WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 400 Jewish leaders, rabbis, and Holocaust and genocide scholars have signed a public statement denouncing accusations that Israel has committed genocide in Gaza.
The statement was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, based in Washington, D.C. It follows a July 9 claim by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Israel is “committing genocide,” an August 1 assertion by Fatah foreign affairs spokesman Nabil Sha’ath that the situation in Gaza is “a Holocaust,” and an August 1 accusation by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan that Israel is guilty of “Hitler-like fascism.”
“The Holocaust was the deliberate, systematic mass murder of six million innocent Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators,” the statement by the 400 leaders notes. “By contrast, Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense against Hamas terrorism. Israel has no interest in harming innocent civilians, and indeed has done its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, whereas Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians. Any comparison between Israel and the Nazis outrageously distorts Israel’s actions and trivializes the enormity and nature of the Holocaust.”
The signatories include:
• Prominent figures in the American Jewish leadership, including David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee; Jerry Silverman, president of the Jewish Federations of North America; Cindy Chazan, vice president of the Wexner Foundation and the former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford; Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg and Prof. Walter Reich, past chairman and past executive director, respectively, of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; and leaders of the American Society for Yad Vashem, the Simon Wiesenthal Center; the National Council of Young Israel; the Religious Zionists of America.
• Leading rabbis from coast to coast, including Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein of Kehilath Jeshurun; Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America and former spiritual leader of Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford; Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple (Los Angeles); the presidents of the New York Board of Rabbis; Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi, Jewish Community of Poland.
• Prominent Holocaust scholars, including Prof. David S. Wyman, author of the best-selling The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945; Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, author of History on Trial; and Prof. Michael Berenbaum, former research director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
• Academic notables such as Prof. Jonathan Sarna, chair of Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program; Dr. David Berger, dean of Yeshiva University’s Revel Graduate School; and faculty members at numerous other universities, including the directors of the Jewish studies or Holocaust studies centers at several universities, among them: the University of California-Berkeley; Florida International University; Indiana University; Fairfield University; Brooklyn College; and UCLA Hillel.
• Noted Jewish commentators, including Leon Wieseltier, of The New Republic; Prof. Gil Troy; and Rabbi Dov Fischer.
Among the 400 Jewish community leaders, rabbis and educators, were the following signatories from Connecticut: (Institutions are listed for identification purposes only)
• Leslie Katz Crotty, immediate past president, B’nai Israel – Southbury
• Rabbi Richard Eisenberg, Beth El Synagogue – Torrington
• Risa Filkoff, president, Beth Sholom B’nai Israel – Manchester
• Rabbi Jon Haddon, rabbi emeritus, Temple Shearith Israel – Ridgefield
• David G. Hill, MD, president, B’nai Israel – Southbury
• Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz, Temple Sholom – Greenwich
• Rabbi Michael G. Kohn, Temple B’nai Abraham – Meriden
• Suzanne Lieber Meyers, board member, Temple B’nai Israel – Southbury
• Rabbi Stacy Offner, Temple Beth Tikvah – Madison
• Rabbi Richard Plavin, Beth Sholom B’nai Israel – Manchester
• Rabbi Eric Polokoff, B’nai Israel – Southbury
• Mike Rosen, board member, B’nai Israel – Southbury
• Prof. Gavriel Rosenfeld, director, program in Judaic studies, Fairfield University
• Leonard D. Ross, board member, Temple B’nai Israel – Southbury
• Prof. Richard L. Rubenstein, president emeritus, University of Bridgeport
• Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen, Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel – New Haven