Opinion: Members of NH Jewish community write letter to NH congressional delegation

This picture taken from Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip shows an airdrop of humanitarian aid over the besieged Palestinian territory on Thursday, March 28.

This picture taken from Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip shows an airdrop of humanitarian aid over the besieged Palestinian territory on Thursday, March 28. Jack Guez/ AFP/ Getty Images/ TNS


Published: 04-15-2024 4:36 PM

Bob Sanders lives in Concord.

On a rainy April 10, I with the help of one other delivered a message on behalf of 67 New Hampshire Jews to the office of Rep. Annie Kuster in Concord, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, humanitarian aid, and cutting off additional unrestricted aid to Israel. (Copies were also dropped off at the Manchester offices of Rep. Chris Pappas, and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.)

I started this effort because many fellow Jews I know are aghast of what Israel is doing under the flag of a Jewish star but have yet to speak out as Jews. The anguish we felt after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack which killed 1,200 people is visceral. But since then, Israel has been killing on average 1,300 people a week. Imagine an Oct. 7 every week for six months.

After our first March 23 meeting, seven of us – soon to be eight – decided to write a letter, not just to our federal officials, but to the public at large and also to other fellow Jews, in the hope that they too would come forward.

We do this to counter the narrative that all Jews support what Israel is doing (though sadly many are) and that to criticize Israel is antisemitic.

One decided to remain anonymous because the blowback could affect his work. Others asked not to be highlighted because of their relationship with family members. We struggled over the wording, but at the end, we came up with final language on an Easter Sunday morning meeting, and gave ourselves until April 9 to collect signatures, because the situation was so urgent.

We hoped to double the number of names, maybe triple it at best, but we were just overwhelmed by the response from all over the state. Many of the signers had the same issues that we had. The need to speak out, however, was greater than the fear of the consequences.

Here is what we wrote.

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We, as New Hampshire Jews, are horrified by the atrocities Israel is committing in Gaza, backed by U.S. military aid. Incessant Israeli bombing and military action has killed more than 30,000 people, the majority of them women and children, and wounded tens of thousands more. These numbers don’t count many more deaths due to disease and famine caused by Israel’s intentional destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure, its blockage of the vast bulk of humanitarian aid, and its brazen attacks on hospitals.

We strongly condemn Hamas’s despicable and barbaric attacks on Oct. 7. Yet that horror does not excuse killing at least 25 times as many Palestinians, whether it be in the name of revenge or security.

Israel’s actions serve no long-term strategic purpose. For every actual Hamas terrorist killed, Israel is creating many more potential terrorists in their place. We understand Israel’s right of self-defense, and we vigorously oppose antisemitism, but Israel’s morally indefensible overreaction has only fueled Jew-hatred that is putting both Israel and all Jews at greater risk.

We ask that you as our United States Senators and Representatives work for three goals:

■An immediate and sustained ceasefire. Besides the importance of stopping the war, a ceasefire must lead to the immediate release of all hostages so they can be returned to their loved ones.

■Full humanitarian aid via UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). This group has been providing aid on the ground for years, and it is the only entity with the capability to reach the masses of people in need. Air drops and seaport shipments with no ground network in place simply aren’t enough to prevent mass starvation and a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions.

■Suspension of military aid to Israel for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. Our tax dollars and our weapons should not go to massacre any more people, especially children. By its reckless and brutal actions, Israel has forfeited the right to receive additional, unrestricted American military aid.

We, as Jews, know all too well that dehumanizing others can lead to unimaginable tragedy. When six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, so many people and nations said nothing. This history is why we cannot remain silent in the face of Israel’s conduct. We want to make it clear that this is not being done in our name. That is why we must speak out to end this war now.

Bob Sanders, Concord; Jonathan Baird, Wilmot; Joshua Meyrowitz, Durham; Sharon Racusin, Hanover; Ruth Abelmann, Durham; Ron Abramson, Bow; June Adinah, Contoocook; Arnie Alpert, Canterbury; L.R. Berger, Contoocook; Elliott Berry, Manchester; Ann C. Bliss, Portsmouth; Jessica Bolker, Dover; Marla Brettschneider, Portsmouth; Henry Bromberg, West Lebanon; Deborah Brown, Warner; Nancy Jo Chabot, Hopkinton; Stephen A. Cherry, Henniker; Burt Cohen, New Castle; Jonathan Cohen, Contoocook; Teresa Cohn, Durham; Hannah Darking, Cornish; Marcela Dorfsman-Hopkins, Durham; Mark Fischler, Thornton; Ruby Fogg, Contoocook; Harriet Forkey, Durham; Phil Ginsburg, Newmarket; Elizabeth Goldman, Dover; Amy Goldstein, Concord; Daisy Goodman, Lyme; Holly Grossman, Barrington; Ken Grossman, Barrington; Phyllis Heilbronner, Durham; Lori Hopkins, Durham; Philip Isenberg, Durham; Barbara Keshen, Concord; Donald Kollisch, Hanover; Dorothy G Krasner, Manchester; Emmanuel Krasner, Farmington; John M. Lewis, Durham; Ted Lothstein, Concord; Grace Mattern, Northwood; Andrew Merton, Durham; Adam Meyrowitz, Durham; Joshua Meyrowitz, Durham; Beth Olshansky, Durham; Briane Pinkson, Cornish; Ilsa Pinkson-Burke, Plainfield; Robert Racusin, MD, Hanover; Anne Romney, Portsmouth; Jack Ruderman, Contoocook; Susan Russo, Plainfield; Deborah Schachter, Concord; Mindy Schorr, West Lebanon; David M. Schwartz, Durham; Leslie Schwartz, Durham; Jed Siebert, Madbury; Betsy Small, Milford; Andrea Stein Goldsworthy, Portsmouth; Terry Sturke, Bow; Peter Taubman, Durham; Rachel Trubowitz, Durham; Judy Ullman, Portsmouth; Larry Vogelman, Durham; Andru Volinsky, Concord; Frank Weber, Mont Vernon; Jill Weber, Mont Vernon; Jane-Holly Weintraub, Mont Vernon; Leonard Ziefert, Enfield.

If you wish to add your voice, please contact Bob Sanders at bob.gns@gmail.com.