PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Coalition for Israel on Monday sent a letter signed by 114 Rhode Island residents to the the state’s congressional delegation urging them to reject calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
“A pause or ceasefire today will give Hamas a chance to regroup and further endanger civilians,” the letter states. “Only Hamas’ surrender and complete hostage release can really save civilian lives. Israel must be given the time without interference to destroy Hamas.”
The letter comes one week after the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation received a letter signed by 88 Rhode Island Jews and Israelis urging them to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have issued a joint statement urging Israel to pause military operations against Hamas in Gaza to allow more humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinian people. US Representative Seth Magaziner has signed onto a letter urging a pause to allow humanitarian aid. And US Representative-elect Gabe Amo, who is set to be sworn in Monday night, has said he, too, supports a humanitarian pause.
The letter organized by the Rhode Coalition for Israel tells the legislators, “Please reconsider your call for a pause or future calls for a blanket pause or ceasefire in Israel’s necessary and just war against Hamas.”
The signatories include Jewish and Israeli residents, as well as Christian pastors and other non-Jewish supporters of Israel’s war against Hamas. The Rhode Island Coalition for Israel describes itself as an organization of Christians and Jews supporting the US alliance with Israel and traditional Judeo-Christian values.
“While there is a stereotype of Jews as progressives in Rhode Island, that’s not at all the case,” coalition executive director Howard Brown said in a news release. “There are many closet moderates and conservatives in the Jewish population who aren’t well represented in legacy organizations, and they have allies among other moderate and conservative groups, including veterans, school parents, Bible-believing Christians and traditional Latinos, even some college students. Legacy media tends to overlook them.”
The letter comes 10 days after the all-Democratic Providence City Council passed a resolution urging the Biden administration to “immediately call for and facilitate de-escalation and a ceasefire.” The vote was not unanimous, but the tally is unclear because it was a voice vote.
Brown said, “Recent resolutions submitted into the Providence City Council regarding Israel’s self-defense against terrorism are likewise wrong-headed. Council members, apparently due to the outsized influence of the radical fringe of the Democrat Socialists of America, have wandered far afield. There may yet be a reckoning for their doing so from their voters.”
And the letter comes after Providence College political science Professor Ruth Ben-Artzi — the niece of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu — joined two rabbis in writing a Boston Globe commentary piece upholding Israel’s right to defend itself but raising concerns about Israel’s response.
“The notion that Israel is engaging in collective punishment, as some claim, and that what Israel is doing is antithetical to Jewish values, is false. The problem here is that some people justify their particular worldview by claiming it represents Jewish values,” Brown said in the news release. “Israel is ultimately engaged in saving innocent civilian lives, even though some civilians may regrettably be killed. That does not rise to the level of collective punishment. It is morally justifiable.”
According to the latest reports from the Israeli government, 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, and about 250 more were taken hostage. Since Oct. 7, more than 11,000 Palestinians, two thirds of them women and children, have been killed during Israel’s response in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry there.