The text of the letter makes plain the fundamental misapprehensions of its signatories who see the “underlying causes” of the conflict as Israeli “occupation” and the “siege” of Gaza, as well as the failure to reach a two-state solution.
“Are the denominations who signed this letter aware that Israel completely withdrew from Gaza nine years ago? It even uprooted every single Jewish settlement community there, yet was rewarded with relentless terrorist attacks,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Are the signatories unaware that governance of Gaza was assumed by Hamas, which is doctrinally and violently opposed to the two-state solution?”
The letter urges “lifting the Gaza siege” as a priority of U.S. foreign policy. This, however, is clearly not the solution to ending recurring bloodshed because unconditionally ending blockade measures would allow the further, unfettered mobility of armaments and Palestinian terrorists. The denominations’ letter ignores Hamas’ indifference to human life among Palestinians themselves, demonstrated in its corrupt use and abuse of Palestinian civilian infrastructure to attack Israelis.
“Why would these denominations pin the cause of the conflict on Israel, America’s key democratic ally, yet ignore those complicit in the atrocities carried out by Palestinian terrorists,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Repeatedly over the past week, rockets have been uncovered at U.N. schools in Gaza and cross-border infiltration tunnels were revealed to have been constructed with imported materials, not to mention the indiscriminate firing of rockets putting innocent Israeli civilians constantly at risk. Those civilians also include a Christian community that, unlike elsewhere in the region, is free and continuously growing.”
B’nai B’rith objects to the signing of the letter by a few groups associated with the Catholic Church, such as Pax Christi, in disregard for the pope’s own far more careful and responsible approach to the tragic and complex conflict in the region. He and his predecessors have called for recognition of Israel’s right to exist in secure boundaries, something that Hamas and similar groups openly reject.
We commend those churches not signing on to this unbalanced and unjust letter. One such denomination, though, the Presbyterian Church (USA), did direct its members to call on Congress to conduct an “examination into how U.S. military aid to Israel is being used” and pointing to the “illegal military occupation—including the blockade on Gaza” as a “root cause” of the hostilities. B’nai B’rith is confident that this one-sided, out-of-touch approach is not shared by a majority of Christians in America, and many others worldwide.