Holocaust survivors condemn Israeli 'genocide' of Palestinians

Salma El-Saeed, Monday 25 Aug 2014

Open letter from over 300 signatories slamming Israeli offensive on Gaza comes in response to pro-Israel advertisement run in prominent US newspapers

Anti-Israel Jews
Orthodox Jews hold anti-Israeli signs during a demonstration against violence in the Gaza strip outside Downing Street in London August 23, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Over 300 Holocaust survivors and their descendants have responded to a pro-Israeli advertisement recently published in several prominent US newspapers by releasing an open letter condemning Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip and calling for an end to the "ongoing genocide" against the Palestinian people.

In the letter published on Sunday, the 327 signatories called for "an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people" and "the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel."

The signatories also denounced the United States for its role in financing Israel's attack on Gaza and other western states for defending Israel's actions.

"Genocide begins with the silence of the world," the statement said.

The letter was released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), an organisation that describes itself as "uncompromisingly committed to struggles for human emancipation, of which the liberation of the Palestinian people and land is an indispensable part."

IJAN also opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, which the pro-Palestinian body says is based on exploitation and contradicts the history of Jewish persecution.

The letter comes in response to an advertisement co-written by US Jewish activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel – also a Holocaust survivor – and the US's most prominent Jewish rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, both of whom condemned "the Hamas death cult" for using Palestinian children as human shields.

The ad also called for "the American public to stand firmly with the people of Israel who are in yet another struggle for survival," adding that Israeli soldiers are forced to choose between harming human shields and allowing their own people to be harmed.

Although it was rejected by The London Times due to its opinions being "too forcefully made," other newspapers including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal ran Wiesel and Boteach's advertisement.

Hamas lauded the statement from the Holocaust survivors, with the movement's spokesman Fawzi Barhoum calling it proof of Israel's "crimes of genocide" as well as "the fallacy of the Israeli narrative and lying of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," as reported by Egypt's state-run news agency MENA on Monday.

"The statement represents a crucial contribution to mobilising international public opinion for the advantage of the Palestinian people," Barhoum said.

Since the beginning of the seven-week Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, 2,122 Palestinians have died – among them roughly 500 children – with more than 10,000 others injured. On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed.

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