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My Turn: Call for cease fire doesn’t amount to anti-Semitism

Reading Rabbi Robin Nafshi’s column (Monitor Forum, July 23) was a sad and painful experience for me.

On well over a hundred occasions, I have felt the concussion of rockets fired my way, and as a recent father, I can only imagine the fear and pain of having my baby with me under those conditions.

My heart goes out to Rabbi Nafshi, as it goes out to all parents who hold their children afraid that they might lose them to a rocket or missile. My heart also goes out to those who have lost loved ones in Israel and in Palestine. No parent should ever lose a child to violence, and with over one thousand dead in the conflict over the past few weeks, I pray as always for peace.

I have no interest in engaging in the dispute of facts about the conflict in the Middle East, which others have done in their own time and way.

However, I do want to dispute the Nafshi’s claim that New Hampshire Peace Action, the organization I have led as executive director for the past five years, is inciting hatred against Jews, or holds in its heart any form of anti-Semitism or prejudice.

Suffice it to say that our message has been, and will continue to be, that a cease fire needs to come immediately, that no more people should lose their lives in this conflict, and that a solution that holds the dignity, freedom and safety of all parties as a paramount concern should be sought without violence.

New Hampshire Peace Action’s philosophy is one which recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, regardless of ethnicity or religion. We do not espouse hatred of any group or individual, and we do not condone the use of violence by Hamas, by the Israeli government, or by the U.S. government.

Equating our call for a cease fire to anti-Semitism is unfair and untrue. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is not one of the top issues for N.H. Peace Action, but we do have a working group, the Palestine Education Network, which was also attacked as anti-Semitic in Nafshi’s piece.

The members of this group have dedicated themselves to exposing the people of New Hampshire to a human reality the American public seldom gets to see and hear. PEN works closely with Jewish Voice for Peace, American Jews for a Just Peace, B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Their stance, that the actions of the Israeli government, which have led to the deaths of over one thousand Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been disproportionate is consistent with that of almost every peace and Human Rights group on the planet.

The opinion that the government of Israel is not doing everything in its power to support a just peace is not anti-Semitism. It is an opinion shared by many thousands of Jews around the world, and many thousands of Israelis caught in the middle of this conflict who can see another way and who recognize that Palestinian children are no less real, no less innocent and no less human than their own.

So long as N.H. Peace Action exists, we will continue to advocate for an end to Pentagon waste, a more peaceful U.S. foreign policy, an end to the scourge of nuclear weapons, and to just and nonviolent solutions to our world’s problems.

We will continue to hold up the humanity of all people regardless of their race or nationality, and will continue to condemn the use of missiles and rockets to solve human problems no matter who launches them.

(Will Hopkins is an infantry veteran of the Iraq war, and the executive director of N.H. Peace Action.)

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