A group of rabbis is organizing a ‘fast for Gaza’, which they call Ta’anit Tzedek (one translation is ‘fast for justice’). Here is how they describe it:
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:
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.
Where to start? With my annoyance that people who would undoubtedly call themselves “pro-Israel” and maybe even “Zionists” would lend themselves to this? My surprise that so many rabbis would be ill-informed enough to sign on to it? My sorrow that I know some of the signatories?
Some questions for the rabbis:
- Israel says that the blockade exists to prevent the transfer of strategic materials to Hamas, that food and medical supplies are not affected, that Hamas hijacks aid shipments and uses it for its own purposes or sells it, and that there is no ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza. Hamas and compromised agencies like UNRWA — whose personnel are 99% Palestinian and the rest biased — and NGOs like Amnesty International — which consistently puts its stamp of approval on Hamas lies and exaggerations — say otherwise. The rabbis choose to believe Hamas and friends. Why?
- Gaza receives international help via UNRWA, which pumps millions into the strip in direct aid to refugees and payment of salaries for its more than 9,000 employees in the Strip. In addition, the Palestinian Authority — funded mostly by the US and the EU — pays the salaries of its thousands of employees in Gaza, even though they are either doing nothing or working for Hamas since its 2007 coup. Finally, President Obama has earmarked $900 million to rebuild Gaza after the recent war (incidentally, the damage is much less serious than the usual suspects claim). A great deal of this aid ends up in the hands of Hamas. Isn’t this enough?
- Israel has already communicated with Hamas via Egypt about the captive Gilad Schalit. Hamas demands were so outrageous and unreasonable that even the Israel that freed the monster Samir Kuntar in return for some bones could not reach a deal. Now these rabbis want “negotiations without pre-conditions” with Hamas? Would they have negotiated without pre-conditions with Adolf Hitler? What is the difference?
- Finally, the US is already ‘vigorously engaging’ Israel and the Palestinians. It is insisting that Israelis living in East Jerusalem may not build spare bedrooms, but has not insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. What more do they want?
The rabbis quote the Torah: “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s blood is being spilled (Leviticus 19:16).” But blood is not being spilled in Gaza today. Have they forgotten that Israel’s government stood by for six years — in the interest of peace — while the blood of their neighbors in Sderot, Kfar Aza and other Israeli towns was spilled by Hamas? And that Israel finally acted to kill the rodef [pursuer] that was trying to murder its people?
They also quote the Talmud: “On three things the world stands: on justice, on truth, and on peace (Mishnah Avot 1:18).” The contrast between this and the group’s position couldn’t be more stark:
- Instead of truth, they accept the lies of Hamas.
- Instead of justice, they ask for more ‘American engagement’ (which so far has meant pressure on Israel).
- And instead of peace, they propose actions which will lead to the strengthening and legitimization of the murderous, antisemitic Hamas.
B’ta’avon [hearty appetite]!