Only by Ending the Occupation and Embracing Equality Can This Terrible Bloodshed End


The last several days have been devastating. The weeks leading up to it have been horrifying. Since the beginning of the Israel’s Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014 upwards of eighty Palestinians have been killed and approximately 500 wounded by Israeli missiles and two Israelis have been wounded from rockets fired from Gaza. We have watched with sadness and anger as the deaths of children have mounted, racist mobs have rampaged, the fears of people throughout both Israel and Palestine have reached unbearable levels, and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people has intensified.

Jewish Voice for Peace Protesters

Credit: Creative Commons.

In just the last few days, scores of Palestinians – with no place to hide – have been killed, while the entire population of Gaza experiences the terror of widespread bombing. Israelis have had to endure the fear of never knowing when or where the next rocket will fall.
What is worse, reports from Israel and the Jewish Daily Forward ( in the United States are now confirming that this entire escalation was artificially created by Israeli political leaders and built on a foundation of lies.
None of this should be happening. As we mourn all who have died, we also reaffirm that all Israelis and Palestinians deserve security, justice, and equality.
To end violence – and truly mourn its victims – we must acknowledge, and challenge the root causes beneath it. The Occupation, with U.S. military and financial support, is the root cause. The daily structural violence of the occupation systematically denies the very humanity of Arabs, while valuing Jewish lives at the expense of others. Our unshakeable belief in justice – as Jews and as human beings – compels us to acknowledge that the root of this violence lies in the Israeli government’s commitment to occupation over the well-being of Palestinians or Israelis. Where our leaders have so thoroughly refused that truth, it is our responsibility to hold it up.This is why my organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, is calling for signatures to an Open Letter demanding an end to the Occupation. When we reach 18,000 signatures, we’ll publish the letter in Ha’aretz and The Forward – and call on our communities stand up with us.
The media is portraying the current violence as the most recent flare-up of a long running conflict between two-sides using equal force against the other. We know the truth to be different. The relative ‘calm’ in Israeli and international media for the last seven years or so has not been calm for Palestinian communities. The ongoing occupation inflicts both direct and structural violence, making daily life and the struggle for existence into an act of resistance.
The recent and very public violence against Palestinians in the streets of Jerusalem and elsewhere did not happen in a vacuum. Anti-Palestinian bigotry is not only acceptable but a powerful political tool in Israel. Long before this latest escalation, everyday life for Palestinians meant increasing numbers of settlements taking over their lands and homes, and a web of violence and control which reached into every area of life, simply because they are not Jewish.
Those few Israelis who are bravely speaking out against their governments’ inhumane policies need to know that they have our support. Those Palestinians who are under daily assault need to know that we see them.
As Americans, and especially as Jews, we can not wait one more moment to speak up. In such a terrible moment, we must join what we feel with what we know.
Please join me in signing this urgent Open Letter that says:

Only by ending the occupation, which is funded by unconditional U.S. military aid and diplomatic support, and embracing equality can this terrible bloodshed end.

Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace. She lived in Israel with her family from 2006-2009, and has been named one of the Forward 50 most influential Jewish leaders in 2010. JVP is a national, grassroots organization dedicated to achieving a lasting peace that recognizes the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 130,000 online supporters, forty chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Cabinet, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.

9 thoughts on “Only by Ending the Occupation and Embracing Equality Can This Terrible Bloodshed End

  1. Have you ever considered that Gazans are being held hostage Hamas and other militant groups? Think about it. Gazan rights are being trampled on by the very militants claiming to fight on their behalf. I guess accepting this will place this conflict in its proper context.

  2. “The Occupation, with U.S. military and financial support, is the root cause. ”
    I wish it was so simple as getting rid of the Occupation (unless you mean to send the Jews back to Poland and Iraq.) I am against the Occupation and agree it should stop and be rolled back. So was Ariel Sharon.
    But Hamas is headstrong in destroying Israel completely so it is far more complex than simply being against the Occupation.
    There is plenty of blame on all sides — and contrast to Rabbi Robbie’s refrain — Israel is not a middle east goliath. It is more powerful that the Palis but en masse, Israel is a small country amidst millions of Arabs.

    • Once the occupation is kver, Hamas and any extremist faction will lose favor with the general population. They will lose their sppeal and therefore their power. Do not let speculation deter us from doing the right thing.

  3. I have an idea to solve tragedy in Gaza:
    Hamas stops shooting rockets at Israel.
    Why does your article not mention the obvious?
    All know and admit that Israel has superior military with regard to Hamas.
    So why don’t you suggest that Hamas stop hitting Israel?
    Is that too obvious?

    • The other obvious is why doesn’t Israel stop the occupation and stop their government’s apartheid policies? There are always more than 1 side to a coin. All sides must be considered if a lasting solution is to be found. Military strength is temporary. Review your history and you will discover this truth. What happens when Israel’s military power wanes, which it will as it surely as night follows day. Snother diaspora? Let us not be like donkeys trudging the dusty trails with blinders on. Let us all think long-term.

  4. Rebecca, not a word about Hamas rockets raining down on Israel? And not a word about Hamas using innocent civilians as human shields? The circumstances are a lot more complicated than you portray. But inasmuch as you advocate for a BDS campaign that seeks to abolish Israel, your one-sided propaganda is not all that surprising. Intelligent readers can see it for what it is.

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