August 21, 2014
Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement today in response to Hamas’ violation of the latest cease-fire agreement and the murder of American journalist James Foley by ISIS:
"Despite Hamas' decision to breach yet another cease-fire agreement and the horrifying news of the murder of American journalist James Foley by ISIS, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) remains committed to peace and a better future for all people of the Middle East. The news of the past 48 hours reminds us that far too many innocent Muslims, Jews, and Christians are being terrorized by extreme Islamist terrorist groups. From the Christians, Kurds, and Muslims threatened by the barbarism of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, to the people of Gaza trapped under Hamas’ cynical rule, we join all decent Minnesotans and Dakotans in expressing our tremendous sympathy for the suffering of innocent people everywhere.
"It is important to remember that despite the current violence, Israel remains deeply invested in peace. Specifically, for a chance at peace, Israel gave up all of the Sinai to Egypt. It is why Israel made peace with Jordan, left Lebanon, and withdrew from all of Gaza in 2005. It is also why Israel works daily in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank on security issues for both Israelis and Palestinians and to aid in the economic development of Palestinian communities. And it is for this sake of peace that Israel agreed to multiple cease-fires with Hamas over the course of the past month. Cease-fires which Israel agreed to despite the fact that as is the case with the current one, Hamas so readily violates them and notwithstanding the brutal truth that Hamas remains committed as enshrined in their founding charter not just to the destruction of Israel, but to the murder of Jews no matter where they live.
"Peace, however, is a two-way street. Accordingly, which nation would agree to negotiate while its citizens come under relentless rocket fire from terrorists? Moreover, which government would not respond to the deliberate targeting of her cities, towns, and villages by over 300 rockets in the span of two days? As famed Israeli novelist and peace activist Amos Oz recently noted, 'I never believed the ultimate evil in the world is war. In my view the ultimate evil in the world is aggression, and the only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force.' We agree.
"Returning to the unimaginable cruelty of ISIS and the murder of their captive, American journalist James Foley, it is critically important to appreciate that ISIS is not an aberration. Rather, like ISIS, Hamas represents the same nihilistic and murderous extremism which seeks to subjugate the entire Middle East. As such Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is completely correct in his observation that, ‘Hamas is ISIS. ISIS is Hamas. They are the enemies of peace. They are the enemies of Israel. They are the enemies of all civilized countries. And I believe they are the enemies of the Palestinians themselves.' The sooner the world sees Hamas for what they truly are, the better life will become not just for Israelis, but for Palestinians as well."
The JCRC… the public affairs voice of the Jewish community fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice, promoting tolerance and social justice, and representing Jews, individually and collectively.