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At-Home with Gila Svirsky

1 August 2001
Subject: Open letter to Israel

The letter below, written and circulated by individuals, not organizations, will appear in Ha’aretz and be sent to Israeli Knesset members and others. If you want to add your signature, please write directly to Al Sion at by Friday morning (Pacific Coast time). If there are co-signers from outside the Americas, the title will be changed.



We are writing this letter out of deep concern for the future of Israel. Many of us have lived in Israel, some for many years. We are unalterably committed to Israel and fervently feel that Israel must remain strong and secure. Within this context, we want to share with you our serious concerns about some of Israel’s policies and actions, and our feelings that the present situation in Israel is intolerable and must not continue. Much of the information that has led to these concerns has come from friends and family in Israel.

Here are some of our major concerns:

- Human rights abuses

We strongly believe that Arab terrorist attacks are unconscionable, as is anti-Jewish hatred and incitement of any form. But, this does not justify Israel’s human rights abuses, which have been widely documented. From the time of the Prophets on, there has been a well-established Jewish tradition that Israel is to be a light unto the nations in its pursuit of social justice. Our beloved sage, Hillel, taught us that the essence of the Torah is to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the true and only path to peace – abuse of human rights is not.

Obviously the present situation creates tremendous anxiety among Israelis, who want to protect themselves, and we well understand this. It is important, nevertheless, to mend relations with the Palestinians if we want to live as neighbors with them, as we ultimately have to, rather than demean them by taking away their dignity, their livelihood, and their means of existence.

The road to a peaceful existence for both Jews and Arabs must be based on learning to live together on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance. By destroying the Palestinians’ dignity, self-respect, livelihood and homes, we blockade the path to peace, and this is clearly against Israel’s best interests. History has taught us that we cannot force the Palestinians into peace by beating them militarily. Such actions only foment cycles of retaliations and counter-retaliations. Is this the life we, within and outside Israel, want for our children and grandchildren?

- Occupation

Is it in Israel’s best national interest to be the conqueror and occupier of the West Bank and Gaza?

We’re horrified by Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks, but what else might we expect from people who are being occupied and oppressed? Didn’t some of our people also resort to desperate actions when they were suffering under the British Mandate because they considered such actions necessary to rid ourselves of the oppressor? For the sake of Israel’s future, it must now rid itself of the role of occupier and get out of the West Bank and Gaza.

- Settlements

Can Israel continue to be held hostage against its own best interests by the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza? It is well known that the settlements in effect “cantonize” the West Bank and Gaza, inhibiting the normal life of the Palestinians. Is the future of Israel’s children to be sacrificed for a settlements policy which does not even have the support of a majority of Israelis? Can we afford to continue on a road that will lead to inevitable economic disaster?

Is it the best use of Israel’s resources to attempt to defend the settlements through overwhelming military means when the result is increasing violence from both the settlers and the Palestinians? We know that violence only begets more violence. Where will such policies lead us?

- Political isolation

Because of its actions towards the Palestinians, and the nonviable plans (due primarily to the settlements) it has been offering the Palestinians in the “peace” negotiations, Israel is becoming increasingly isolated politically and losing international support. It also risks losing the support of many Jews around the world. Is this in Israel’s best interests and is this what Israel really wants?

We are expressing these concerns now because we must never forget the terrible history of how our Jewish People suffered from cruel oppressors. We must always remember how it feels to suffer from injustice, human abuse and destruction. And we must always remember what happened when people knew about the evils being committed and yet remained silent. Should we then remain silent now? And if we do, should we not also be judged guilty?

These are our deeply felt concerns. Are these not your concerns also?


Alvin M.Sion, Ph.D.
Frieda Sion:
11820 Stendall Pl. N., Seattle, WA 98133
(206) 362-6272, Email:

Jacob Naor, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, IDF veteran: 1948 and 1967 Wars
Ellen Naor:
3403-NE 80th St., Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 523-9846, Email:


Leslie Boher: Mill Creek, WA
Anne Boher: Mill Creek, WA
Richard Kastel: Port Ludlow, WA
Jay Kastel: Port Ludlow, WA
Michael L. Sion: Reno, NV
Gabe Cohen, Ed.D.: Bellevue, WA
Anita Cohen, Ed.D.: Bellevue, WA
Richard Cohen: Bellevue, WA
Ellyn Ostrow: Seattle, WA
Jonathan Ostrow, M.D.: Seattle, WA
Frank Backus, M.D., University Lecturer Emeritus: Seattle, WA
Mary Lee Backus: Seattle, WA
Sarah Anne Minkin
Sylvia Hochman: Edmonds, WA
Sam Hochman: Edmonds, WA
Lincoln Shlensky: Berkeley, CA
Donna Spiegelman, Sc.D.:Cambridge, MA
Charles Davis: Seattle, WA
Eliyah Arnon, IDF Veteran: 1970-73,1974: Berkeley, CA
Arlene Homburger: Kensington,CA
Wolfgang Homburger: Kensington,CA
Rachel Levy: Seattle, WA
Robert Beckman: Seattle, WA
Esther B. Wolf: Seattle:WA
.Harriet Ziskin: San Francisco, CA
Jonis Davis: Seattle, WA
Michele S. Silbert,:Flagstaff, AZ
Jesse Kleinman: Seattle, WA
Judith N.M. Kass
Shimen Kass
Nicky McCatty: Cambridge, MA
Rafael S.Ezekiel, Ph.D.: Cambridge, MA
Andrea Wilder: Cambridge, MA
Helene Kamen: Lexington, MA
Mitchell Kamen: Lexington, MA
Leeza Vinogradov, R.N.:Berkeley, CA
Dr. Linda L. Barnes: Boston, MA
Sheila Parks, Ed.D.: Brookline, MA
Judith Goldberg: Wayland, MA
Ruth Anna Putnam: Arlington, MA
Jan Feldman: Cupertino.CA
Ellen Rifkin: Eugene,OR
Sandra M. Jarvis: Seattle, WA
David B. Jarvis, M.D.: Seattle, WA
Eli Sercaz,Ph.D,: Encinitas, CA
Hilary Putnam: Cambridge, MA
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun magazine: San Francisco, CA
Karen Kahn: Salem, MA
Joanne Leonard: Ann Arbor,MI
Karen L. King, M.BA:San Francisco, CA
Malkeh Backman: Louisville,KY
Morris Kaleef
Rabbi Mordechai Leibling: Philadelphia, PA

Co-signers: Canada:

Yom Shamash, Teacher: Vancouver, BC
Susan Shamash, Attorney: Vancouver, BC

Co-signers: Brazil

Moises Storch, Business Consultant and Engineer: São Paulo
Alberto Castiel, Professor: São Paulo
Alexandre Ostrowiecki: São Paulo
Andre Vaisman, Journalist: São Paulo
Ari Roitman, Editor and Psychoanalyst: Rio de Janeiro
Celia Szniter. Ph.D.: São Paulo
Gisela Gorovitz, Attorney, President of the Union of Brazilian Women Jurists: São Paulo
Ilana Seltzer Goldstein, University Anthropologist: São Paulo
Julio Wainer, Professor at Dept. of Journalism, PUC-SP: São Paulo
Livio Tragtenburg, Music Composer: São Paulo
Luiz Bursztyn, Professor: São Paulo
Miriam Grinberg Storch, Researcher and Marketing Consultant: São Paulo
Nathaniel Braia, Journalist: São Paulo
Nelson Goldsmith, M.D.: Rio de Janeiro
Sergio Storch, M.BA:, Business Consultant: São Paulo
Sheila Schvarzman, Ph.D.: Campinas
Stela Goldenstein, Geographer: São Paulo
Rachel Moreno, Psychologist, President Brazilian Society of Marketing Research : São Paulo
Susana Udler, Landscape Designer: São Paulo
Any Wrona, Psychologist: São Paulo
Beatriz Kushner, Ph.D.: Rio de Janeiro
Celso Zilbovicius, Dental Surgeon: São Paulo
Paulo Elieser Saalfield, Businessman: Curtiba
Renate Lanshoff, Librarian: São Paulo
Rubens Ervani Giersztajn, Electrotechnical Engineer: São Paulo
Thais Kornin, Pesquisadora, especialista em gestao publica: Curtiba
Anna Paula Uziel, Psychologist: Rio de Janeiro
Cyma Grinberg, Phonoaudiologist: Brasília
Eliane Pszczol, M.S., Director of National Art Foundation, Ministry of Culture, Rio de Janeiro
Gershon Knispel: Artist, Co-founder of the Israel Artists Association: São Paulo
Joelle Rouchou, Journalist, Ph.D. grading in Communications: Rio de Janeiro
Liane Lafer Schevz, Architect: São Paulo
Mauro Sinder, Economist: São Paulo
Michael David Holzhacker: Researcher in Sociology and Marketing: (born in Israel): São Paulo
Monica Herz, Ph.D.: Coordinator of the Post-Grading Program of International Relations Institute, PUC-RJ: Rio de Janeiro
Rachel Mizrahi, Ph.D.: São Paulo
Rachmiel Meir Litewski, Chemical Engineer: Rio de Janeiro
Simon Schwartzman, Social Scientist: Rio de Janeiro
Tulio Kahn, Ph.D., Research Coordinator of the Latin American Agency for Human Rights: São Paulo
Ruth Grinberg, Psychologist: Brasilia

At-Home with Gila Svirsky

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