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In today’s earlier piece (A question for Rabbis for Human Rights about the Flotilla), I promised to post any responses from Rabbis for Human Rights regarding a letter they purportedly signed supporting the Flotilla.  Since this morning’s original posting, I found the text of the statement in question here on Ramallah Online, where RHR is listed as a signatory.  RHR, however, says it did not sign this statement, and if its name does appear on the statement then it is a mistake.

Here are RHR’s statements also posted in the comments section.

From Rabbi Barry Leff, Chairman of the Board, RHR:

  • Your comments about RHR are not correct. We did not sign the statement sent out by other human rights organizations supporting the flotilla, even though it was widely reported we did.We did issue a statement of our own, calling for a compromise: the flotilla be allowed to proceed to Gaza only after being inspected by the IDF.  A compromise that I expect would not be acceptable to either side, but a logical one nonetheless.See http://rhr.org.il/eng/index.php/2011/07/enable-the-flotilla-to-arrive-in-gaza/ to read the release.
  • RHR did NOT sign the other statement. We were asked to sign it and declined; it could be someone sent something out without realizing we had declined.
  • Another correction: all members of Rabbis for Human Rights are Israeli rabbis. Our membership includes rabbis from all streams of Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Renewal. There is a “sister” organization, Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, and while many North American rabbis support RHR-NA, it is not technically a “membership” organization.

From Yariv Mohar, a spokesperson from RHR:

RHR did not signed the letter you’re referring to in this post (the letter signed by coalition of organizations). The only statement RHR did signed regarding the flotilla is the one on our official website [http://rhr.org.il/eng/index.php/2011/07/enable-the-flotilla-to-arrive-in-gaza/]. This statement alone reflects where RHR stand regarding the flotilla.

We’re obviously checking as to why our name was added to all those publications on the web connecting us with the coalition letter. Please make our respond public in the post and we thank you for the dialogue which we surly approve.

I appreciate the civil and respectful exchange I am having with RHR, and it appears this respect is mutual.  Given the intensity of debate in this country over these weighty and highly emotive issues, such civil discourse is not always the case. Thus I appreciate it al kol she’keyn (all the more so).

So, let’s acknowledge what is real: RHR took a position calling for the Israeli government to allow the Flotilla to sail to Gaza, it did so independently of the Flotilla organizers or any of their supporters.  And, most importantly, RHR included clear, strong statements supporting Israel’s right to self-defense and condemning Hamas’ attacks on Israel using missiles received from abroad, meaning Iran.  The Flotillistas would never do that.

The RHR statement, however, says, in part:

We cannot prevent those who sincerely want to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza residents, who have suffered and continue to suffer from poor living conditions, the possibility of delivering aid.

This is where I can’t agree with RHR’s position as I don’t believe the Flotillistas are humanitarians.  There are numerous internationally established channels where humanitarian aid is being daily delivered to Gaza, mostly through Israel, but the Flotilla organizers refuse to go through these channels.  I see them instead as professional agitprop provocateurs working closely and knowingly with the antisemitic and terrorist Hamas government in Gaza in a common cause to break the naval blockade so as to enable those very same missiles RHR condemns to reach Gaza and ultimately be used on us Israeli civilians.  One such missile was fired from Gaza at an Israeli school bus in April, killing an Israeli child.  (See my first blog on this subject: Flotilla, “Flytilla” are not about peace; but challenging Israel’s right to exist).

As such, I believe RHR is lending its good name to an immoral cause and I hope RHR will reconsider its stance.