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Open Letter to Senator Chris Murphy About Israel

November 27, 2023

The Honorable Chris Murphy

136 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Chris Murphy,

On Monday, October 9, you stood with me and our community on the steps of West Hartford Town Hall and proclaimed to the world that you would always stand with Israel, that your commitment to Israel was unshakeable, and that you were “going to stand in support of making sure Israel has everything it needs, every article of defense material to hunt down these brutal terrorists.” You declared your support for Israel’s inalienable right to self-defense and acknowledged that the campaign against the evil Hamas regime would neither be simple nor short.

However, unlike the unwavering support for Israel shown by President Biden and the Democratic leadership in the Senate, your tune has changed in recent weeks. Your comments on CNN’s State of the Union this past Sunday are a betrayal of those commitments.

Of course, every innocent life lost is precious; Jewish tradition preaches that every life loss is an entire world destroyed. It is for this reason the Israeli Defense Forces work so hard, so diligently, and are so committed to limiting civilian casualties even as the IDF does battle with Hamas terrorists who purposefully embed themselves within civilian populations, hospitals, schools and UN facilities.

You mentioned a strategic calculus. And, of course, there can be differences of opinions between allies about the best long-term strategy for conducting this campaign. However, I am most disturbed by your moral arithmetic. You seem to blame Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians of Gaza and question whether Israel is conducting its operations in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.

These implications are legally baseless and morally bankrupt. Neither international law nor any moral code allows terrorists to render themselves immune because they are craven enough to use their own people to guard their terrorist bases. Proportionality does not mean that we judge based on the number of dead; rather, it means that armies must make choices by weighing the military value of their target against potential civilian casualties. The horror here is that Hamas has made sure that all of its strategic targets are embedded in the civilian population. In any moral universe, Israel must consider the deaths of those civilians in their decision-making—and we know that the IDF does. It is Hamas and its partners who are ultimately responsible for the suffering and deaths. If Hamas surrendered, turned over its arms and returned the captives, the war would be over.

Worse, your insinuations that Israel is breaking international law are already being touted as a massive victory for pro-Hamas sympathizers and emboldens those who wish to delegitimize Israel and call for another genocide of Jews.

Perhaps most surprising is that you are now in favor of conditioning aid to Israel when you voted against the Taylor Force Act—a bill to prevent U.S. tax dollars from going to support payment to Palestinian terrorists for murdering civilians! Are you working to ensure aid into Gaza does not go to the Hamas terror regime?

As a voter and your constituent, I hope you will do better; Israel deserves better, America deserves better, we deserve better!

Sincerely, Rabbi Tuvia Brander

Rabbi Tuvia Brander is the rabbi of the Young Israel of West Hartford, the largest Orthodox synagogue in the Greater Hartford region.

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