[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 17:13:05 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Laura Wernick <ljw17@columbia.edu>
Subject: Jews and Arabs Jointly Condemn Israeli Government's Actions

Jews and Arabs Jointly Condemn Israeli Government's Actions

Press release from the Ad-hoc coalition of Jews and Arabs,
18 April 1996

New York, APRIL 18, 1996--A coalition of Arabs and Jews, all long active in promoting peace between Israel and its neighbors, and stunned by the silence of American-Jewish leaders, together today to condemn recent Israeli government actions. Israel is a cting with the most cynical of purposes: to demonstrate to the Israeli electorate that the Labor Party is no less willing to injure, kill and dislocate innocent Arabs, than is Likud, says LAURA WERNICK of the International Jewish Peace Union, which has joined the ad-hoc coalition.

Once again, the Israeli government shows its flagrant disregard of international law.

The killings of nearly 100 people today is a shocking, but not surprising consequence of Israel's reliance on military means to resolve political problems, says IJPU's Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark.

There are more than 130 dead, perhaps half a million people displaced from homes, and Lebanon's infrastructure is being devastated, notes coalition member GEORGE BITAR. Israel is inflicting death, destruction and dislocation on hundreds of thousands of people, whose only crime is to live in areas in which the Israelis believe terrorists also live, adds NUBAR HOVSAPIAN. This is a wildly disproportionate response to the initial mortar attacks.

Although I believe the recent attacks on Israeli citizens must be condemned, adds RABBI J. ROLANDO MATALON, of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, the Israeli response is morally and Jewishly unacceptable. In my view, the best response to the complex in the Middle East is the continuation of a negotiated settlement. The moral issues involved in indiscriminently targeting a civilian population and the conscious creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees as a political strategy are simple, observes wri ter GRACE PALEY. Such actions are wrong.

Israel claims that the strikes have been targeted at precise Hezbollah strongholds. But, Israeli commanders have made it clear that the real target of the indiscriminate destruction has been Lebanon's civilian population, points out Rabbi Michael Fein berg. Both the Deputy Defense Minister Ori Orr and the Prime Minister have said that they intend to use the agony of Lebanon's civilian population to force its government to act forcefully against Hezbollah. But doing so might plunge the entire nation back into the chaos of civil war.

The coalition considers it equally important to condemn Israel's continued collective punishment and land appropriations in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli authorities not only continue to demolish the houses of families and friends of suspected terror ists, notes civil liberties attorney ALAN LEVINE, they are also using house demolitions to Palestinians from the vicinity of Kiryat Arba, the right-wing settlement outside Hebron. No one has suggested that the owners of any of these houses have engaged in terrorist activities. Collective punishment is a distinguishing feature of history's most notorious outlaw states. It violates the fundamental moral and legal principle that punishment shall only be upon the wrongdoer.

Members of the coalition, which includes writers, journalists, rabbis, educators and professionals, have been active with the American Council on Palestinian Affairs, the American Israeli Civil Liberties Coalition, the International Jewish Peace Union, J ews Against the Gulf War, the Jewish Peace Fellowship, the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation, New Jewish Agenda, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, and The Road to Peace.

Contacts: Donna Nevel or Alan Levine 212-932-1949
Laura Wernick 718-399-0737