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The occupation is at the heart of the stream of painful headlines coming from Israel

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A statement from Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association:

The headlines concerning Israel during the month of May were painful. Israel’s supreme court issued a ruling that authorizes the razing of several Palestinian villages and the forcible eviction of over 1000 Palestinians from the Masafer Yatta region in the West Bank. Some of these evictions have already begun. In addition, Israel’s government approved over 4,000 new housing units for settlers in the West Bank despite American and international objections. May 2022 also saw violence against Israelis, including a mass-stabbing attack in the Israeli town of Elad in which two Palestinians murdered three Israelis. All this happened before the tragic shooting death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and before her funeral procession in which Israeli police used batons to batter participants. (We support the Committee for the Protection of Journalists’ public call for a credible investigation of the shooting through an internationally led probe.)

We join with those in Israel, the United States, and around the world who are speaking out forcefully against these events, and against the ongoing occupation that provides the context in which these moral catastrophes continue. To quote a group of former Israeli soldiers, “We know first-hand that the occupation is tearing at the moral fiber of Israeli society; it is a stain on the ethics and values of the Jewish Diaspora as well. We believe ending the occupation is a crucial first step for a peaceful and just future.” Our movement has been on the record for decades now in support of these views. In 1988, the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation warned of the “corrosive effect” of the occupation on “the democratic nature of Israel and on its moral fiber.” And yet, the occupation remains the elephant in the room, the framework of systemic injustice in which an asymmetrical cycle of violence and hatred repeatedly plays itself out. To support Israel is not tantamount to supporting the occupation; indeed, we need only look to the thousands of brave Israelis engaged in a daily struggle to establish a shared society based on democracy, equality, and dignity for a reminder of that fact.

The news of recent weeks is frightening and demoralizing, but this is not the time to lose hope. One thing members of Reconstructionist communities can do now is to contact their elected officials to urge them to implore Israel’s government to halt and reverse its planned eviction of over 1000 Palestinians from their villages in the Masafer Yatta region in the West Bank. We can also let our officials know that we oppose plans to expand West Bank settlements. Israeli peace and justice organizations are lobbying their government vigorously on these matters. We call upon diaspora Jews to amplify their efforts and help them achieve their goals.

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