The following is a letter from Howard Horowitz to the Israel Action Committee of his synagogue in Westchester, New York. Horowitz is the former President of the WESPAC Foundation. The letter was shared on Facebook.
Dear Fellow Israel Action Committee Members,
Today is one of the most tragic days in the history of the Jewish people. It is time to “break the silence,” to invoke the Israeli soldier organization Breaking the Silence. When will we stand up, as human beings, as a committee and as a Temple, to condemn the massacre of Palestinians on the Gaza border? The dictionary definition of massacre is “an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people.” That is what occurred and is occurring. We can never say we did not know. If we say we hold Jewish values, we will stand up and be counted and proclaim that we were strangers in the land of Egypt, we were slaughtered in the Holocaust and we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
In this, the “Gaza Spring,” the IDF has killed more than 80 Palestinians and maimed and wounded 10,000 more. Not one Israeli casualty, not a scratch. No guns on the “other“ side just burning tires and “deadly” kites. Why do I have images of David and Goliath (except this time Goliath is winning)?
Why do I have images of people who after 70 years of exile, want to go home, to return to their homes? Are the Palestinians, in the face of the Israeli Goliath, the new Jews? Their struggle brings to my mind images of the Jews on the Exodus on a hunger strike while running the British blockade and siege only to be captured and sent to detention and barbed wire in Cyprus. The Palestinians in Gaza are trying to break the Israeli siege.
We as Jews who remember the Holocaust and the victimization of the Jewish people stand in solidarity with the new Jews. If we don’t stand up and say no, we are complicit in murder, plain and simple.
The massacre of Palestinians by those who claim to represent the Jewish people is by far the most painful and shameful aspect of today. The second most painful and shameful aspect is the besmirching of the holy city of Jerusalem, which is a Palestinian and Jewish and Christian and Muslim and international city. Is the alliance between Trump and the Netanyahu regime not a wake-up call to liberal Jews that actions such as those taken today in Jerusalem are not acceptable and will only lead to greater violence and alienation? We are ready to say no to systematic oppression and the exclusion of Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel, exclusion that is a literal form of ant-Semitism. We must also be ready to say no to the cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinians who do not have the same rights as we do though we do not even live there.
As Jews, we need to stand up as Jews and reclaim our heritage. We are Americans who acknowledge and memorialize the genocide of native Americans, we memorialize and mourn the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, most recently with the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Now we must acknowledge and atone for the expulsion, oppression and killing of Palestinians for the past 70 years. We must, as Jews, teach the Nakba in our religious and Hebrew schools, understanding that Nakba denial is no different than Holocaust denial. We would not make peace with those who deny the Holocaust and makes teaching its memory illegal. We should expect no different for Palestinians whose history is denied, whose curriculum is deemed illegal, and whose story is buried under the trees planted by the Jewish National Fund for which we, as American children, put pennies in the pushka? As I noticed on a recent visit to Jerusalem, “Palestine” as a place where Jews lived before the Holocaust is willfully erased even in Yad Vashem. In addition to the 4 billion dollars per year in military aid that the US provides to Israel—funds for the weapons of death and massacre in Gaza—there is also the matter of our monies given to UJA, JNF and Israel Bonds that go directly to the settlement enterprise that displaces Palestinians and defies international law.
Given this critical moment and today’s horrific events, I respectfully request an emergency meeting of the IAC to discuss how to address this crisis. We need to provide our congregation information so they may judge fact from fiction, and truth from propaganda. We need to take a public stand against the violence being perpetuated by Israel with sister congregations and the URJ. To avoid such a discussion would be a demonstration of willful ignorance that has been and remains the greatest danger to the Jewish people and to all people.
The favor of a reply is requested and with a proposed meeting date. In an effort to start to discern fact from fiction, I am attaching recent articles and materials from pre-eminent Jewish and non-Jewish sources. The article that speaks directly to the issue of truth, lies and propaganda is from the Forward by Peter Beinart. The most difficult article for us to read is about the Nakba at this link.
Sincerely, and with no small degree of sadness on this tragic day,