Recently, we have watched with growing anguish and horror a new wave of violent attacks by Jewish Israeli settlers against Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. Mobs of settlers are entering Palestinian towns and villages armed with guns, gasoline, and the explicit aim of spreading chaos: they smash windows and set homes on fire – often with their residents inside. Settler attacks against Palestinians had already been rising during the previous Israeli government, but they have dramatically accelerated and expanded under the current government. We saw one of the most notorious rampages in Huwara last February. Last week, in the wake of a terrible terror attack by Palestinian gunman that killed four Israelis in the West Bank settlement of Eli, these attacks began taking place with greater ferocity and frequency, and there is little to no serious governmental action to stop them. As leaders of the American Jewish community, we cannot and will not stand idly by.
We, the undersigned, agree with the chiefs of Israel’s military, police and domestic security assessment in their recent joint statement: that these attacks by armed Israeli settlers on Palestinian communities amount to “nationalist terrorism in the full sense of the term.” We agree with Yair Lapid, who described the attack in Huwara as “a pogrom carried out by terrorists.”
It’s clear that this violence has not come from nowhere but is aligned with the Netanyahu government’s broader agenda of settlement expansion, deepening of occupation, and displacement of Palestinians. We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government to cease empowering, excusing or protecting those undertaking these attacks. We call for those who perpetrate these attacks to be brought to justice. Prime Minister Netanyahu bears ultimate responsibility for the policies deployed in the West Bank on his watch and for the chilul hashem, or desecration of God’s name, that has been unleashed in the form of these despicable violent attacks.
Americans for Peace Now
Jewish Labor Committee
Habonim Dror North America
National Council of Jewish Women
New Israel Fund
Partners for Progressive Israel
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism