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The Rabbinical Council of America Condemns Gaza Flotilla Provocations that Led to Violence and Loss of Life  
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Jun 2, 2010 -- The Rabbinical Council of America regrets the unnecessary violence and loss of life aboard one of the six ships in the Gaza-bound flotilla that sought in recent days to break the Israeli embargo of Hamas-ruled Gaza. This unfortunate incident could and should have been avoided, or at the least been brought to a peaceful and humanitarian conclusion.

But let us not for a moment misunderstand who is responsible for this entirely regrettable incident. The Israeli naval commandoes boarded the ship to enforce a blockade consistent with international law, necessary to prevent the smuggling of missiles and rockets into Gaza, which have repeatedly been fired at innocent Israeli civilians. They were armed only with paint guns and side arms under orders to not fire unless their lives were in danger. Five ships were taken without incident. They only resorted to deadly force on the sixth ship after they were attacked by a lynch mob armed with knives, axes and slingshots and were fired upon. For weeks prior to this event, Israeli diplomats pleaded with Turkey and others to arrange for the peaceful and lawful delivery of the humanitarian supplies on board, just as the approximately one million tons of similar supplies have passed into Gaza through Israel since the embargo began. Prior to boarding the boats the Israeli Navy repeatedly urged the flotilla to dock in Ashdod, and warned them not to try to break the blockade, but these appeals were ignored.

Given these facts, responsibility for the deadly outcomedoes not lie with the Israeli leadership that has repeatedly reached out to the Palestinian people (even now via the US-sponsored Proximity Talks, which those behind this latest event likely tried to undermine) in search of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Where responsibility does lie, is with the organizers of the flotilla including Turkey's IHH International Relief Fund, an organization with links to extremist Islamic groups. By their own admission they were primarily motivated by the desire to break the Israeli blockade and thus sought a violent confrontation. And it lies with Hamas who aided and abetted the goals of the flotilla, so that they could the more easily in the future break the blockade and rearm Gaza to resume its murderous attacks on the citizens of Israel. And more broadly yet, it lies at the door of the cynical orchestrators of the world-wide campaign to delegitimize the one and only Jewish state, a state that allows people of all faiths full freedom of religious and civic expression, and is an unparalleled model of humanitarian concern and support all over the world.

In light of these developments, there should be no rush to judgment of the actions of Israel. We are confident that a full review of the facts will make it clear that Israel, far from using disproportionate force, in fact acted with remarkable restraint, that few other countries would have used if faced with a similar provocation. Israel and her Defense Forces are fully capable of carrying out such a review, and the evidence will surely emerge in due course into the light of day.

We call upon the government of the United States to stand by its strategic ally and partner, the State of Israel, that in turn stands arm in arm with the U.S. in our shared confrontation with world-wide Jihad. In light of these events, we call upon elected officials all across the land on all levels to intensify their solidarity with Israel in whichever context it would apply. And we call upon good men and women of conscience to not be misled by those who would distort the truth, whether in the media or on the Internet, but instead to stand up for what is right, proper, and fair.

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