February 27th, 2023 — Rabbi Sharon Brous
We are heartsick and disgusted by the violence being perpetrated in the West Bank.
Two Israeli brothers, Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, were murdered this weekend by a Palestinian gunman outside of Nablus in a brutal act of terror. The next day, recent Columbia grad Elan Ganeles was gunned down near Jericho. We grieve with their families, and pray they find consolation after these devastating losses.
And we vehemently condemn the retaliatory pogrom launched by Jewish settlers against the residents of the Palestinian town of Huwara Sunday evening. Settlers torched Palestinian homes and cars and terrorized families, murdering Sameh Al-Aqtash, a Palestinian man who had just returned from offering humanitarian aid to earthquake survivors in Turkey. Many others were wounded or left homeless.
One video shows the perpetrators pausing, as Palestinian homes burned to the ground, to daven maariv, to pray the evening service. Many wore kippot and tzitzit, symbols of Jewish religiosity. But let us be clear: their actions are a sick perversion of Judaism, an affront to our history, and a disgrace to our people.
We are disgusted, but not surprised. There is a direct line from the regime working to decimate Israel’s democracy and judiciary to these terrible acts of violence. Extremist ideology now has a home not on the fringes, but in the highest offices of Israel’s government.
We stand with the hundreds of thousands who have taken to the streets week after week to protest this government, and with all those fighting for a just society for Israelis and Palestinians together.