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Hundreds of Israeli Intellectuals to World Jewry: “End Occupation for Israel’s Sake”

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
December 2016

Hundreds of Israeli artists and intellectuals urged Jews around the world to  
challenge Israeli policy toward Palestin¬ians in an open letter.  
The letter, according to The Times of Israel (Sept. 15, 2016), declares: “We  
call upon Jews around the world to join with Israeli partners for  
coordinated action to end occupation and build a new future, for the sake of  
the State of Israel, and generations to come.”  
The 470 signatories include 48 winners of Israel’s most prestigious awards  
(the Israel Prize and the EMET Prize); seven high-ranking IDF officers; 20  
former Israeli ambassadors, ministers, senior government officials and  
members of the Knesset; and 160 professors at Israeli universities.  
Among the most well-known signatories are authors David Grossman and Amos  
Oz, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and 20 former Israeli ambassadors.  
“The prolonged occupation is inherently oppressive for Palestinians and  
fuels mutual bloodshed. It undermines the moral and democratic fabric of the  
State of Israel and hurts its standing in the community of nations,” the  
letter argues.  
The organization “Save Israel, Stop Occupation” seeks to end Israel’s  
control of the territories occupied after the June 1967 Six Day War and to  
establish a Palestinian state. Those territories include the West Bank and  
East Jerusalem.  
The organization’s director Jessica Montell said that Israel’s military rule  
“harms Israeli society and it harms Jews around the world.”  
A former AIPAC official, Greg Slabodkin, citing “nearly half a century” of  
occupation, calls for conditioning U.S. aid to Israel on that country  
agreeing to freeze its settlements. He argues that Israel’s “oppressive  
discriminatory settlement policies in the occupied West Bank and East  
Jerusalem continue unabated.”  
Writing in The Hill, Slabodkin reacted to the news that the Obama  
administration was preparing to sign a massive new aid package with Israel,  
giving it approximately $40 billion over 10 years, “the biggest aid package  
ever given to any country.”  
He notes that, “Under Netanyahu’s watch, Israel clearly has no intention  
ending its occupation. Consequently, the U.S. should be exerting pressure on  
Israel to persuade the Netanyahu government to abandon its settlement  
activities, not rewarding the Jewish state with increased military aid. The  
Obama administration should make it clear that there are strings attached to  
U.S. aid and that Israel’s failure to comply with a settlement freeze will  
have financial penalties. … Netanyahu … recently formed the most right-wing  
government in Israel’s history, has driven U.S.-Israeli relations to their  
lowest point in a generation by undermining the prospects for peace with the  
Palestinians by entrenching the Israeli occupation …” (Mondoveiss, Aug. 5,  
In September, the U.S. signed an unprecedented pact with Israel that will  
provide it with the largest amount of military aid ever awarded, $38 billion  
over 10 years, with promises of the latest in fighter jets, missile defense  
systems and cutting-edge technology.  
While the U.S. placed no conditions upon this aid, President Obama, the  
Washington Post (Sept. 15, 2016) reports, “used the occasion to press for  
Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table in search of  
a resolution to their decades-old conflict. Eventually, he said, two  
independent states must emerge, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.”  
President Obama declared: “Ultimately, this Memorandum of Understanding and  
efforts to advance the two-state solution are motivated by the same core  
U.S. objective that has been shared by all administrations, Democratic and  
Republican, over the last several decades— ensuring that Israelis can live  
alongside their neighbors in peace and security.”  
In the view of Haaretz (Sept. 18, 2016) columnist Gideon Levy, “Barack Obama  
is a bad president for Israel. If the military aid he approved for the  
coming decade is the largest ever, then as president he is the worst ever  
for Israel. The last thing Israel needs is more arms, which will push it  
toward more acts of violence. Three hundred dollars for each U.S.-taxpayer  
for the next ten years. Not toward America’s considerable social needs, not  
to assist truly needy countries — imagine what $38 billion would do for  
Africa — but to provide weapons for an army that is one of the most  
powerfully armed in the world … one which methodically defies the U.S. and  
the international community. And worst of all, this country will receive  
another free gift, without having to give anything in return.”  
Levy concludes: “Israelis should not be grateful for U.S. generosity; it is  
damaging to their country. What does Israel need more armaments for? Why  
does it need to make war against the barefoot people of Gaza and the young  
men of the West Bank? … With friends like that one hardly needs enemies.  
Israel can go on about its business, the check is blank and America is  
paying, no strings attached … Is there any worse news for Israel?” •

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