Open the Gates: A Rabbinical Response to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Tragedy

Dear Friends,

In the wake of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla tragedy, we once again feel the need to raise our voices as rabbis in the Jewish community.

According to press reports, we now know that 10 to 15 people have been killed and many more have been injured when Israeli Navy Seals boarded a boat that held 700 people in the middle of the night — conducting a military operation against civilian activists in the midst of international waters.

We also know that the essential aim of the Freedom Flotilla was to carry humanitarian aid to those who have been severely suffering under the effects of Israel’s crushing blockade of Gaza.  We call upon our community not to turn away in denial or blame those of good will and good purpose who risked their lives to relieve the beleaguered people of the Gaza strip.

We lift our voices and demand that Israel open the gates of compassion and allow these ships to dock so that they may deliver humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million citizens of Gaza.  In so doing, we note the overall context of oppression in which this incident has occurred and call upon the government of Israel to turn away from the policies of occupation, siege and indifference to international law.

Our silence now is an act of betrayal to the values we purport to live by and to the words of the prophet we read every Yom Kippur:

Is this the fast I desire?
A day for people to starve their bodies?
Or bow their heads like a bulrush
or wear sackcloth and smear oneself with ashes. . .
No!  This is the fast the Lord desires:
Unlock the fetters of oppression
Untie the cords of the yoke
Let the exploited go free, break off every chain.
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the poor in your own house
clothe the naked and do not ignore your own kin.

As rabbis, we believe all human beings are our kin.  We cannot abide the suffering inflicted upon the people of Gaza.

We lift up our voices and say: Unlock the fetters of oppression.  Untie the cords of the yoke.  Open the gates.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Alissa Wise
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
Rabbi Marjorie Berman
Rabbi JB Sacks
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi David Mivasair
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
Rabbi Chava Bahle
Rabbi David Mivasair
Rabbi Eyal Levinson
Rabbi Nina Mandel
Rabbi Margaret Holub
Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh
Rabbi Rebecca Lillian
Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman

This statement was first published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, on 1 June 2010.  For more information about FOR, visit <>.

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