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Jonathan Sacks speaks-to Palestinian supporters

Trafalgar Square

We are gathered today, not in triumph but in tears.

Nothing that has happened in Gaza needed to happen.

All it took to avoid all the suffering was for Hamas to end firing rockets on innocent Israeli civilians. That's all.
And let a voice go out today from here in Trafalgar Square, and from other gatherings today in Manchester, Paris and Washington - as it has gone out from Israel since the day it was born, 60 years ago:

We want peace.
Israel wants peace.
We who love Israel want peace.
No to terror -- yes to peace.
Let there be an end to bloodshed and hate.
Let there be peace.
We say to those who criticise Israel:
You want Palestinian children to grow up with hope.
So do we.
You want Palestinians to be able to live in dignity.
So do we.
You want Palestinian parents to have work, income, and a life for their families.
So do we.
When a great British Zionist, the late Dr David Baum, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics,
a man who lived in Bristol but asked to be buried, as he was, in Israel, in Rosh Pinah, sought to give expression to his hopes for Israel, he created a state-of-the-art child care facility. Where?

In Gaza.

He died on a sponsored cycle ride raising money for paediatric facilities in Gaza.

When one of the finest young men of our community, Yoni Jesner, was killed in a suicide attack on Tel Aviv bus, his family donated his organs to save life, one of whom was a seven-year-old Palestinian girl Yasmin Abu Ramila who had been waiting two years for a transplant.

We care about the Palestinian future. 
We care for Palestinian children.
We care about life. 

And that is why we say to Hamas, who for years, day after day, have been endangering the lives of innocent people:

Stop killing the Palestinian future.
In 2005 Israel withdrew from Gaza.

It said to the people of Gaza: the land is yours. The factories, the farms, the buildings our people built are yours. The aid you seek in building an economy is yours. That is when terror should have stopped.

Instead that is when the current wave of terror began.

The living nightmare for the people of Sderot and Ashdod and Ashkelon. A ceaseless rain of rockets injuring and killing young and old, the vulnerable, the innocent, who wanted nothing except peace.
There are young children in Sderot who have only known a life of living in bomb shelters.

Who can live like that?

When Jews built the land and state of Israel the land where our ancestors lived for 4000 years, they didn't want to fight with their neighbours.
They didn't want to spend a lifetime fighting war and fearing terror.
All they wanted to do was live.

And so we ask Hamas, and Hizbollah, and the countries that give them aid and arms,
Why do you want Israel to die?
Stop wanting Israel to die.
Start wanting your children to live.
There is one question that cries out for an answer.

Why, Hamas, do you hold in such contempt not just Israeli lives but Palestinian lives?

Why do you fire rockets from schools, store arms in hospitals, surround yourself with human shields?

Why have you consistently acted so as to maximise the death of innocent Palestinians?

In the words of Colonel Richard Kemp, (reported in today's Sunday Times), Senior military adviser to the British cabinet:

'Hamas deploys suicide attackers including women and children,
And rigs up schools and houses with booby trap explosives.
Virtually every aspect of its operations is illegal under international humanitarian law.'

The Palestinian future will begin the minute Hamas stops firing rockets on innocent Israelis; the minute they try to stop killing the people whom they see as enemies but who want to live as friends; the minute they stop endangering the Palestinian people by pursuing a policy that is blighting the Palestinian future.

Just say three words:
Yes to peace.
And a day will come when Israelis and Palestinians
Jews Muslims and Christians
the people of Sderot and the people of Gaza
will live together in peace
no longer fighting one another
but helping one another to live in freedom and dignity.
that day will come.

It could be a hundred years away
Or it could be today.

It's up to Hamas and the countries that give it arms.
And for the sake of Palestinian children, and Israeli children,
Let it be today.
But in the meanwhile we say,
Beloved G-d
The G-d we worship
The G-d of life who told us to sanctify life
Al Rahman, the G-d of compassion
The G-d of Avraham, Ibrahim, father of our several faiths
Show us the way to live your way.
The way of Salaam,
The way of Shalom.
The way of Peace.


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Hamas vs. Peace, it doesn"t work. Hamas doesn"t want peace and Islam doesn"t preach peace. What you want, Rabbi is to re-wire that "death worship" mind set to the Jewish "for life". That, Rabbi, is akin to trying to dye the ocean yellow. Perhaps that is easier.

Posted by E Feld on 2009-01-21 20:37:47 GMT

An excellent speech. What was the response?

Posted on 2009-01-19 04:23:07 GMT

optimism is always wonderful to hear but reality intrudes in this case - Israel and Israelis love life; "Palestinians" of all creeds love death for themselves,their children, Israel and Jews - never the twain shall meet in terms of real dialogue when there is only one partner for dancing

Posted by D Cohen on 2009-01-17 02:54:26 GMT

Now all we need is for the Mullahs in Riyadh and Tehran (or anywhere for that matter) to say something similar and all will be rosy. I won"t be holding my breath.

Posted by David on 2009-01-16 08:22:22 GMT

Is that speech spread out to the entire media around the world, or is kept under wraps? Every worthy newspaper should print this on the front page. But will they? NO!

Posted on 2009-01-16 08:09:40 GMT

This is a beautifully said, heartfelt and honest plea from the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth. The most striking feature of this speech is the profound contrast in content to anything that comes out of the mouths of arab/palestinian supporters who worship death and destruction of the other - be they Christian, Jews or other infidels. The core to this and every other Middle East conflict is the clash of cultures, the disparity between progress made over the centuries of the Judeo Christian religion and that of Islam. 1400 years ago Muhammad proclamated that muslims would fight Jews till the Day of Resurrection. Until the Day of Resurrection comes, Muslims are fighting an "unfinished battle" against the Jews. Nothing will change until their religion is reformed.

Posted by Franita on 2009-01-16 01:23:40 GMT