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Do Jews Support
War Crimes?

Henri Picciotto, April 11, 2002

On April 10, 2002, I was arrested in front of the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, along with 15 others. The demonstration was organized by A Jewish Voice for Peace, and was attended by about 200 people, mostly American Jews. The two slogans of the action were "Jews to Bush and Sharon: End the Occupation Now!", and "Security for Israelis Requires Justice for Palestinians." The next day, the Tikkun Community organized another rally in front of the consulate, and asked me to speak. The following is, more or less, what I said.

I want to thank the Tikkun Community for inviting me to speak at this rally, and for Rabbi Michael Lerner's and Cornel West's courageous act of civil disobedience in Washington DC today.

I am a Mizrahi Jew. As my parents used to say: "We're oriental." I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and came to the US after the 6-day war. In 1982, I saw the country where I grew up ravaged --in my name-- under the leadership of Ariel Sharon. Since then, I have been a peace activist. I am a member of the Coordinating Committee of A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Yesterday, I got arrested with 15 others at the JVP action, right here at the Israeli Consulate. We were secular and religious, women and men, gay and straight, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and Sefardi, and of all ages. The youngest was a college student who led us in singing songs in Hebrew. The oldest was a Holocaust survivor who said "I didn't survive World War II to see my people do to another people what the Germans did to us."

It was not easy to get arrested.

We closed the consulate, they didn't arrest us.

We joined the 200 demonstrators outside, and closed the building, they didn't arrest us.

We had to block the street to finally get arrested.

They didn't want to arrest us because they didn't want our message to get out. Our message was simple: "Jews to Sharon and Bush: end the occupation now" They didn't want the world to know that American Jews do not support this occupation.

When we speak out like this, we are always told that no matter what, Jews will support Israel.

Of course, Jews support Israeli civilians' right to live free of terror.

Of course, all of us are horrified at suicide bombings.


Do Jews support the demolition of homes while the families are in them?

Do Jews support cutting off the water supply and electricity for an entire town for a week?

Do Jews support the blocking of ambulances?

Do Jews support the mass murder of civilians including women and children?

Do Jews support round the clock curfews while dead bodies decompose in people's homes?

If they do, it makes me sad and ashamed.

And frankly, if they do, it's all the more reason for us, the Jews who do not support these war crimes, to speak out and break the silence!

Don't be afraid, speak out!

Speak out as Jews!

Speak out to Jews! Let your rabbi know what you think!

Speak out to the world!

Don't be afraid that speaking out would "hurt Israel".

It is our silence that hurts the Israeli people and Jews everywhere.

It is our silence that builds anti-Semitism.

Get organized -- join the Tikkun Community, join A Jewish Voice for Peace.

Visit our Web site. Come to our meetings.

Subscribe to our newsletter along with 1800 other Bay Area Jews.

Help us host refuseniks in the Bay Area, invite them to your synagogues and Jewish Community Centers.

Join our campaign to suspend military aid to Israel until the end of the occupation. Bush could stop these horrors in one day. If he told Sharon that the US was suspending military aid, the occupation would end immediately. As one of the signs at this demonstration puts it: enough lip service!

We are a supportive, action-oriented organization. We get things done. Join us.

Our other message at yesterday's demonstration was: "Security for Israel requires justice for Palestine". So we inaugurated this chant:

Justice for Palestine!

Peace for Israel!

Justice for Palestine!

Peace for Israel!
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