Updated Statement on Israel & Gaza from Boston Workers Circle

Boston Workers Circle’s origins are based in the belief that the future of the Jewish people is bound up in a shared future with our neighbors wherever we were. Our founders believed that Jewish liberation and safety are tied to the liberation and safety of all people. This underlying principle undergirds our social justice work and has long guided our communal approach to Israel/Palestine. 

In the aftermath of Hamas’s brutal attack on October 7th our community came together in grief and heartbreak; we continue to mourn for the Israeli dead and yearn for the safe return of those who are still being held hostage. And as people of conscience, we hold that Palestinian lives are equally as precious as Israeli lives.

Many in our community, and Jews beyond our community, have felt confused, outraged, and heartbroken by many American Jewish institutions’ unambiguous support of the Israeli government’s actions. Some too have felt unsure of their place in the pro-ceasefire movement, uneasy with some of the messages used, and concerned about rising antisemitism. Together, as a community, we will continue to grapple with these questions,  listen to each others’ perspectives with resilience, and support each other to take action for justice in a way that centers the  humanity of all. 

In October, BWC joined the call for a negotiated ceasefire, rooted in our Israel/Palestine principles and historic values; months later, this situation could not be more urgent. We have continued to experience perpetual, daily heartbreak, as Israel has embarked on one of the most destructive bombing and siege campaigns of the 21st century, killing over 31,000 people, including at least 12,300 children as of  mid-March 2024. In Gaza, the loss of human life, especially of children, is almost unfathomable. But so too is the loss of Palestinian infrastructure that supports that life: hospitals, universities, farms, orchards, museums, mosques, churches, and other cultural heritage sites, and of course, homes, of which over 70% have been destroyed.

On January 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a ruling, which we will include in part below. There is a range of opinion among our members about the meaning and interpretation of the ICJ’s reference to the 1948 Genocide Convention. What should be clear, however, is that the atrocities documented in the ICJ case need to stop immediately, and compel us to take action in line with our Jewish values. 

The ruling included: six provisional measures, ordering Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent genocidal acts, including preventing and punishing incitement to genocide, ensuring aid and services reach Palestinians under siege in Gaza, and preserving evidence of crimes committed in Gaza. The United States, as a signatory of the 1948 Convention, is complicit and has a responsibility to make sure Israel complies with the six provisional measures. 

Beyond the destruction of Gaza as outlined by the ICJ, we recognize violations of Palestinian human rights and of International law have been ongoing for decades, such as the illegal settlements in the West Bank, administrative detention of Palestinians, including children, and the long-standing blockade of Gaza. US laws call for military assistance to be stopped or reduced in the face of “gross violations of human rights” or the restriction of delivery of US humanitarian assistance, such as we are now seeing daily in Gaza.

As a community, we have refused to play into the false binary that either you support Jews by unequivocally supporting Israel, or you support Palestinians. We know that as with all people, our destinies and our liberation are tied together. We know that there can be no real “security” for one people, while mere miles away another is being starved, massacred, and forcibly expelled from their homes.

Every day the violence continues, more and more precious lives are lost, and the nightmarish conditions in Gaza grow more and more unimaginable. Every day the violence continues, we find ourselves farther away from our vision of a future of equality, freedom, and safety for all Palestinians and Israelis. 

With an ongoing commitment to that vision, we reiterate our call for the US government to use its leverage to ensure: 

  • A lasting ceasefire agreement
  • The freeing of hostages,  political prisoners and administrative detainees 
  • An end to the siege of Gaza 
  • An end to US military aid that contributes to Israel’s violations of human rights and/or International Law
  • Compliance with the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ
  • The restoration of US funding to UNRWA 
  • A political solution that ensures equality, safety and self determination for Palestinians and Israelis

We see alliances as vital when acting for change. And we recognize that allied groups may use different terms to describe what is happening. We will not allow these differences to prevent us from working with groups currently acting towards our shared goals and vision for the future. As a community, we will continue to join liberatory, pro-democratic movements of all kinds working toward a besere velt, a better world, and a just and lasting peace.

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