in Gaza and have left over 1450 more injured, almost 300 of which are in critical condition. The UN estimates that %5 of those killed are children under the age of 18. These strikes come after several weeks of a tight blockade which left many of Gaza's 1.5-million inhabitants without sufficient food, water, fuel or medicine. The population of Gaza is 2/3 refugee and more than half are under the age of 16. The UN has listed Gaza as the most densely populated area in the world with a population density that is higher than that of Manhattan in New York City.

Numerous studies have indicated that similar attacks in the past have failed to make Israeli citizens any safer and resulted in increased support of Hamas extremists. During the cease-fire brokered by Egypt this past summer, rocket attacks by Hamas extremists had greatly diminished. The blockade of Gaza was relaxed slightly by Israel however it never ended completely. Israel escalated the situation in early November by killing 4 Palestinians in Gaza in the bloodiest violation of the cease-fire during the Egyptian-brokered agreement. The month that followed brought a return of a suffocating siege on the civilians of Gaza and rocket attacks against southern Israel. Prior to the current Israeli attacks, over 850 Palestinians had been killed by Israel since the Annapolis summit in late 2007. These numbers are compared to less than 20 Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza since 2000. The disproportionate nature of this latest round of violence is representative of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in general and continues to fan the flames of discontent in the Arab and Muslim worlds. On Saturday, ADC called upon Americans to contact their legislators and representatives to express thier outrage at the attacks in Gaza. That action alert can be found here :

Today, ADC sent letters to President Bush, President-Elect Obama, Secretary of State Rice, and the Ambassador of Israel in Washington calling for an immediate end of hostilities on all sides. Further, the letters criticized the American response to the attacks which placed all blame on Hamas with no mention of Israel's disproportionate and continuing bombardment of Gaza. While Hamas is guilty of rocket fire, which indiscriminately targets civilians in Israel, this falls within the context of a prolonged siege in which Israel too is indiscriminately targeting 1.5 million civilians in Gaza. The official response from the White House and State Department was irresponsible and ignored American national and economic interests in addition to international humanitarian law and the laws of war.

ADC Calls on:

1) All parties directly involved to immediately work to end hostilities on all sides and arrive at a new cease-fire agreement;

2) The United States to exert immediate pressure on its ally Israel to halt attacks on Gaza's population;

3) The Arab world to work to alleviate the suffering and hunger in the Gaza Strip;

4) The American media to fairly portray the situation in Gaza and to recall the disproportion, context of occupation, and siege when mentioning the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas on southern Israel
Throughout the history of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations only cease-fires and agreements have brought peace and security for both Arabs and Israelis.

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