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Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
December 2023

The Hamas terrorist assault upon Israel on Oct. 7, which took the lives of more  
than 1,000 civilians, and Israel’s response in Gaza, which has taken the lives of  
thousands of men, women and children, has stirred much discussion within the  
Jewish community.  
Sara Roy, senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at  
Harvard University, whose parents survived the Holocaust while 100 members of her  
family were killed in Poland, wrote an open letter to President Biden (London  
Review of Books, November 2023).  
She writes: “When does the death of a Palestinian child become unacceptable? Or  
perhaps I should ask the question this way: when will you assign a Palestinian  
life the same sanctity you assign an Israeli one? Yesterday, Israel bombarded  
the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. Part of the camp was destroyed and at least  
100 people were killed or injured. My friend the poet Mosab Abu Toha, his wife  
and children moved to Jabaliya recently after Israel warned them to leave their  
home in Beit Lahiya, a city north of the camp, because Beit Lehiya would be  
shelled. It was and Mosab’s house was destroyed. I have just heard from him  
after two days of frantic worry. ‘The bombing in Jabilya Camp was just 70 metres  
away from us,’ he said. ‘a whole neighborhood was wiped out.”  
Dr. Roy notes that, “Jabilya is a familiar place to me…It is the largest of  
Gaza’s eight refugee camps, with 26 schools, two health centers and a public  
library. More than 116,000 are in an area of 1.4 square kilometers. Do you have  
any idea what it means to crowd over 100,000 into half a square mile? I must also  
tell you that as a Jew and child of Holocaust survivors, I was welcomed into  
every home I visited in the camp. In fact, I was embraced…I don’t know if my  
friends are among those murdered or injured by Israel. But I do know that this  
is not the first atrocity, and it won’t be the last if the barbarity continues to  
be justified by you and the others with the power to stop it. You call for a  
‘humanitarian pause,’ which I do not understand. What does a pause mean in the  
middle of such carnage? Does it mean feeding people so they can survive to be  
killed the next day? How is that humanitarian? How is that humane?”  
Professor Emeritus Yakov M. Rabkin of the University of Montreal, author of the  
book “What Is Modern Israel?” provides this assessment (Pressenza, Nov. 1, 8,  
2023): “The new state of Israel placed Palestinian Arabs under military rule,  
which lasted nearly two decades. Refugees and exiles who tried to return to  
their homes were killed, expelled, or arrested…The murderous attack of Oct.7,2023  
obviously enraged most Israelis. But instead of taking pause, military and  
political leaders immediately subjected Gaza to massive bombardment followed by a  
ground invasion…This caused a humanitarian crisis.”  
In Rabkin’s view, “Vengeful demonization of the Palestinians has become common.  
Even the soft-spoken president of Israel claimed that there were no ‘innocent  
civilians’ in Gaza. Meirev Ben-Ari, a parliamentarian from Yesh Atid, which in  
Israel passes for a liberal centrist party, said in reference to thousands of  
Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombardment, ‘The children of Gaza have  
brought this upon themselves! We are a peace-seeking nation, a life-loving  
nation.’…Many Jews…have been trying to come to terms with the contradictions  
between the Judaism they profess to adhere to and the Zionist ideology that has  
taken hold of them. A new variety of Judaism has taken root in Israel: National  
Judaism…Among its most fervent followers one finds the assassin of Prime Minister  
Yitzhak Rabin, who had attempted to find an accommodation with the Palestinians,  
and prominent members of today’s Israeli government.”  
Prof. Wendy Pearlman, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Studies  
Program at Northwestern University, wrote an article, “Collective Punishment in  
Gaza will Not Bring Israel Security” (New Lines Magazine, 0ct. 30, 2023). She  
writes, “The current siege of Gaza has shifted…to uprooting it entirely. Indeed,  
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s declaration that Israel is fighting ‘human  
animals’ points to an even more startling biological metaphor. It not only casts  
all of Gaza as a fair target, but also deploys dehumanizing rhetoric of the kind  
that scholars have long recognized as genocidal.”  
Dr. Pearlman concludes: “Bombardment, siege, forced displacement and the denial  
of humanitarian access might satisfy the desire for revenge, but these actions  
cannot bring Israelis security. As long as self-determination is denied,  
Palestinian resistance will continue. There is no military solution to the…  
political problem of two peoples seeking to live with freedom and dignity on the  
same small piece of land. Security requires peace, which can only be obtained  
through a negotiations process grounded in respect for international law and the  
human rights of all people.”  
Rabbi Alissa Wise of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council states:  
“History will ask: what did you do to stop the Israeli genocide of Palestinian  
people? Have an answer…Zionism is incompatible with Judaism. The point of  
fasting today because of destruction and losses and trauma our ancestors suffered  
is to prevent us from doing the same to others. Instead, the ‘Jewish’ state uses  
the state to destroy…and traumatize Palestinians. By design, under Israeli law,  
Palestinians have an inferior status to Jews legally, judicially, politically.  
This is apartheid.”  
Rabbi Brant Rosen of Congregation Tzedek Chicago states that, “After the horrific  
massacre of Israelis by Hamas on Oct. 7, the collective Jewish world entered into  
an acute and unprecedented period of mourning. Our hearts then cracked open  
again—-and continue to crack open—-as thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are being  
killed by Israeli bombs and an Israeli ground invasion, and Israelis continue to  
die…. This latest violence did not occur in a vacuum. It is but the latest  
manifestation of an injustice that Israel has been perpetrating against  
Palestinian people for decades. We must shine an unflinching light on the roots  
of this violence…. For the past 75 years, Israel has been violently dispossessing  
Palestinians in order to make way for a majority Jewish state. And for just as  
long, the Palestinian people have been resisting their dispossession…” *

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