Within the last few weeks Princeton University students voted to determine if the university should provide an alternative to Sabra-brand hummus. A group of Rutgers students recently invited Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, to speak. Livingstone is known for having accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and refusing to apologize after comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard. And at a New Jersey high school a week later, students engaged in an unpleasant debate over whether Israel has the right to exist.
These three events are linked to hundreds more taking place all over the planet. In Spain, only one country — Israel — was excluded from a gay pride parade. A couple of weeks ago, UNESCO proclaimed that Rachel’s Tomb is “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Eight months ago Jose Aznar, former prime minister of Spain, created a new initiative — Stand for Israel — built on the premise that Israel is a sovereign country and that its right to exist should not be questioned. He states that the growing drum beat proclaiming Israel as a rogue state is dangerous not only for Israel but for western democracy in general. Recently, Aznar stated he is collecting major support for his initiative. Many of our elected congressional leaders have also pledged their support for his initiative.
It is clear that we all need to take action; sitting on the side lines is no longer acceptable. Therefore the Community Relations Committee of the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ created a petition (www.ujcnj.org/StandforIsrael). We submitted this petition to our Rabbinic Cabinet and circulated it to all the congregational rabbis in MetroWest. Many rabbis circulated the petition to their congregations. In addition, we widely circulated the petition to UJC members.
To date we have roughly 1,200 signatures, far fewer then our original goal. The petition campaign will be closed at the end of the year, then it will be given to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. These signed petitions reflect our support for the State of Israel. Currently there is strong support for Israel in the U.S. We cannot take this for granted.
Co-Chair, CRC Israel & World Affairs Committee