FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL — The Coalition for Jewish Values, which represents more than 2,500 Orthodox Jewish rabbis in American public policy, sent a letter to the Union for Reform Judaism, condemning that organization’s call for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza, warning that any such cease-fire would give Hamas terrorists the opportunity to regroup in their attacks against Israel.
“A ‘humanitarian pause’ would be anything but humanitarian—it would permit Hamas to regroup, rearm, feed their families and their allies, while the physical and emotional torment of the Jewish captives and their families continues unabated,” the coalition’s president, Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, and its managing director, Rabbi Yaakov Menken, wrote in a letter sent Thursday. “It would also enable them to murder more Jewish soldiers when the fighting resumed.”
In the letter, first obtained by The Daily Signal, Schonfeld and Menken note that Hamas holds more than 240 hostages in Gaza, according to Israel, “following the worst pogrom against Jews since the Nazi Holocaust.”
“Israel has imposed an entirely legitimate siege in order to effect the release of those hostages, and has begun to eradicate Hamas so that this genocidal terror organization no longer threatens Jewish lives,” the coalition leaders add. “These two things are not merely acceptable, but moral imperatives.”
Schonfeld and Menken say they were “shocked” to read the Oct. 27 statement, in which the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the American Conference of Cantors called for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza.
The Coalition for Jewish Values cites Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that a cease-fire now would “simply consolidate what Hamas has been able to do and allow it to remain where it is and potentially allow it to repeat” the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. The coalition also cites former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said, “People who are calling for a cease-fire now do not understand Hamas. That is not possible. It would be such a gift to Hamas … .”
“These statements rebuke your own,” Schonfeld and Menken write.
“Your statement briefly mentioned the 1,400 dead Israeli soldiers and civilians, devoted one paragraph to the hostages, and followed this with three paragraphs on the ‘innocent civilians in Gaza,’ telling the family, neighbors, and friends of massacred Jews how they should treat the family, neighbors, and friends of the terrorists responsible for this Nazi pogrom,” the coalition leaders add. “The vile barbarism of not only the terrorists, but … the other residents—men, women, and teenagers—who came from Gaza to loot and murder those left alive, went unmentioned.”
“Statements like yours embolden our enemies, and risk both further emotional torment to innocent families and further casualties among those forced to fight for our lives,” Schonfeld and Menken add. “If you cannot bring yourselves to speak for the rights of Jews victimized by inhuman barbarians without equivocation, it would be best to say nothing at all.”
The Union for Reform Judaism statement, unlike some statements calling for a cease-fire, acknowledges the Hamas terrorism and the hostages held in Gaza.
The Reform statement condemns the “unspeakable violence perpetrated on October 7 against Israelis” and notes that “more than 220 people, including babies, women, and the elderly, continue to be held as hostages by Hamas.” (The full number is about 245.) The statement calls on the international community to “universally and unequivocally call and work for the immediate release of all the hostages,” and condemns their “kidnapping and ongoing detention” as a “heinous war crime.”
Yet, as Schonfeld and Menken note, the Reform statement does spend three paragraphs focusing on “the tremendous toll this is taking on innocent civilians in Gaza,” calling for the “humanitarian pause” to “ensure that food, water, medicine, and other humanitarian aid can flow more quickly into Gaza.” The statement does not address how any authorities would prevent that aid from flowing directly to Hamas, which controls the government of the region and which frequently repurposes humanitarian relief materials to perpetrate its war against Israel.
The Reform statement also cites an ancient commentary on the week’s Torah reading to claim that Abraham feared “he might have killed an innocent person as he fought for” the release of his nephew, Lot.
Most practicing Jews fall into three sects: Orthodox Judaism, which emphasizes the teaching and practice of the Torah in a strict fashion; Conservative Judaism, which emphasizes what it considers rabbis’ right to significantly interpret Jewish law; and Reform Judaism, which emphasizes an evolving nature of Jewish tradition, prioritizing ethical norms over the ceremonial law. Reform Judaism often aligns with the Left.
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