Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jewish Voices Against the Massacre in Gaza.

Warren Goldstein writes:
There are far too many reasons to feel distress, sadness, and anger about Israel's massive air bombardment and invasion of Gaza--its shortsightedness; its counterproductive lethality; the self-righteousness of the so-called "friends of Israel" who have leapt to its defense; tasting the final, spoiled fruits of the Bush Administration's reign of diplomatic incompetence--to focus on any single one.
Once again, American Jews--and Israel, I believe--are being ill-served by the bulk of the American Jewish community's organizational leadership which, just as it did during the failed 2006 Lebanon war, has lined up to support Israeli bombs and tanks. This time, it seems they've learned a lesson from their justification for every Lebanese civilian death. The website of the Union for Reform Judaism hasn't--yet--suggested that Jews display lawn signs supporting the invasion, as it did during the Lebanon debacle. This time, its main spokespeople lead with their own pain and discomfort while insisting on the "tragic necessity" of the offensive. It's astonishing, really, since they could have spent some of their considerable political capital pressuring the Israeli government to make real peace, and avoided some of that pain. But the war's far from done, and who knows what the official Jewish propaganda machine could still come up with. If you see lawn signs promoting the invasion popping up on lawns, you'll know why.
The only bright spot I can see in this depressing, infuriating, all-too predictable opera is the most significant change in the American Jewish community since the last war: the birth and rapid growth of JStreet, which bills itself as the "political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement." Mostly (though not entirely) Jewish, JStreet brings a combination of Middle East expertise, inside-the-beltway credentials, and real funding to bear in a savvy political and advocacy operation. (Full disclosure: My son Isaac Luria works for JStreet, and I'm terrifically proud of his work.)
Since the bombardment began, JStreet has provided outstanding updates, principled opposition to Hamas's rocket-launching and Israeli bombing, and a petition calling for a cease-fire that quickly garnered more than 14,000 signatures. To sign the petition, click here.
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