Guest columnists: Rabbis stand against annexation of West Bank

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem in 2014. AP

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

We speak as rabbis in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts who oppose any unilateral annexation of the West Bank.

   We share our pride in a vision of Israel that aspires to uphold Jewish and democratic values. It is with these ideals in mind that we must speak out against annexation.

We write as rabbis from across Jewish denominations. We write as lovers of Zion and as dedicated champions of the people and state of Israel. All of us have spent time studying in Israel, living there, or leading congregational and community trips to further the connection between Jews in New England and the people of Israel. Many of us have relatives and all of us have friends residing in the Promised Land. We write this letter from a place of deep love.

We have worked to help our communities understand that our love of Israel is consistent with our support for human dignity. We have never wavered in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the sovereign state of Israel, the land of our origins. Any unilateral actions that extend Israeli sovereignty or annex additional lands in the West Bank without either providing for citizenship of the Palestinian residents or doing so in a framework of ongoing direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will cause direct harm to the Palestinian population and undermine Israel’s moral position.

We have been able to say for decades that Israeli governments have supported a two-state solution. Unilateral decisions only make any peaceful solution more difficult. In addition, making this decision at a time of great civil unrest in America will only further weaken the important bipartisan support we work hard to secure for Israel inside our congressional delegation and our state as a whole.

Our silence on annexation would only imply acquiescence. Therefore we are speaking out as rabbis and Jewish leaders to oppose annexation. Now is the time for the Israeli government to show restraint, and we pray it will be evident in the weeks ahead.

This letter was signed by 16 rabbis in Massachusetts. They include: Rabbi Yafa Chase, Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Keiner, Rabbi Justin David, Rabbi Edward Feld, Rabbi Jacob Fine, Rabbi Nancy Flam, Rabbi Andrew Hahn, Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz, Rabbi RiqiKosovske, Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, Rabbi Jeremy Master, Rabbi Jonathan Schechter, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Rabbi Rhonda Shapiro-Reiser and Rabbi Benjamin Weiner.