Mideast violence can't end until occupation ceases

  As representatives of the End the Occupation Coalition we would like to welcome Rabbi Jeff Sultar to the Naperville community and wish him and Beth Shalom Congregation continued growth and blessings.

  At the same time we would like to make clear our position. We condemn the use of violence on all sides of the current conflict in the Middle East. We also recognize the right of Israel to exist in peace and security within its internationally recognized borders. We also recognize the right of the Palestinian people to exist in peace and security within its own state in borders set by international law and UN resolutions. These borders are referred to as the "green line."

  We do not claim that if the occupation were to end and all settlements dismantled, all the violence in the Middle East would stop. Undoubtedly there would be extremists both in Israel and Palestine who would continue the violence. While this violence poses a serious challenge to the majority who want peace, it will not be possible to deal effectively with the violence as long as the occupation continues.

  The destructive nature of the occupation on all sides is articulated well by the 230 Israeli soldiers who added their names to a petition stating, in part, "We who understand today that the price of occupation is the loss of humanity of the IDF, and the corruption of Israeli society in general; who know that the territories are not Israel, and that ultimately the settlements will be evacuated; we hereby declare that we will not go on fighting a war for the peace of the settlements. We will not go on fighting beyond the 'green line' for the purposes of domination, expulsion, starvation, and humiliation of an entire people.

Tom Cordaro

Rev. Duane Mevis