April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As calls in the public domain — from U.S. city councils to the U.N. to the Hague — continue for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, measures addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and charges of genocide against Israel, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey affirms and encourages peace minded people of good faith and goodwill to affirm that the suffering of all innocent Palestinians is very real and tragic and the concern for their well-being is unquestionable, while widespread misrepresentations of the reality of the situation that foster misinformation stoking anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment and threats — and do nothing to solve the real problem — cannot be overlooked.

It is a fact that Israel is not the aggressor or the cause of this war. Indeed, Israel is currently under attack from pro-Iranian factions in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen with 250,000 displaced citizens forced to leave border towns in the south and north. This cannot be ignored.

Pressuring Israel to compromise its security to end the humanitarian crisis and stating false accusations against the Israeli military is sorely misdirected. Both fuel anti-Israel sentiment aimed at Jews in this country and our local New Jersey communities, creating a demoralizing and unsafe situation while failing to advance workable solutions.

Consider:

  1. The number of Palestinian casualties reported by every media outlet is based on information from the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health and does not differentiate between Hamas combatants, estimated at 8,000+ killed, per the IDF; casualties from Hamas rockets that have fallen short into Palestinian neighborhoods (12% according to the IDF); or “civilians” who assist Hamas by providing the location of Israeli forces or pretending to be injured to lure Israeli soldiers into an ambush.
  2. Using terms like “relentless” to describe the Israeli Air Force bombing is irresponsible as it invites anti-Israel and antisemitic inferences that can incite violence against Jews. In fighting the world threat of Hamas and its affiliates, Israel uses all available resources, including to minimize civilian casualties. Israel uses precision air-to-ground munitions 55%-60% of the time, which is more than any country in the history of urban warfare, according to experts. Other munitions, such as so called “dumb bombs,” are either guided by GPS, cameras, computers on board fighter jets or by real-time human monitoring who, to the best of their ability, rule out the presence of civilians in the targeted area.
  3. Not mentioning that one of the main reasons for civilian casualties is the Hamas tactic of using innocent civilians as human shields with a disregard for human life, is ignoring the root cause of Palestinian suffering.
  4. The week-long ceasefire collapsed on Dec. 1 after Hamas failed to provide a new list of hostages for release that day and fired rockets at Israel just before the 7 a.m. deadline. Israel did not break the ceasefire on Dec. 1.

Every letter, resolution or statement about the war must always begin by pointing out that on Oct. 6 there was a ceasefire in place, shattered the next day when Hamas launched its heinous attack against Israel. Failing to remember that fact outright ignores how this conflict began and ignores accountability for Hamas’ actions.

Asking President Biden to pressure Israel to cease offensive military attacks, knowing that based on statements made by Hamas leaders that Oct. 7 is merely one of many planned attacks, is injudicious and unreasonable.

Asking President Biden to press the Israeli government to allow aid to enter Gaza implies that it does not. This overlooks the fact that since the beginning of the war, over 145,000 tons of aid and more than 8,000 trucks have entered into Gaza. Immorally, Hamas is stealing much of this and very little is getting to the Palestinian people.

This war can end now if Hamas surrenders and returns all the hostages. This would immediately solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Given the facts, we would expect that the release of innocent hostages would be the first in any list of requests from the U.S. administration, U.N., or other national, international or local body. This should be the defining assessment and demand of those concerned with truth, justice and human rights.


Murray Katz is president of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ. Susan Antman is its executive director and Dan Rozett is the director of community relations and Israel engagement.

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