Letters of support from Holocaust Survivors, Israelis and other Jews
Letters of support from Jewish individuals, Holocaust survivors and
The following letters appeared April 25 in The Jewish Advocate.
"In Favor Of Divestment
I am one of thousands of American Jews who support the resolution for the United Methodist Church to divest from companies that aid the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
Contrary to your headline and some of the statements quoted in Lorne Bell's article, the United Methodist Church is not considering divesting "from Israel," but rather from corporations whose products support Israel's 40-year military occupation of Palestinian land and people.
Selective divestment from companies that profit from the occupation serves the interests of Jews in Israel and around the world, because it is a step toward ending the occupation and toward justice and peace.
I am a member of the increasingly large proportion of the Jewish community who appreciate that our Christian allies our standing with us against oppression.
It is simply not possible for authentic Jewish liberation to take place at the expense of another people -- the Palestinians.
That would entail destroying the basic meaning of being a Jew, and sacrificing the heritage of our prophets, who never stopped fighting oppression.
Refraining from profiting from the occupation of Palestinian land and dispossession of its people land is an excellent place to start.
So, I say "Bravo" to the mensches of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches who are standing with Jews as we engage in our old and hard-to-extinguish tradition of tikkun olam.
For more letters from Jewish individuals see http://www.investinpeace.org
|Statement on Divestment from Suzanne Weiss of Canada:
I wish to commend the United Methodist Church for its principled stand in opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in 2004, and to urge approval of divestment from companies that support that occupation. Ending the oppression of Palestinians is important for people of every faith.
The Jewish people of Europe have suffered, and were almost eradicated during the Second World War. Many of my family members were among those who died. But the Israeli government has set up a discriminatory and unjust system which evokes for me some of the methods used against the Jewish people by Hitler and his Nazi rule. The Israeli government steals lands and possessions, restricts the oppressed to poverty in walled ghettos, threatens them with starvation, and kills them indiscriminately.
The 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, and the recent attacks on the Gaza Strip; the wall that marks the evidence of expulsion of the Palestinians from their land; the forced closure of the Gaza power plant; the poverty and starvation that are being imposed on the Palestinian people — all this is catastrophic.
To my great chagrin, this is all done in the name of the Jewish people who are in fact victims of this situation. After all the Jewish people have suffered, they are inheriting the hatred of the world through the crimes of the Zionist government. To demand justice for the Palestinians is not anti-Semitic-- it is a cry for peace and love, and an end to racism and hatred.
We must stand firm against these crimes and employ the tactics of the world movement against South African Apartheid. Divestment is an important tool for ending Israel’s occupation.
I am alive today, like thousands of other Jewish children of the time, thanks to the anti-Nazi resistance in France. The resistance united people of many political persuasions and religious beliefs: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim.
Today we must join in a similar broad alliance, this time to defend the Palestinians and to oppose Zionism and imperialism. In doing this, we also strike blows against anti-Semitism. Israel’s aggressive policies are against the interests of Jewish people and Palestinians alike, all of whom have a stake in a peaceful and united Middle East. Palestinian liberation offers Jewish people in the Middle East the prospect of brotherhood and peace.
|Statement on Divestment from Abraham Weizfeld, Canada:
To the United Methodist Church:
I am able to lend my name to your campaign for disinvestment from Israel and its State institutions.
As a second-generation Holocaust survivor and conceived in the Breslaw refugee camp I find it a shame that Israel is taken to be representative of the Jewish People as a whole. This is still the case in spite of the 63% of Israelis who are calling for a negotiated ceasefire with HAMAS as well as the 47% of US Jewry who call for an end to the occupation as opposed to 43% who don’t.
I am signing as an individual and am asking the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians to compose a statement of its own as well. Although I am Co-Founder of the ACJC I will ask the Administration Council to act on its own.
70, avenue Duluth est
Montréal H2W 1G8
Letter from Hedy Epstein:
I am Jewish, a Holocaust survivor, because my parents, in their
great love for me, sent me on a "Kindertransport" to England on May 18,1939, thus, giving me life a
second time. My parents and other family members perished in camps in Vichy-France & Auschwitz.
A bit more about my background.
I arrived in the U.S.A. in May 1948, about the same time as Israel
became a state. On one hand I was happy that there was a place for
survivors to go to, who could not, or chose not to go back to their
place of origin. On the other hand, remembering my parents' ardent
anti-Zionism, I feared that no good would come of a land that, at that
time, belonged mostly to another people, the Palestinians, and was now
being set aside, primarily, for Jews. I was new in the U.S., new things
to learn, new impressions, and so Israel was on the back burner of my
|Statement on Divestment from Hajo G. Meyer, Netherlands:
Thoughts of a Holocaust Survivor
I am Dr. Hajo G. Meyer, born in August 1924 in Bielefeld, Germany. Because after November 1938 I was no longer allowed to go to a German school, I went as a refugee kid, alone, to the Netherlands in January 1939. Not only did I survive 10 months of Auschwitz but until I was 14, I lived in Nazi Germany and after that in occupied Holland. So I am one of the few living persons who experienced 12 full years of the most atrocious and fierce anti-Semitism of history.
I know what it means to be discriminated against, to be a pariah in society, to be impoverished, to be dehumanised - or, at least to be subject to the attempts of the surrounding society to dehumanise you. The attempt to dehumanise a certain group of people should never occur again towards any group, whether Jews or non-Jews.
In Auschwitz, I learned that any attempt to dehumanise a group of people dehumanises not only the victim but also the perpetrators. I promised myself that I would try never to become like my perpetrators.
I also refuse to belong to a group which is a perpetrator, and therefore I do not agree to allow the state of Israel to commit its crimes in the name of Judaism. Whilst Judaism is a millennia old doctrine emphasizing humanitarian values, Israel is a Zionistic state. Political Zionism means just one thing: to strive for a maximum amount of area in Palestine with a minimum number of Palestinians.
In order to fulfil this programme of political Zionism, Israel has become a perpetrator in the worst sense of the word. Besides its crimes against humanity it refuses to adhere to international law, to humanitarian law, to resolutions by the United Nations, to warnings from humanitarian organisations like the Red Cross or the World Health Organization or UNRWA, and therefore there's only one way to call Israel to order. That is, by a strict regime of boycott, disinvestment and sanctions from all nations, who still embrace the most important ideals of humanitarian behaviour. It is quite obvious, that any other sound or action is not heard or perceived by the rulers of Israel.
In consequence of all this I am fully behind the attempt of the United Methodist Church to disinvest from companies that support Israel’s occupation. Allowing Israel to behave towards the Palestinians as if they were not normal human beings just like us eventually will lead to an ever progressing dehumanisation of mankind.
The accusation from the side of Israel that the attempts of the United Methodist Church or of any other body or person criticising the political deeds of Israel are based on feelings of anti-Semitism is another falsehood which Israel promotes. It does this in order to pretend that it is still a victim whilst for many, many years it has been one of the main perpetrators in the world.
The world should shudder at the recent words of Israel’s deputy defence minister Matan Vilnay, who said on February 29,2008, that if the rockets from Gaza did not stop, the Palestinians would call upon themselves a Holocaust. He obviously used the Hebrew word “Shoah”, which is normally only used to indicate what happened to the Jews during the Second World War. It is unconscionable to hear this threat from an Israeli leader, followed by the killing of more than 100 Palestinians in Gaza. It shows why action against this state is urgently needed.
Be assured that many Jews, including myself, support your principled stand against the occupation. We join you in fighting against Israel’s racism and apartheid, and against linking the Jewish faith to these crimes.
Hajo G. Meyer is a member of the board of
|Statements of support from other Jews are located at
Statement on Divestment from Roni Kasrils of South Africa and Victoria Brittain of England:
Israel should face sanctions
Ronnie Kasrils and Victoria Brittain | The Guardian | May 19, 2006
Western leaders are frustrating democratic elections in Palestine by withholding aid, and using collective punishment, an economic siege and starvation as political weapons in their efforts to get the Hamas government to accept their terms of business with Israel.
Never in the long struggle for freedom in apartheid South Africa was
there a situation as dramatic as in Palestine today: even though
children were killed for resisting a second-class education; the
liberation movement's leaders were locked up for decades on Robben
Island; new leaders were assassinated; church leaders were poisoned;
house demolitions and forced removals were frequent; and western
governments told South Africans who their leaders should be, and what
their policies should be.
A recent letter initiated by Israelis and sent to the United Methodist Board of Church and Society states in part, “We assure the Methodist Church that it is no more anti-Semitic to criticize and oppose Israeli government policies than it was anti-American to oppose the Vietnam War or is anti-American to oppose the present war in Iraq. It is never anti-Semitic to oppose injustice, destruction, gross inequity, and inequality.”
With 132 signatures, the vast majority are from Jewish people in Israel. A few non-Jewish people and Jews living outside Israel have also signed the petition.
The full text and signatories are below:
To: James E. Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist Church Letter of support from Israelis to the
2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church
January 22, 2008
We, as Israelis, express our support of the 2004 resolution adopted by the General Conference of the Methodist Church that states “The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements and any vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings [Book of Resolutions, 2004, #12].” Should the Methodist Church in the wake of the above resolution elect to divest from companies that enable the occupation to continue, we the undersigned shall applaud your courageous initiative, and fervently hope that it will set an example for many others to follow.
We assure the Methodist Church that it is no more anti-Semitic to criticize and oppose Israeli government policies than it was anti-American to oppose the Vietnam war or is anti-American to oppose the present war in Iraq. It is never anti-Semitic to oppose injustice, destruction, gross inequity, and inequality. We also assure the Church that Israel, having the fourth most powerful military in the world, is in no existential danger.
As citizens devoted to the promotion of peace and democracy in the region, we denounce the international community’s continued economic investments in our country which directly and indirectly support Israel's daily violations of international law and colonization of the occupied
territories. We fear the potentially irreversible damage created by Israeli occupation, by Israel’s unilateral plans, and by the international community’s impotence in ending Israel’s occupation. We realize that Israel’s occupation of Palestinians and their lands will probably not end without international sanctions.
Moreover, Israelis, as well as Palestinians, will benefit from ending the occupation Symmetry never exists between occupier and occupied, oppressor and oppressed. Yet Israelis suffer from loss of life, increase in militarism, and a steady devaluation of human life. This latter is particularly evident in the socio-economic sphere and the affliction of post-traumatic distress.
Successive Israeli governments have spent enormous amounts of money on expansion, to the detriment of social benefits for the Israeli population. While it is true that had there been no occupation, Israeli governments might not have spent the money on social benefits, the fact that expansion continues apace alongside continued endeavors of ethnic cleansing reveals Israel’s intention to rid the West Bank of as many Palestinians as possible and to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state.
To this end, money is spent on maintaining a large military presence in the occupied Palestinian Territories, on erecting the apartheid wall at 4 million dollars a mile, with 400 miles planned (twice as long as if it had been built on the ‘green line’), and constructing more housing units in highly subsidized settlements. In December 2007, for instance, the Israeli Housing Ministry announced that it was building 300 more units on Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghnaim to Palestinians), with another 1000 intended, and more recently has begun construction of 60 homes in the Ras Al-Amud section of East Jerusalem. Israel claims Har Homa to be a part of Jerusalem, but the international community regards Israel’s construction on it and in East Jerusalem to be further illegal colonization of Palestinian land. Given the subsidies and other perks with which Israel lures Israelis to colonize the West Bank, it is small wonder that population increase in the occupied Palestinian territory is five to six percent, by contrast to the two to three percent maximum growth in Israeli communities within Israel proper. Israel additionally spends much on constructing super-highways for Israelis-only in the occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as for lookout towers (that can double as sniper towers), and checkpoints galore. Furthermore, the majority of the more than 500 checkpoints separate Palestinian communities from one another.
While all this is taking place at considerable economic cost, poverty in Israel has increased sharply. Israel in 2006 gained the dubious notoriety of having the worst poverty level in the Western world, and has retained this position through 2007. Over one quarter of Israelis now live under the poverty line. One of every three children goes to bed hungry. And every fourth elderly person is poor. No wonder, then, that many of Israel's elderly are “suicidal.” The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot revealed in a report that over 50 percent of suicides in Israel every year are committed by people aged 65 and over. And there are additional worrying trends. Not only are the few rich getting richer and the numerous poor getting poorer, but also many in the middle class who have jobs are sliding into poverty due to low wages. The Adva Center report of December 2007 showed that a fifth of Israeli wage earners are now living under the poverty line.
One result of the increased poverty is that 25% of Israelis forego medical care because they cannot afford it. 75% of the poor cannot afford medication. But of all the sad statistics, one of the more shocking is that over 80,000 Holocaust survivors—now mostly aged individuals--live in desperate straits. It is shameful that of all places in the world, in Israel, Holocaust survivors live in dire poverty and misery.
The worsening economic conditions contribute, in turn, to escalation of violence. Thus, for instance, one of every five elderly Israelis is subject to abuse, mainly by spouses or children. And the Israeli police recorded a 24% increase in violence among youth the first months of 2006.
A direct cost of occupation and a threat to Israel's welfare is post-traumatic stress, which can result in addiction to drugs and alcohol, and can also contribute to violence. A counselor at a rehabilitation center terms the malady “a ticking bomb," Help, he relates, is unavailable for many soldiers who have gone "into terrible distress of drugs, beatings, violence, impatience, ... soldiers who clashed with a civilian population, and when they were discharged understood that they had been wrong." Hundreds, he reveals, "are roaming about with the feeling that there is no point to living, and the path to suicide and drugs is very easy. We are afraid that former soldiers will commit criminal acts as a result of their distress."
On the Palestinian end of the occupation, the situation is far worse both economically and in terms of security. For Palestinians, occupation means a loudspeaker in the middle of the night ordering residents out of their homes, regardless of whether it’s winter or summer, hot or cold, wet or dry. Occupation means long waits at checkpoints, even in emergencies. Occupation means that one needs permits to go to one’s fields, permits that are often not given. Even when permits are given, the Palestinian farmer often finds that the military gates that control accessing his fields are closed and fail to open, and, for that matter, fail to open also for children on their way to school. Occupation means land theft and uprooting of olive trees, some of which are 100s of years old, all of which are means of sustenance for the Palestinian people, some now the only means.
Occupation means curfews, during which sick people can and do die. Occupation means that one’s home can turn into rubble in minutes, as bulldozers or explosives demolish it, along with its furnishings, toys, family photograph albums, computers, and all else. Occupation means imprisonment. Approximately 11,000 Palestinians are now incarcerated in Israeli facilities.
Israeli Occupation means apartheid. The separation wall is one instance; four additional ones are water, roads, home construction, and checkpoints. Of 960 million cubic meters of water that is generated in the West Bank, Palestinians are allowed to use only one-tenth of it. The rest goes to Israelis. On average, a Palestinian citizen in the West Bank is allowed to use no more than 36 cubic meters of water per year, while Israeli settlers in the West Bank can use up to 2,400 cubic meters. Palestinians are not permitted to drive on ‘settler’ roads, which are highly superior to other roads in the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestinians are not allowed to build houses or even to add rooms, while Jewish settlement building continues uninhibited. Checkpoints also discriminate. Israelis, tourists, and Jews from abroad can go from the Territories to Israel via many checkpoints, but Palestinians having permits are allowed to enter Israel only through 11 of them, forcing Palestinians fortunate enough to have a permit to travel far out of the way on their way to work or for medical care in Israel.
For the above reasons, we Israeli seekers of peace and justice express our sincere gratitude to the Methodist Church for its stand on the occupation, and support the proposals before the General Conference this April on divestment. Boycott and divestment are non-violent means of pressuring governments to change their policies--means now sorely needed to compel the Israeli government to end its occupation of Palestinians and their lands and thereby to better the lives of Israelis as well as of Palestinians.
131. Sue Small New Mexico
130. Kupferman Yehuda
129. Peretz Kidron
128. Neta Golan
127. Norah Orlow Jerusalem
126. Rotem Mor Mevaseret Zion Israel/Palestine
125. Eyal Hareuveni Jerusalem, Israel
124. Eddie Saar Israel
123. revital sella Tiv'on, Israel
122. Itai Ryb
121. Micha Rachman
120. Zohar Milchgrub West-Jerusalem
119. Pnina Feiler YAD- HANNA
118. Rachel Giora Tel Aviv
117. Ayelet Ilany Haifa, Israel
116. Jose vanleeuwen
115. Mira Saidi
114. Larry George
113. Shmuel Yerushalmi - poet Israel
112. Naama Farjoun
111. Ash, David 239 Stoke Newington Church Street
110. Bruce Eggum Wisconsin USA
109. ana cleja
108. Jason Kunin
107. yehoshua rosinh
106. Tikva Honig-Parnass Jerusalem
105. esther ouray
104. jonathan javanshir
103. Hanna Knaz Kibbutz Gan Shmuel
102. Karen Arter P.O. Box 7947, Santa Rosa, Ca. 95407
101. Adam Keller
100. Beate Zilversmidt
99. tal haran
98. ronnie barkan tel-aviv, israhell
96. William Greene
95. Emily Schaeffer Tel Aviv, Israel
94. Rosamine Hayeem London, UK
93. Udi Adiv Detrech Tzarfat 32, Haifa
92. Prof. Kobi Peterzil Haifa
91. ruth victor Jerusalem
90. Yali Amit
89. Hannah Safran Haifa
88. Haim Bresheeth
87. hava halevi 21 shimshom st. jerusalem 93501
86. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury
85. Lily Traubmann Kibutz Megiddo
84. Dr. Sara Fischman
83. galit hess
82. Ruth Tenne
81. ginzburg shaul
80. yifat doron
79. Janet Green
78. Ur Shlonsky
77. Alissa Ben-Ari
76. Noa Shaindlinger
75. Jaye N. White Fayetteville, NC
74. Eli Hamo
73. Yael Oren Kahn UK
72. racheli bar-or
71. Yisrael Puterman tel aviv
70. yasmin sivan
69. eytan lerner
68. Matan Cohen
67. Moshe Machover
66. Yotam Pappo
65. Itamar Shachar
64. Real Mazali Herzlia
63. David Nir Tel Aviv, Israel
62. Amit Ron
61. yoav barak Tel Aviv
60. aharon Shabtai 27 gruzenberg st. Tel Aviv, 65811
59. Adi Dagan Tel Aviv, Israel
58. Yael Ronen Beer Sheva
57. Elchounon Esterovitz
56. Amit Perelson Haifa
55. Jonathan Pollak
54. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein Jerusalem
53. Oded Goldreich Tel Aviv
52. Yossi Bartal
51. Dana Ron Tel Aviv
50. Haggai Matar Tel Aviv - Jaffa
49. Benjamin Rosendahl
48. Ellen Naor 3403 NE 80th St, Seattle, WA 98112 USA
47. Jacob Naor, Ph.D. 3403 NE 80th St, Seattle, WA 98112 USA
46. Linda L Golden 13827 Sandy Oak Rd, Chester, VA 23831
45. Dorit Naaman
44. Teddy Katz Magal, Israel
43. Mary Alice Nesbitt
42. Kfir Cohen
41. Gideon Spiro âãòåï ñôéøå Israel (Within the Green Line)
40. Amos Gvirtz Shefayim, Israel
39. Yael Lerer Tel Aviv
38. jake javanshir
37. Yvonne Deutsch Jerusalem
36. annelien kisch-kroon ramat hasharon , Israel
35. Ofra Ben- Artzi Jerusalem
34. Sandra Ruch Israeli in Toronto
33. noa schwartz tel aviv, israel
32. michal schwartz tel aviv, israel
31. Judy Blanc
30. Beatrice Eichten
29. Bilha Golan
28. tsilli goldenberg israel
27. ofer neiman Israel
26. Galit Kadan Toronto, Canada
25. Dalit Baum Tel Aviv
24. Susanne Moses
23. Roman Vater
22. DINA GOOR
21. Hanna Braun London; UK
20. Merav Amir Tel Aviv
19. Alla Nikonov š
18. kobi snitz haifa
17. Hillel Barak Haifa, Israel
16. ruchama marton Tel Aviv
15. Reuven Kaminer Jerusalem
14. Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta
13. Avishai Chelouche Pardes-Hana, Israel
12. Anat Matar
11. Jeannette Herzberg Israel
10. PNINA Feiler KIBBUTZ YAD-HANNA
9. Tamar Yaron Kibbutz Hazorea
8. Yael Korin
7. eileen fleming http://www.wearewideawake.org/USA
6. Paul H. Verduin Silver Spring, Maryland
5. Eldad Benary A Israeli in NY
4. Smadar Carmon
3. Eldad Benary A Israeli in NY
2. Israel Naor Herzliah, Israel
1. Dorothy Naor Herzliah, Israel
The Letter of Support from Israelis to the United Methodist Church Petition to James E. Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist Church was created by and written by Dorothy Naor
[also see Statements of Support from Jewish Groups]