Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Our Revolution Cambridge is horrified and heartbroken by the recent violence in Palestine/Israel. Our thoughts are with all of the innocent victims affected, and we condemn all forms of violence against civilians, without reservation: Israeli’s 50-plus years of occupation and apartheid regime in Israel and the Occupied Territories, Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,200 Israelis, and Israel’s genocidal attacks against the civilian population of Gaza that have killed more than 14,800 Palestinians.

First, we welcome recent news of a temporary pause in the violence, which will help allow for the provision of humanitarian aid to the nearly 1.6 million internally displaced residents of Gaza and the return of some of the Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. We, however, recognize that Israel’s top ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defensive minister Yoav Gallant and foreign minister Eli Cohen, have committed to renewing the violence after the pause. Therefore the top priority must be enacting a permanent cease-fire and the continued provision of substantial humanitarian aid to residents of Gaza who have been undergoing immeasurable human suffering. Of the more than 14,800 Gazans who have been killed, two-thirds are women and children. At least 45 percent of the housing stock in Gaza has been destroyed or extremely damaged. Access to food, water, electricity, health care and fuel has been either extremely limited or nonexistent. Israel’s actions that have led to this humanitarian catastrophe are a clear example of collective punishment and a war crime.

In addition to an immediate cease-fire, we also call for the unconditional release of the more than 200 civilian hostages taken by Hamas, the taking of which is a clear war crime, and the unconditional release of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, many held without charge, by Israel. Our thoughts are with all families whose loved ones’ whereabouts are unknown and whose grief and pain are unimaginable.

We note that our call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and the release of hostages is not alone. It is the call of the United Nations General Assembly and the call of hundreds if not thousands of human rights organizations across the globe, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Doctors without Borders, Unicef, United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, Save the Children, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Federation for Human Rights and many, many more.

Second, while a permanent cease-fire is the most urgent step, we also urge all parties to recognize that the status quo cannot be maintained. We call for an immediate end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and its system of apartheid in Israel and the occupied territories. To this end, we demand the United States end its unconditional military aid to Israel, which contravenes the 1997 Leahy Laws that forbid U.S. support of war crimes. A just and lasting peace can come only after the occupation ends.

Third, we are extremely disappointed that our local Cambridge City Council did not pass – or even debate – a recent policy order supporting U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s cease-fire resolution.

Detroit; Providence, Rhode Island; Oakland, California; and Seattle have joined the internationally supported cease-fire calls and passed cease-fire resolutions. After hours of impassioned comment by our community, councillors had an obligation to deliberate about the order and look for common ground. Instead, they voted to cut off council discussion without debate and defeated the policy order with two votes in favor, none against and seven voting present. We call on the council to take up a new cease-fire policy order and for our community to take action to encourage Massachusetts’ federal delegation to push for an immediate, durable cease-fire by supporting Pressley’s resolution. We thank councillor Quinton Zondervan and Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui for introducing and supporting the cease-fire policy order.

Finally, we denounce ongoing attempts to censor or silence individuals and groups who express moral outrage through written statements or nonviolent protest at the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza. We reject the claim that opposition to Israel’s policies is antisemitism and note that many Jewish people around the world and in Cambridge oppose Israel’s policies. At the same time, we are alarmed by the increase in antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate crimes over the past month and oppose each of these forms of bigotry in Cambridge and around the world.

We urge the Cambridge community to support a call for peace and justice in Palestine/Israel while treating each other with empathy and compassion.

Carolyn Magid and Henry Wortis, Our Revolution Cambridge