One Community, Many Voices

(If you want to add your name to the statement please scroll to the bottom)

Statement of Principles:

Ve-ahavta le-re`acha kamocha: Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

September 5, 2014

1)    We, members of the Los Angeles Jewish community, write to express our anguish and sorrow over the loss of life and scale of destruction in the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza. We condemn Hamas’ war-time tactics, especially its disregard for the residents of Israel, many of whom lived in a state of terror as rockets rained down on them. At the same time, we are acutely aware of the destruction inflicted by Israel in Gaza. In thinking of the violence from this latest conflict, we affirm the ancient wisdom of the Mishnah that “whoever destroys a single life, it is as if s/he destroyed an entire world.” (Sanhedrin 4:5)

2)    Hovering above all—above all questions of tactics and strategy—are the dead children, nearly 500 Palestinians and 1 Israeli. The loss of one innocent life is intolerable. The loss of many hundreds of innocent lives demands a moral accounting, alongside any other inquiry that must be conducted into this war. Especially as we enter into the season of Teshuvah, it is imperative that we look into our souls and not rest quiet until we understand how this massive loss of innocent lives could have taken place. We insist that it not happen again.

3)    As deeply as we are connected to Israel, we reject the demand often heard in the Jewish community, especially in war-time, that we support Israeli policy without dissent. All too often, criticism of Israel’s policies is treated with incivility. Similarly, we reject the lack of compassion and denial of profound suffering of human beings on the other side of the divide. We believe it is an obligation of all Jews to contribute to humanitarian relief in both Israel and Gaza as a reflection of our commitment to our own people and to the neighbors with whom we must find a way to live together in peace.

4)    We urge our friends, colleagues, and, above all, rabbis in the Jewish community to undertake a profound rethinking of the way they manifest “support” for Israel. Unreflective support perpetuates the myopia that leaves too many of us insensitive to the suffering of our Palestinian neighbors and cousins. At the same time, the kind of unreflective support that was on display in the latest Gaza war does not serve Israel’s best interests, but rather reinforces the extremist tendencies that threaten to undermine its democratic core.

5)    We are distraught that this is the third cycle of conflict between Israel and Gaza since Israel’s unilateral exit from the settlements in Gaza in 2005. Each conflict brings more destruction and deepens the enmity and frustration between the two sides. We believe that the blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2007 has contributed to an intolerable economic, health and humanitarian situation for its residents and should be removed, with appropriate supervision to be set in place to ensure that the material brought in be for civilian use only.

6)    We call upon Israelis and Palestinians, and especially their leaders, to eschew the all-too-familiar path of violence and opt instead for one based on mutual respect for the rights and dignity of the two peoples.

7)    We call on the Jewish community to come together in groups during this season of teshuvah to discuss the war and ways to exit the ongoing cycle of violence—and to do so in a spirit of comity even when differences exist among us.

8)    If you are interested in finding a discussion group near you, please contact Jessica Marglin at


Rabbi Lewis Barth

Dr. Joan Beerman

Rabbi Leonard Beerman

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak

Prof. Leah Boustan

Prof. Ra’anan Boustan

Prof. Aryeh Cohen

Georgianne Cutter, LCSW

Prof. William Cutter

Prof. Reuven Firestone

Prof. Jeffrey Helmreich

Andrea Hodos

Steven J. Kaplan

Dr. Lee Lainer

Luis Lainer

Prof. Baruch Link

Teri Cohan Link

Prof. Jessica Marglin

Douglas E. Mirell

Prof. David N. Myers

Rabbi Sanford Ragins

Prof. Hilary Schor

Prof. Dan Simon

Rabbi Ruth Sohn

Prof. Nomi M. Stolzenberg

Prof. Irene Tucker

Prof. Roger Waldinger

Sandy Weiner

Barbara Wettstein

Prof. Howard Wettstein

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One thought on “One Community, Many Voices

  1. Our (Jewish) leaders, especially synagogue, need our support. The ney sayers scream the loudest. Do they know that we exist, that there is another point of view, one for acknowledgement and respect for the other? “Love thy neighbor as thyself” . . . maybe we should start liking ourselves.

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