Thursday, April 12, 2018
The Central Conference of American Rabbis is distressed by violence on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, including the firing of live rounds at protesters who threaten neither Israeli lives nor Israel’s territorial integrity. We urge the Israeli government and IDF to practice restraint in response to the protests that promise to continue at the Gaza border throughout the weeks ahead.
CCAR has always affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself and its border, including with lethal force when necessary to protect its citizens and its sovereign territory. Though the Gaza border protest has included acts of violence, and some protesters have come too close to the border, none has employed lethal force against Israelis or crossed into Israel. Cognizant that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel, we also note that these protests seem calculated by Hamas to provoke a violent Israeli response in order to trigger international condemnation.
The Talmud insists that every human life is of infinite value. Mindful of this teaching, Reform rabbis mourn the loss of Palestinians’ lives at the Gaza border in recent weeks. Our Jewish tradition permits the use of lethal force only to defend human life and to protect sovereign territory. We urge a return to the balance between necessary security measures and moral restraint that characterizes the IDF at its best.
As we anticipate the 70th celebration of Yom HaAtzma-ut, Israel’s Independence Day, next week, Reform rabbis call upon Israel to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:14), rather than being baited into unnecessarily employing lethal force. We urge the State of Israel to act according to its highest aspirations as an ethical, strong, confident, and secure nation. May we observe future celebrations in peace.
Rabbi David E. Stern Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis