Open Letter to SI Jewish Community

We as a people are tasked with tikkun olam - repairing the world, and the pursuit of Tzedek - justice.

Open Letter to SI Jewish Community

We write today as Jewish members of the Staten Island 4 Palestine Coalition. In the past few months, we have seen the growing protests across college campuses, with students demanding their universities divest from companies and institutions that collaborate with Israel’s ongoing genocide in Palestine. The news media and politicians have gone to great lengths to defame the protests as “anti-Semitic violent mobs” in need of arrest and expulsion. 

The Jewish students who have taken part in this protest tell a different story. In the encampments, Muslim and Jewish students prayed side-by-side. Jewish protesters held Seders and Shabbats, with volunteers from numerous Jewish communities and organizations providing them with food and supplies. Meanwhile, both Jewish and non-Jewish protestors were met with brutal violence at the hands of police and Zionist agitators, with thousands being arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights. 

Throughout Passover, Jewish people of conscience held Seders in the streets across the city to demand an end to this genocide, and to fight the media’s erasure of our voices. In Staten Island, we held a Passover Seder that included Jews and non-Jews across generations. We had elders who participated in the student protests against Vietnam, which was met with similar repression by the police. We know now, as they knew then, that we stand on the right side of history. We are the voices of the growing body of Jewish resistance against Israel and its crimes being conducted in our name.

But many in our community still stand in direct support or, worse still, direct collaboration in this ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Over the past few months, multiple synagogues across the city and country have hosted land sales by Israeli real estate organizations, doling out parcels of land brazenly stolen from Palestinian families. These land sales, crop burnings, and increasing settler violence and pogroms against Palestinians in the West Bank are not only a violation of international law, but also Jewish values. 

We as a people are tasked with tikkun olam - repairing the world, and the pursuit of tzedek - justice. You cannot repair the world with mass graves, man-made famines, and bombs. And you cannot pursue justice by standing with the unjust. 

The use of our religious and cultural institutions to promote and fund genocide and ethnic cleansing is an affront to all Jewish people. No synagogue must ever house illegal land sales and fundraising for mass murder. 

The most recent horrific massacres in Rafah, coupled with continued bombings in the north of Gaza and violent attacks by the IDF and Israeli settlers in the West Bank, put into perspective who this “war” is really against. It is clear the only plan Israel has for Palestinians is death and displacement. We call on our Rabbis, who we have always looked to for moral guidance and leadership, to take a stand against these crimes. We ask them to prioritize inconvenient truths over comfortable lies. 

We, as Jews of conscience in Staten Island, ask our wider Jewish community on the Island to speak to their Rabbis. To let them know that we deserve moral clarity from our leaders. We need them to do the following: 

1. Publicly call for an immediate, permanent ceasefire and the return of all hostages, including Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. 

2. Refrain from hosting or promoting any land sale of stolen Palestinian land in your synagogue. 

3. Begin channeling money to organizations providing famine relief in Gaza.

Only in this way can we begin to repair the world and pursue justice. We call upon our Jewish community in the forgotten borough to never forget that “never again”, means never again for anyone. 

Written by: Staten Island 4 Palestine - Jewish Contingent