April 8, 2024
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April 8, 2024
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Gov. Murphy’s Ceasefire Call Shocks NJ Jewish Community

Governor Phil Murphy

Gov. Phil Murphy’s unexpected March 27 statement supporting a ceasefire in Gaza has “disappointed and saddened” New Jersey’s Jewish community and prompted a response from the Jewish Federations of New Jersey that more than 70 synagogues, organizations and institutions have signed.

“While we appreciate his condemning Hamas and acknowledging the
urgent need to bring all the hostages home, we find his announcement tone-deaf,” read the statement. “Since October 7, the Jewish community in New Jersey has been under siege due to the 400 % rise in antisemitism in our schools, universities and municipalities.”

The response went on to disagree with the governor’s belief that a ceasefire would ensure long-term peace and security for Israelis.

“By calling for a ceasefire, he endangers the survival of the only democracy in the Middle East and ignores the root causes of the war,” said the statement, which noted, “Conflating a two-state solution with a ceasefire is dangerous, enables antisemitism to soar, and heightens division among the very people who elected Governor Murphy to lead our state.”

In his statement Murphy said, “At this pivotal juncture, we must recognize that the current course of conflict is taking too great of a toll. A ceasefire by all parties will end immediate hostilities, help pave the way for meaningful stability in the region, and set us on a path to a two-state solution, which will ensure long-term peace and security for Israelis, Palestinians and the entire Middle East.”

The governor also demanded that “the international community stand united “ in calling for the dismantling of Hamas, which he called “a terrorist organization that murdered over 1,200 innocent individuals and kidnapped over 200 hostages—including one of New Jersey’s very own, Edan Alexander of Tenafly—on October 7 in a brutal, premeditated terrorist attack. For this reason, it is abundantly clear that as long as Hamas remains in power, it is impossible to imagine long-term peace in the region.”

The Federation statement indicated the governor caught the Jewish community off-guard and expressed disappointment that “our governor had ample opportunity to share his concerns with the Jewish community, but instead chose to unilaterally publish a statement. It is disheartening to learn that the governor does not appreciate the devastating local impact of this war on the Jewish community. His statement minimizes the plight of the hostages, including from our own

New Jersey families and communities. His statement offers nothing for the victims on both sides, who need Hamas to surrender for this war to end. Nor does his statement stand for decency and civilization in the face of terror and hate.”

In his message Murphy noted the “deep pain and despair, not only for our Muslim, Arab American and Palestinian American neighbors, but for all of us who are watching the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

It went on to cite the innocent civilians killed in the conflict and the tens of thousands more who are in “dire” danger of starvation, including many women and children. Murphy also expressed sympathy for those in the state’s large Palestinian-American community mourning the loss of “innocent loved ones.”

Individual Jewish federations throughout the state posted the association’s statement to their websites and Facebook pages and immediately joined in urging their supporters to contact the governor’s office.

The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey added, “Governor Murphy, we feel betrayed by your statement earlier today calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

CEO Dov Ben-Shimon of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest in his blog said, “We’re aware of the very troubling and misguided statement issued by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy yesterday… It is more critical than ever that the 600,000 plus Jews in New Jersey speak with a united voice and message.”

The broad coalition of voices that signed on to the association’s statement included synagogues representing a broad spectrum of denominations, JCCs, educational organizations and day schools, Jewish Family Services, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Bar Association of New Jersey, Rutgers Hillel and a handful of businesses.

Debra Rubin has had a long career in journalism writing for secular weekly and daily newspapers and Jewish publications. She most recently served as Middlesex/Monmouth bureau chief for the New Jersey Jewish News. She also worked with the media at several nonprofits, including serving as assistant public relations director of HIAS and assistant director of media relations at Yeshiva University.

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