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Rabbis launch campaign to lift Israeli blockade of Gaza

By       Message Rabbi Brian Walt       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 7/10/09

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Over the past few weeks, I have been privileged to work closely with Rabbi Brant Rosen and several rabbinic colleagues developing a campaign to break the silence in the Jewish community on the issue of Gaza. I am very pleased to invite you to participate in Taanit Tzedek-Jewish Fast for Gaza, the campaign that we launched yesterday. This is the first rabbinical response to the suffering in Gaza. Although rabbis have taken the lead in this initiative, we invite all Jews, all people of faith and all people of conscience to join us.

To read more about the project and to sign on as a participant, please visit our website: www.fastforgaza.net

I want to acknoweldge the extraordinary vision and courage of my colleague, Rabbi Brant Rosen. Rabbi Rosen was, in my opinion, the most courageous rabbi in America during the Gaza war. On his blog and in many public settings, Rabbi Rosen, a brilliant congregational rabbi, sp0ke the truth about the war at a time when there were just a handful of rabbis in America who said a word about the incredible suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people. He upheld the Jewish commitment to menshlichkeyt/human decency at a time of moral crisis. Rabbi Rosen attempted to organize a public rabbinic response to the war, but the effort was unsuccessful.

It has bean so inspiring to join him now as co-coordinator of the first public rabbinic response to Israel's immoral collective punishment of all the residents of Gaza.

I hope you join the campaign.

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List yourself as a supporter of the Jewish Fast for Gaza.

The Jewish Fast for Gaza is an ad hoc group of rabbis, Jews, and people of conscience who have committed to undertake a monthly daytime fast in support of the following goals:

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1. To call for a lifting of the blockade that prevents the entry of civilian goods and services into Gaza;

2. To provide humanitarian and developmental aid to the people of Gaza;

3. To call upon Israel, the US, and the international community to engage in negotiations without pre-conditions with all relevant Palestinian parties - including Hamas - in order to end the blockade;

4. To encourage the American government to vigorously engage both Israelis and Palestinians toward a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Background:

The Torah teaches,

Do not stand idly by when your neighbor's blood is being spilled (Leviticus 19:16).

As Jews and people of conscience, we can no longer stand idly by Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

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Since Hamas' electoral victory in January 2006, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to an increasingly intolerable blockade that restricts Gaza's ability to import food, fuel and other essential materials, and to export finished products. As a result, the Gazan economy has completely collapsed. Most of Gaza's industrial plants have been forced to close, further contributing to already high levels of unemployment and poverty and rising levels of childhood malnutrition.

The Talmud teaches,

On three things the world stands: on justice, on truth, and on peace (Mishnah Avot 1:18).

From this we learn that justice, truth and peace are interdependent and irrevocably intertwined. Thus we cannot separate our call for justice in Gaza from the painful truth of this conflict and the ongoing tragedy of war in this tortured region. We condemn Hamas' deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians. Out of the same ethical commitments we also condemn the use of much greater violence by the Israeli government, causing many more deaths of Palestinian civilians. Since the end of Israel's recent military campaign, the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza has grown all the more dire.

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Rabbi Brian Walt is the Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights North America and was the founding Rabbi of JRF Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, PA

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