Jewish Voice for Peace's statement in support of Egyptian struggle for democracy
Jewish Voice for Peace | 02.10.2011
We at Jewish Voice for Peace are deeply inspired by the Egyptian people’s struggle for democracy and freedom as they rise to decide their own future, defying a regime that has for too long subjugated them.
We deeply respect their courage, and that of other Arab people in the region, in standing up to states that have not hesitated to respond to dissent with extreme violence. We stand in solidarity with their patience, resolve, and mutual respect and caring, exemplified in the enormous sustained demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo. And we grieve the killing and wounding of so many of these courageous demonstrators.
Our Jewish tradition tells the story of Exodus, in which our people stood up to a tyrant and to oppression to achieve liberation. This tradition reminds us to support the acts of liberation we are witnessing right now in many parts of the Arab world.
Given the history of persecution and genocide Jews have survived, we understand the uneasiness that some Jews and Israelis feel at the prospect of unknown outcomes of revolutions among Israel’s neighbors. We think the uprisings are cause for hope.
Massive U.S. aid to Egypt—over 60 billion dollars since 1981—has enabled Hosni Mubarak to maintain his repressive regime for the past thirty years. This aid is directly tied to Egypt’s treaty with Israel. Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel, in the world.
Under Mubarak’s regime, Egypt has cooperated with the U.S. and Israeli governments in enforcing a “peace” that has until now stifled the Palestinian people’s aspirations for self-determination. The Egyptian and Israeli governments have enforced the blockade of Gaza, causing a long-running humanitarian crisis that continues to compound the injuries suffered by the people of Gaza during Israel’s “Cast Lead” invasion.
As U.S. taxpayers, we are paying for our government’s support for both Egypt and Israel. The Egyptians have paid a far greater price, suffering under a dictatorship. Palestinians continue to suffer as a result of these policies, living under an Occupation that would not be possible without the tacit support of the U.S. and Egypt. The Israeli people, in whose name this is done, now live in a garrison state that is perpetually at war, with ever-eroding civil liberties, while their government continues to expand settlements, enforce a brutal occupation, and antagonize the entire region.
Under this inherently unstable policy, the region’s Arab dictators have been able to deflect popular unhappiness away from their own misdeeds and towards Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. The current uprisings represent a break with this system of repression and distraction.
We send our solidarity and our hope to the people of Egypt and the other countries now in the process of transformation. As Jews, we are with you in your struggle for freedom and dignity. As Americans, we are with you in your struggle for real democracy. We call on our government to end its unconditional financial and diplomatic support for the Egyptian and other similar dictatorships. Instead, we want our government to live up to our own democratic tradition by unequivocally supporting you in your struggle for dignity and freedom.
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Cecilie Surasky | Deputy Director | Jewish Voice for Peace
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