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Over 500 Staff at Over 140 Jewish Organizations Call for Gaza Ceasefire

“[N]either Jewish safety nor Palestinian liberation can be achieved if they are pitted against one another.”

President Joe Biden holds a press conference following a solidarity visit to Israel, on October 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv.

Over 500 workers for over 140 U.S. Jewish organizations are calling for President Joe Biden to support an immediate end to the violence in Gaza, in a new letter effort announced Thursday.

The staffers write in an open letter that freedom for Jewish and Palestinian communities can only come by pursuing lasting peace in Palestine, rather than allowing Israel to continue its genocide in Gaza that has killed over 17,000 Palestinians in just two months.

The letter calls for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages and a commitment to pursuing a long-term diplomatic solution. The letter was first reported by NBC.

“Our hearts are heavy for Israelis and Palestinians who have suffered brutal loss of life, for whole communities that have been destroyed and displaced, for millions of children who deserve so much more than this,” the letter says. “The price is too high to pay, the burden too much to bear. This violence must stop.”

The letter writers cite their faith as a reason for their advocacy, raising Jewish teachings about the significance of individual lives.

“We know there is no military solution to this crisis. We know that Israelis and Palestinians are here to stay — neither Jewish safety nor Palestinian liberation can be achieved if they are pitted against one another,” the letter says. “We know that freedom for one people cannot be reached through the oppression and killing of another. We know that Israeli and Palestinian safety is deeply intertwined and that no one wins a forever war. The only way to lasting peace and security is through diplomatic means that move us towards an equal and just future for all.”

One letter signer, a worker for a Jewish museum in Washington who remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation, told NBC that he was risking his job by signing the letter but signed it nonetheless. “If I lose my job over this, well, I honestly don’t want to work at an institution that wants to fire me over my views of Israel,” he told the outlet. “These people who are helping run and keep alive our Jewish community are taking a stand at great risk by signing this letter. It has made me both incredibly hopeful and fearful.”

The worker, who had grown up attending Jewish schools and youth organizations and spent his career working for Jewish groups, noted that there is a generational divide between younger and older Jewish people in terms of Israel. This echoes a generational divide on the subject across the country, with a recent NBC poll finding that 70 percent of voters aged 18 to 34 disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of Israel, compared to 56 percent of voters overall.

“If you are isolating an entire generation of American Jews, who is going to be the next generation of leaders and donors and members?” the museum worker said.

The letter comes as antisemitism and Jewish identity have become a focus of debates on Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza; as many Jewish people have spoken up against Israeli leaders’ genocide, political leaders have sought to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism, a move that anti-Zionist advocates say is dangerous and risks sidelining actual antisemitism that is growing across the U.S., especially among the right.

At the same time, the movement for Palestinian liberation has undergone a massive resurgence in response to the horrors in Gaza, with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine organizing massive protests for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation.

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