Australian Jews condemn Israeli ground attack on Gaza

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Over 100 Australian Jews, including two authors and a federal minister, have condemned Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip. They describe the action as "inhuman" and "abominable."

The 113 signatories are members of a group known as Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV). The group acknowledged Israel's right to defend itself.

Antony Loewenstein, the groups founder, told The Age that he expected outrage from the loudest Jewish voices. But the IAJV had found a sizeable minority of Australian Jews who valued an independent perspective as opposed to the blindly pro-Israel position.

"However, since Palestinians have no means of self-defence against the most powerful military force in the Middle East. We particularly call on Israel to end its brutal assault on the vulnerable Palestinian people of Gaza and to reconsider its rejection of the United Nations Security Council's call for a ceasefire," the statement said.

"History has demonstrated that military punishment has never broken the spirit of a people or produced peace," added the statement.

"It would only inflame hatred of Jews and of Israel, while doing nothing to protect the lives of Israelis. Above all, it would undermine attempts to work with peace-seeking Palestinians for a lasting, just solution."

Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said the statement was up to Mr Loewenstein's "usual form — totally wrong on every fact, totally unbalanced, and totally insensitive to Israeli suffering".

"They propose that the population of southern Israel must continue to live under constant rocket bombardment, opposing all practical efforts to actually invoke the right to self-defence the signatories say they recognize," he said.