The governor and Israel

The governor and Israel

We’re appreciative and grateful for Governor Murphy’s consistent commitment to the New Jersey Jewish community. And since October 7, he’s shown his support for Israel and demonstrated compassion and decency on several occasions.

That notwithstanding, his claim last week that an immediate ceasefire will “…help pave the way for meaningful stability in the region, and set us on a path to a two-state solution, which will ensure long-term peace and security for Israelis, Palestinians, and the entire Middle East,” is deeply concerning.

And false. From the numerous conversations I’ve had with clergy and community leaders, the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community believes that the governor missed the mark with his statement, and by doing so dismissed our community’s concerns and priorities.

All decent Americans share the perspective that wars are horrific, that human suffering is awful, and that innocent Palestinians are suffering terribly in this war. Decent Americans would and should also note the absolute evil that the Hamas rapist-torturer-kidnapper-murderer squads brought with them when they broke the ceasefire on October 7 and initiated this war. Any observer with decency and clarity would conclude that this war is Hamas’s responsibility and Hamas’s fault, and that Hamas has inflicted unspeakable suffering upon the Palestinians and Israelis.

Not only that, but Israel’s citizens are forced to live with an additional double standard: tens and tens of thousands are still refugees from their own homes, as frequent missiles and rockets from terrorist groups still threaten their existence. Any objective and fair observer would see this as a war crime, and no country would tolerate such a reality. Israel should be no different.

What Governor Murphy and others should recognize is that the future of Israel – and the balance of the free world – depends on the eradication of Hamas from Gaza. This is not just Israel’s fight. It is a fight for decency, for civilization, and for the future of the West.

It is all too easy to see pictures of suffering and leap to false conclusions. And it takes a level of effort to understand the complexity of the situation. Considering the historical narrative, the present-day facts, and the hopes for a peaceful future, the only conclusion any fair observer could draw is that Israeli leadership has a responsibility to confront and eliminate the absolute evil that is Hamas. The Allies in 1945 didn’t stop at the entrance to Berlin and hope that everything would turn out fine; when you’re faced with absolute evil – an evil that has committed itself, time and again, to attack Jews and Israelis without pause – you have an obligation to protect yourself, rid the world of that evil, and free your hostages.

As a demonstration of my love for Israel, my desire for the immediate return of the hostages, and my commitment to a peaceful future for the state of Israel, I’m proud to stand among the leaders of the five main Jewish federations in New Jersey and together with six dozen New Jersey synagogues, institutions, and agencies to articulate the Jewish community’s dissatisfaction and look forward to meeting with Governor Murphy to help him understand the implications of his statement.

Dov Ben-Shimon is the executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey.

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