Chicago Jews tell former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to stop justifying the killing of civilians
Contact: Benjamin Chametzky
Phone: (618) 319-3462
WHEN: HAPPENING NOW (Thursday, August 21st, 2014. 7:00 p.m.)
WHERE: Chicago Hilton & Towers, Grand Ballroom. 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60605.
WHO: Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago, local chapter of large and growing grassroots network of Jews organizing in solidarity with Palestinians against the injustice perpetrated by the Israeli government. Participants include both American Jews and Israelis.
Members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago will disrupt the Jewish United Fund’s celebration of Israeli war crimes perpetrated during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza. JVP members will repeatedly interrupt the featured speakers throughout the event, denying injustice an uncontested platform in our community. As Jews we direct shame and rebuke toward the event’s organizers and the featured panelists, who include former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren and an Israeli soldier who has served in Gaza.
Jewish tradition compels us to not only shun injustice, but to openly rebuke those who practice it. Israel’s most recent attack against the Gaza Strip has killed over 2000 Palestinians, a majority civilians, yet Michael Oren and the Jewish United Fund have been unflinching in their support. Reported Israeli war crimes include the targeting of fighters’ family residences, the bombing of civilian infrastructure and UN buildings, and the leveling of whole neighborhoods and towns throughout Gaza. Omer Hecht, a participant in the action who served in Israel’s armed forces, describes Israeli actions in Gaza as “collective punishment for political gain.”
“Israel is committing war crimes with brutal and destructive force against some of the poorest and most disenfranchised people on earth,” Hecht said. “As a Jew and as an Israeli, I cannot stand idly by. As an American and resident of Chicago it is my duty to stand up and say, no more! Not in my name!”
All the while, the JUF has remained silent about Palestinian suffering. JUF is shirking the duty to call out gross immorality and must be held accountable. Furthermore, the ostensibly charitable fund has devoted resources to promoting Israel’s geopolitical agenda, coordinating rallies and deploying Israeli talking points in its materials.
“JUF claims to represent Jews, but they’re in denial about the growing numbers of us who support Palestinian rights,” said Michael Deheeger, a JVP protestor who left work in the Jewish non-profit world over programming complicit in oppression of Palestinians. “As an American Jew, I stand up to say shame on Israel for war crimes and shame on the Jewish United Fund for its silence. The way forward for the Jewish community is solidarity with the Palestinian call for a nonviolent, global, boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.”
For his part, Oren served as ambassador during the 2009 Gaza War, which killed over one thousand Palestinians. As a 2011 UN commission accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians, Oren and other top Israeli officials should be facing international war crimes trials, not touring and raising money over dessert. People like Oren and his supporters will meet growing rebuke from Jews across the world if Israel does not end its illegal, 47-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, guarantee equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and provide a just settlement for all Palestinian refugee populations.