Israelis, Palestinians Must Stand for Decency and Sanity Against Forces of Darkness

July 7th, 2014

The shocking and appalling events in Israel and the occupied territories in the past week have shaken the consciences of Israelis and Palestinians of goodwill and all those around the world who care about peace in the Middle East. And now, with dozens of rockets being fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and villages in the south, the chances of a serious military escalation are very real.

We demand peace, not violence.
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Over the past week, we have seen the barbaric murders of four teenagers, street violence and incitement, arrests, home demolitions and the vicious beating by Israeli police of a youthful protester who is a US citizen. We have also seen a constant stream of rockets aimed from Gaza at Israeli civilians and retaliatory Israeli air strikes. Despite efforts by Egypt and others to broker a ceasefire, the rockets keep coming -- and the attacks increased in intensity on Monday.

We recognize Israel’s right to protect its citizens from indiscriminate rocket attacks but urge targeted actions that avoid to the greatest possible extent civilian casualties.

The past week has also given us a few inspiring moments of hope, like the phone call between Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of the slain Israeli teenager Naftali Fraenkel, and Hussein Abu Khdeir, whose 16-year-old son was murdered last week in a revenge killing by Jewish extremists. Neither family wants to see more innocent victims. Neither should anyone.

Responsible leaders, whether political, religious or social, should take their cue from these two bereaved families who have spoken so eloquently. Yishai Fraenkel said it best. “There is no difference between those who murdered Muhammed, and those who murdered our children. Those are murderers, and these are murderers. And both must be dealt with to the full extent of the law.”

Leaders on both sides must resist the temptation to further politicize the situation. This is not a time to notch propaganda points or apportion blame on the other side. But this is also a gut-check moment for Israelis and Palestinians alike, who must come to grips with the alarming strain of racism, cruelty and lawlessness within their societies that have been tolerated for far too long.

Now is the time to end incitement and take a firm stance against racism, hatred and intolerance. Neither side can afford any longer to turn a blind eye to the extremists within their midst.

That's why we're encouraging our supporters to add their voices to a new Facebook page, “Peace, Not Vengeance” to demonstrate that the forces of peace far outnumber the supporters of hatred. We encourage you to sign on and encourage all your friends and contacts to join as well.