Over 48 hours since Hamas launched a shock terrorist onslaught against Israel, the J Street community is reeling from the full scope of the nightmare that has unfolded and the full extent of the losses.
At this time, over 700 Israelis have been killed and more than 2,300 wounded in the unprecedented infiltration of terrorist gunmen into communities near the Gaza border and the barrage of indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli cities. Over one hundred Israelis – men and women, elderly people and young children – have reportedly been taken hostage inside Gaza, creating an extended agony and trauma for their families, for the entire country, and for the diaspora. We know that a number of US citizens are among the dead, wounded and kidnapped. We know that this all began on one of the most sacred and celebratory of Jewish holidays, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.
Hamas’ heinous, murderous attack is a gross violation of international law and constitutes an abhorrent crime against humanity. This is one of the most shocking massacres in the history of Israel, and indeed in the entire history of this century. The horror and pain is difficult to process and comprehend.
As respected Israeli human rights attorney Michael Sfard has written, “We have been watching for over a day a crime against humanity being committed on a large scale by Hamas against the citizens of Israel.”
We are appalled to have seen some organizations, commentators and politicians find ways to excuse, justify or even celebrate these horrific crimes against Israelis. And we are appalled to see others use these events as an excuse to make hateful, racist generalizations against and about the entire Palestinian people, or to promote wanton, retaliatory violence against civilians.
In this time of profound anguish, with Israel in a state of war and national emergency and conflict still raging on both sides of the Gaza border, with other fronts already in a vulnerable state, we stand in solidarity with the Israeli people and with the Israeli armed forces that have been battling desperately to protect them. We support Israel’s right to defend its citizens from this barbaric attack, in accordance with international law.
We are deeply worried for the safety of the Israeli people, including the hostages now in Gaza, as well as for the safety of the Palestinian civilians who are now caught in the crossfire – with hundreds of people now reported dead and over 2,500 wounded in Gaza amidst intensive Israeli airstrikes and a full cut of electricity, gas, water and food to the Strip.
As a movement of pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans, we support the Biden Administration as they take all necessary measures to aid, support and reinforce our Israeli allies, as they combat Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and guard against the threat of further attacks on additional fronts.
As a community, our priority right now is to lend whatever support and assistance we can to the medical workers, first responders and other critical organizations and activists doing the vital work of assisting victims on the ground. Here at home, we are focused on supporting and caring for one another as we struggle to process our grief over what has happened and our fear over what may be yet to come.
We are compiling on our website a non-comprehensive list of organizations doing critical work on the ground. You can find more information about these organizations and how to donate directly to them on this page.
As this crisis unfolds, as we support the struggle to confront and defeat Hamas, we will continue to do all we can to promote our long-term vision for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a negotiated end to the occupation of Palestinian Territory, and a future of genuine security, self-determination and equality for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
The events of the past two days have made this brighter future feel farther away and more difficult to pursue than any of us could have feared or imagined. And yet, they have also reminded us that the ongoing nightmare of violence and conflict facing millions of innocent Israelis and Palestinians cannot and must not be tolerated, accepted or managed. We must never give up hope even in the face of evil and suffering, and must do everything in our power to help find another way forward.