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Why Israel must end the occupation: an open letter to Israeli political leaders

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A soldier guards a gate to an Israeli settlement. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/יורם שורק

The following is an open letter written by some members of the Canadian Jewish community and recently delivered to the consul general of Israel in Toronto.

Dear Consul General of Israel,

This June, the State of Israel marked the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. Historically, this was a war of necessity for Israel’s security and resulted in access to essential holy sites. Today, however, another consequence is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and military rule of its Palestinian residents.

We are writing as Jews who love Israel and care about its future. We urge the Israeli government to embark on the road of peace by returning to fair and just negotiations to end the occupation, for Israel’s sake.

We admire Israel’s incredible achievements over the past 69 years, but are very concerned that the 50 years of occupation is disastrous not only to the Palestinians, but also to Jewish Israelis. Israel’s Declaration of Independence sets out a legal and moral framework of basic human and civil rights for Israel to guarantee. Today, these values are under attack and threatened by Israeli government policies.

Specifically, settlement construction in the West Bank and continued disenfranchisement of, and military rule over, Palestinians, constitute major obstacles to peace and endanger the very fabric of Israeli democracy. Recent Israeli settlement policies raise concerns about violations of its own, and international, law.

Of key importance is that the ongoing occupation leads to more bloodshed and cycles of violence that undermine the hopes of most Jews and Palestinians, in the Middle East and the Diaspora. The great danger is that a two-state solution may no longer be possible unless there is a commitment to end the occupation, and a shared desire for peace.

Of particular concern to those of us in the Diaspora is the troubling ambivalence of young Jews in our community toward Israel. Increasing numbers feel alienated because they view the occupation as unjust and as a violation of their moral and democratic values. Hasbara campaigns cannot, and do not, justify the ongoing occupation. Losing the support of the younger generation is dangerous to the future of the Jewish People.

We ask that this letter be forwarded to the prime minister of Israel and the minister of foreign affairs, requesting a response as to the concrete steps the Israeli government will take to stop settlement expansion and make tangible progress toward a negotiated resolution that results in both Israelis and Palestinians living within their own sovereign states.

With great respect,

Barbara Landau, SISO Canada representative and chair, JSpaceCanada Shared Society Initiative
Gabriella Golliger, chair, Canadian Friends of Peace Now
Karen Mock, chair, JSpaceCanada
Issie Lyon, board member, Canadian Friends of Peace Now
Jacqueline Swartz, board member, Canadian Friends of Peace Now
David Brooks, board member, JSpaceCanada
Danny Schild
Maurice Green
Helen Poizner
Beverly Stern
Harold Chapman
Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg
Mary Chapman
Joe Goldfinger
Daryl Landau
Jo Anne Chisholm
Nicole Landau
Linda Litwack
Deborah Cherry