A charred and heat-warped photo of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and his family.
The baby and father have now died; the mother is in intensive care. Photo by Rex Features
The Office of The Chief Rabbi
305 Ballards Lane
London N12 8GB34
Dear Chief Rabbi,
We welcome your unequivocal denunciation of the murder of Palestinian toddler, Ali Saad Dawabsha. We are sure that your condemnation is shared by the vast majority of British Jews too. Now we learn that Ali’s father has also died from 90% second degree burns. It takes little imagination to realise what a painful and appalling death that must have been.
We are asking you to stand up for all decent humane Jews in this country, not only by publicly condemning both murders and the abuse of Judaism that they represent – but by calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, and by speaking out about the situation which has caused these tragic deaths. We are asking you not only to condemn but to acknowledge that, for too many years, Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories have been able to act with total impunity, and this is the terrible result.
Settlers throw stones and are not caught or punished, even when they are in plain sight of the Israeli Defence Forces (while child Palestinian stone throwers are routinely imprisoned in breach of international law). Where settlements are built above Palestinian homes and streets, settlers rain down filth and rubbish upon them – many homes and the market in Old Hebron have had to erect wire mesh to protect people and property underneath. Particularly horrifying – it is often settler children who are throwing stones and tossing disgusting dirt into Palestinian gardens. Settlers have also painted graffiti on Palestinian homes – and on the homes of Jews who publicly oppose ‘Price Tagging’. Settlers have slashed tires and burnt out cars – again, never caught and never punished. Most recently they have torched mosques and churches – again, no capture or prosecution.
The above examples are not opinions or gossip or newspaper sensationalism. Indeed, they have all been documented for many years by religious Jewish organisations like Rabbis for Human Rights and Yod Bet B’Heshvan (a religious-led coalition of forty eight religious and secular Israeli Jewish organisations which opposes price tagging). Crucially, it is known that Shin Bet has warned successive Israeli governments for decades that if they tolerate settler violence, things will escalate and end in tragedy. The government has ignored all warnings, and now we have two more innocent lives to grieve.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians holds to the view, shared by nearly every country in the world, that the entire settler project is illegal under international law. However, in the face of these most recent horrifying murders, we are not asking you to take a position on this.
We are simply saying – please stand up for decency, humanity and Jewish values, by publicly acknowledging that the attack on the Palestinian family is a direct result of the privileged position granted by the Israeli government to the settler communities. Please state clearly too that all settler violence has to be stopped, with the first step being that the perpetrators of this terrible crime are tracked down and taken before the courts.
We look forward to hearing from you.
for Jews for Justice for Palestinians