Rabbi Brian Walt, 8/5/2003
Rabbi Brian Walt was the founding rabbi (1988) and till a month ago the spiritual leader of the Philadelphia Reconstructionist congregation Mishkan Shalom, which he led into becoming one of the most successful of Recon synagogues, with himself as one of the most beloved congregational rabbis in that or any denomination. He and his wife, also a Recon rabbi, have left Philadelphia so that she could become the rabbi of the only synagogue on Martha's Vineyard. The move also gave Brian the opportunity to greatly expand the very part-time work he was already doing as Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights/North America.
I am enclosing the letter he has just sent to an Israeli Cabinet Member concerning a sudden flood of home-demolition orders against Palestinian families. (There are no allegations of terrorist involvment in these families or homes.) I hope others will write in the same vein, as soon as possible.
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Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director
The Shalom Center
Dear Minister Poraz, firstname.lastname@example.org,
I am writing you this urgent letter, the day before Rosh Chodesh Av, to appeal to you to cancel the house demolition orders for Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. As a long time Zionist, a rabbi and one who cares deeply about the State of Israel and its future, I believe that these home demolition violate the values of our Torah and of Zionism, will provoke hatred, increase the cycle of violence, and endanger the security of the State of Israel.
For the sake of the security of the State of Israel, for the sake of the neshoma of our People, for the sake of the peace of Jerusalem, I appeal to you to cancel these demolition orders. I know that there are 6 demolition orders in Jabel Mukaber that are slated to take place tomorrow on Rosh Chodesh Av. How tragic will it be for us a Jews to be unnecessarily destroying the homes of other people at the very beginning of Av, the month when we painfully remember and mourn the destruction of our own Batey Mikdash! Mishenichnas av mamitim b'simcha, there is already so much sadness in our hearts for the years of Jewish suffering, let's not take any actions that will merely increase the sadne of others.
I know that these families may have built on to their house illegally and are technically in violation of the law, but as you know, it is almost impossible for a Palestinian families to get permission to add on to their homes. Moreover much of the land adjacent to Palestinian areas is designated as green zone so as to prevent expansion of Arab villages. Right alongside these houses are many new homes built for Jews. The policies that allow Jews to build and limit the building of Palestinians violates the State of Israel's commitment in the Declaration of Independence to create a a state "that is based freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex..."
I believe that our future and our security in Israel is dependent on our ability to create good relationships with the other people who live on the same land. If these demolitions take place tomorrow and others later thi month, I shudder when I think of what will happen in the hearts and mind of the children, women and men whose home has been destroyed by the bulldozers of the Jewish state. This action will undoubtedly infuriate them and create more bitterness and hatred. As such it decreases the possibility of peace and puts us all on a road map to more violence and destruction.
Please, for the sake of the Zionist vision and for the security of the State of Israel, stop these demolitions.
Thanks for reading my letter and may all of Israel find comfort in thi month of grief and mourning.
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbis for Human Rights North America