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Jewish Labor Committee Statement on Gaza

January 9, 2009: The Jewish Labor Committee deeply mourns the loss of innocent life and expresses its sorrow for the suffering in the escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel.

Hamas has sent thousands of rockets of different ranges over the border into Israel, including those that can strike Israeli cities as far as Ashdod. These attacks have been launched by Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and has over two years violated the de facto cessation of hostilities with Israel.

Israel has taken great lengths to avoid this sort of escalation, including an appeal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Arab television to stop the firing of rockets and mortar shells so that a military response could be avoided. No country can be expected to tolerate continuous and unrelenting attacks against its civilian population. With a terrorist group engaged in active warfare and an international community that failed to intervene, and with Hamas formally ending the cease fire that it regularly violated, Israel was left with no choice but to defend itself and dismantle Hamas's ability to launch more missiles.

Hamas's deliberate placement of its rocket launchers and operations facilities in and close to mosques, schools, and homes, even though Gaza is densely populated, endangered Palestinian civilians and tragically resulted in increased numbers of civilian casualties.

We are encouraged that Israel is continuing to supply humanitarian aid of food, water and medicine into Gaza, and to allow relief agencies to supply material to the suffering people of Gaza. These efforts must be expanded as much as possible under the circumstances.

The Jewish Labor Committee affirms its support for the working-men and women in Israel and Palestine and their labor unions who seek a peaceful life for themselves and their families. We note the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions for their cooperative programs across the Green Line and their work together toward peace. We support efforts of Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists to maintain contact in the midst of this crisis despite living under personal threat and witnessing the death and injury of their friends and family.

We urge increased engagement of trade unions with their counterparts on all sides of this conflict to improve the lives of working people in Israel and Gaza, build grassroots trust, and enhance the peace process.

After nearly eight years of disengagement, on the part of the current U.S. Administration, we urge the incoming Obama administration to actively engage in the peace process in order to help bring about a two-state solution and a lasting and just peace.