A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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‘Let’s take a close look at the open letter’s assertions’

On Dec. 6, the Jewish Light published a letter signed by 75+ Jews who expressed concern with the organizations that raised them and quoted “facts” regarding the war between Israel and Hamas. Below is a response to some of the points in the letter.

Claim: Civilians killed in Gaza. 

The Associated Press says 15,200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza; 70% were women and children. These numbers come directly from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (PHM), controlled by Hamas, which has a history of inflating the number of casualties and which denies that any of the people killed were combatants. For example, the PHM said that over 1,000 people were killed in the Al Ahli hospital explosion and the Jabaliya refugee camp bombing; however, the actual number was less than 100. Additionally, the Israel Defense Forces report that at least 5,000 of those killed in Gaza were Hamas terrorists, and that the ratio of combatants to civilians is “tremendously positive” given the challenges of fighting in a densely populated area. (CNN, https://tinyurl.com/5n7j54a5)

It is tragic whenever civilians die. Unfortunately, that is the nature of war. An estimated 432,000 civilians were killed by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries after 9/11. Why weren’t there any public protests at that time? (Watson Institute, Brown University, https://tinyurl.com/43k5sps2) 

Claim: Around 80% of Gazans have fled their homes. 

Before Israel began bombings in Gaza City, they advised civilians to evacuate to Southern Gaza, to minimize civilian casualties. The IDF has protected Gazans who wish to evacuate; however, Hamas actively prevents them from evacuating, instead using them as human shields. Hamas has constructed elaborate military compounds underneath Gaza City, even inside schools and hospitals. The only way to destroy Hamas is to destroy the infrastructure of Gaza City, which unfortunately, necessitates the displacement of the local population. Hamas knew this when they attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Claim: “The violence by Israel onto the Palestinian people…is a continuation of 75 years of violence…”

The situation of the Palestinians is indeed tragic, but the underlying question is, who is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people? In order to answer, it is imperative to recognize the following three truths:

1. There was an equal exchange of Jewish and Arab refugee populations beginning in 1948 and throughout the 1950s.

In 1948, approximately 800,000 Palestinian Arabs either left or were driven out of their homes in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Around the same time, approximately 800,000 Jews either migrated, fled, or were expelled from Muslim-majority countries where they had lived for generations, including Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Iran. (Wikipedia, https://tinyurl.com/mrxkkur3). Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel were initially housed in refugee camps and were eventually resettled in permanent housing. However, the Arab refugees have not been resettled to this day. 

2. The U.N. is responsible for resettling refugee populations; however, in the case of the Palestinians, they have abdicated their responsibility and instead, created a situation designed to perpetuate the suffering of the Palestinian people and their descendants.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deals with refugees all over the world and helps them resettle in new countries. The only refugees not under UNHCR are the Palestinians, who are under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). For non-Palestinians, the term “refugee” only applies to the refugees themselves and not to their offspring. However, for Palestinians, the “refugee” status is passed down through generations, and includes the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the refugees. That is why there are many more Palestinian refugees today (over 4 million) than there were in 1948. Instead of helping solve the Palestinian refugee problem, the U.N. is making the situation much worse. (Wikipedia, https://tinyurl.com/ydsys2hs.)

3. Over the years, Israel has proposed numerous solutions designed to give the Palestinians a state of their own and to permanently end the conflict. The Palestinian leadership has rejected all of these proposals.

(Vox) Although any one of these proposals would have ended the conflict, by far, the most comprehensive was the proposal by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former U.S. President Bill Clinton at the 2000 Camp David Summit, which envisioned a Palestinian state on 92% of the land in the West Bank and 100% of the land in Gaza. Unfortunately, it was rejected by Yasser Arafat, the former leader of the Palestinian Authority. Since then, Israel has continued to offer alternatives, which have also been rejected and have been followed by bloody intifadas (uprisings) leading to the murders of many Israeli civilians.

The signatories of the letter desire a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, without calling for the return of Israeli hostages as a precondition. They ignore the fact that Hamas has a long history of breaking cease-fires, including the cease-fire that existed on Oct. 6. Hamas has stated publicly that they will use any cease-fire as an opportunity to regroup, and they intend to carry out additional attacks similar to those of Oct. 7. If Israel were to stop its campaign in Gaza and leave Hamas intact, there would be no way to prevent future massacres. The only way to ensure that such atrocities will never again take place is to permanently disable Hamas.

To those who signed the letter: Over 1,200 of your brothers and sisters were raped, tortured, beheaded, burned, and brutally slaughtered on Oct. 7. Hundreds were attending a music concert — exactly the kind of concert that many of you enjoy. Some of you may have known one of the victims, Gili Adar, who was a camp counselor at Camp Ben Frankel. Many women who attended the concert were repeatedly raped until their bones were broken, and in many cases, their breasts and genitals were mutilated. I ask you, how do you think Israel should respond?

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