YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation released a statement on Wednesday regarding the recent violence in Israel.
The statement comes on behalf of Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, executive director of Community Relations/Government Affairs, and CEO Andrew Lipkin.
The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation stands in solidarity with Israel and unequivocally supports Israel’s right to defend itself. Like all countries, Israel has the responsibility to protect its civilians and its borders against terrorism and security threats.
We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza by the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which began on Monday, May 10 and continues through today. Over the last 48 hours, these terrorist groups have fired more than 600 missiles toward Israeli towns and cities, including Jerusalem, which is home to Jews, Muslims, Christians and other faith groups, threatening the lives of civilians of all backgrounds. The Iron Dome defense system has intercepted hundreds of rockets heading toward populated areas saving countless lives, but it cannot defend against the terror and trauma inflicted on tens of thousands of Israelis now running from their homes, offices, classrooms, and buses to hide in bomb shelters. Almost one-third of rockets launched end up landing inside Gaza itself, putting their own people at risk.
We are heartbroken at the loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives. We recognize that images of violence in Jerusalem, especially during Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) and Ramadan, are deeply painful to Jews and Muslims. There is never justification for indiscriminate violence.
This is not about evictions, annexation, or two states; nor is it about building a better future for Palestinians, a premise that the local and national Jewish communities have consistently and continue to strongly support. Rather, the purpose of these indiscriminate attacks on Israeli Arab and Jewish civilians is, as it has always been, to terrorize innocent civilians and to take advantage of an already tense situation solely for the political benefit of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s autocrats.
The Federation will continue to relay timely information to the community, including any opportunities to hear directly from Israeli authorities, Jewish leaders, and others from the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys who are currently in Israel. Members of our Jewish community have children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends in harm’s way at this very moment, and we join them in praying for their safety and well-being. We extend our prayers for recovery to all those injured and mourn for all innocent lives lost. We join with those ever-yearning for a more peaceful, secure, and just future for all living in the region.
On Tuesday, pro-Palestinian protestors marched and carried signs in Youngstown to protest this week’s actions against Palestinians living in Jerusalem.
The demonstrators said they were upset with the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem.
Burdman said the dispute is going through the court system overseas.
“The situation in the neighborhood in Jerusalem has been a long-standing property dispute between private owners and had been going through the system, the legal system in Israel and it had about to be addressed at the Supreme Court. In order to try and de-escalate things, Israel and the Supreme Court preempted that report from the Supreme Court and it stayed the decision,” she said.
Burdman went on to say that the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation is a strong supporter of a two-state solution to this ongoing crisis.