An Open Letter From a Jewish Youth Group

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January 7, 2009 by Gsmith

This is a letter penned by members of a Jewish youth group in Vancouver.


January 5th, 2009

Like much of the world, we have spent the last week watching in shock and disgust as Israel continues its assault on the Gaza Strip.  With the body count rising and a new tragedy in full bloom, we feel that it is important to speak out as Jewish youth in Canada and to denounce what Israel is doing in our name.

The Jewish diaspora is diverse and divided on its positions on the state of Israel’s policies.  At this juncture in history, as Israel has committed its worst massacre in Gaza since it began its illegal occupation in 1967, we feel that it is crucial that Jews speak out and denounce Israel’s actions that amount to no more than war crimes committed by an apartheid state.

As Jewish youth, we are diverse, but we are unified in our solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza.

Some of us are students.  We are outraged by the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza city, as well as other civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and mosques.

Some of us are Arab-Jews and people of colour.  We stand against Israel’s racism, which has been enshrined in Israeli law, and privileges its Jewish citizens over its non-Jewish ones.  This apartheid state views Palestinians as an expendable people, no more than collateral damage.

Some of us are queer.  We reject Israel’s branding of itself as the only safe place for queer people in the Middle-East while it targets gay and lesbian Palestinians and renders life unsafe for millions of others.

Some of us are Israelis living in Canada.  We are calling for a solidarity that stretches beyond borders and nationalities.  Israel’s violent actions will only serve to further isolate the state and its citizens from the rest of the world.

By calling itself a Jewish state and committing war crimes in the name of Jews everywhere, Israel makes the world even less safe for Jews, leading to an increase in animus towards Jewish people around the world.

Even though there have been approximately 100 Palestinian deaths for every Israeli killed by rocket fire, we recognize that Israeli Apartheid also leads to Israeli casualties.  The blame for these deaths lies with Israel — if there were no occupation and no apartheid policies, there would be no rocket fire.  If Israel, the world’s fourth largest military power, is concerned about its citizens, it would abandon its apartheid policies and seek out justice for the Palestinian people.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society put out a clear call for international support through a non-violent campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) similar to that carried out against the apartheid regime of South Africa.  Now, with the people of Gaza being crushed by Israeli bombs, manufactured in the USA and launched with Canada’s blessing, it is more important than ever for Jewish communities throughout the world to take up this BDS campaign in order to end Israel’s apartheid system, which makes life unsafe for millions of Jews and Palestinians alike.

Let us not be silent bystanders while humanity suffers.  Let us raise our voices, as Jewish youth, and demand a single, democratic state, with equal rights for everyone in Israel/Palestine.

Ours is a generation that is committed to ending Middle-East violence by opposing all forms of discrimination, calling for a just peace within the entire region, and condemning Zionism to the dustbin of history.

Free Gaza, Free Palestine,

Jenny Peto, Toronto
Aaron Lakoff, Montreal
Max Silverman, Montreal
Rachel Gurofsky, Peterborough
Simon Gurofsky, Ottawa
Zohar Melinek, Montreal
Claire Hurtig, Montreal
Ben Saifer, Ottawa
Brook Thorndycraft, Toronto
Joel Balsam, Montreal
David Mandelzys, Toronto
Reena Katz, Toronto
Mia Amir, Vancouver
Matthew Shuster, Kingston
Avi Grenadier, Kingston
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Waterloo
Melissa Harendorf, Montreal
Jeff Hiemstra, Toronto
Sacha Moiseiwitsch, Vancouver
Jake Javanshir, Toronto
Noam Lapid, Montreal
Stephen Kamnitzer, Toronto
Naava Smolash, Vancouver
Tamara Herman, Victoria
Ryan Katz-Rosene, Ottawa
Sarah Fuchs, Montreal
Daniel Thau-Eleff, Winnipeg
Deborah Rachlis, Ottawa
Marie L. Belliveau, St. Catharines
Sarah Kardash, Sackville
David Taub Bancroft, Vancouver
Kinneret Sheetreet, Montreal
Rachel Marcuse, Vancouver
Lisa Barrett, Bowen Island
Maisie Jacobson, Montreal
Max Tennant,Vancouver
Noah Fine, Vancouver
David Hill, Vancouver
Corey Balsam, Ottawa
Lee Skinner, Vancouver
Britt Lehmann-Bender, Toronto
Alexis Mitchell, Toronto


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