VERSION 2, Updated April 21, 2018

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD YOUR NAME TO THIS LETTER, PLEASE SEND A MESSAGE TO – put “Gaza Letter” in the subject line and please indicate the spelling of your name as you would like it to appear along with your city and zip code. THANK YOU!

April 21, 2018

The Hon. Senator Jeff Merkley
121 SW Salmon Street., Ste. 1400
Portland, OR 97204
Fax: (503) 326-2900

313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Fax: (202) 228-3997

Dear Senator Merkley:

Since March 30th Israeli armed forces have been suppressing unarmed demonstrations inside the Gaza Strip with live ammunition. The six-week campaign of protest, which will culminate on May 15, was initiated by youthful organizers independently from Hamas and all other political factions. The Facebook page of the Great Return March, as the campaign is called, invites “all components of the Palestinian civil society and all political parties or factions that believe in peaceful public resistance” to participate.

We urge you to join Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in calling on the Israel Defense Forces to exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.1 We urge you to join Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Pramila Jaypal (D-WA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), who issued a statement calling on the Israeli military to comply with international law and endorsing the call of the Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, asking Israeli soldiers to disobey illegal orders to shoot at unarmed civilians.2

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have protested peacefully. No demonstrators have carried firearms. A relatively small number of have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails in the direction of the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel, but none have crossed it. The Israeli government has offered no credible evidence that any demonstrators posed a serious threat to the well-protected soldiers deployed on the other side of the border fence. No Israeli soldier has been injured. Credible video footage shows Israeli snipers killing and wounding Palestinian journalists, unarmed civilians at prayer, and unarmed civilians retreating from the fence with their backs to the soldiers.3 According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as of April 20, Israeli forces had killed 32 Palestinians in the course of demonstrations at the border with the Gaza Strip, including four children.4 Over 4,900 have been injured, at least 1,600 of them by live ammunition, the others mainly by tear gas inhalation or rubber-coated steel pellets. Nonetheless, Israeli government officials have announced that the rules for opening fire will not be changed.5

Israel’s firing on unarmed demonstrators violates The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. It is also a grave breach of Jewish ethics. Many of us are Jews inspired by the injunctions of the Torah, which commands us not to “stand idly by” when another person’s life is in danger (Leviticus 19:16). The Talmud teaches us that human life is so precious that even in military situations, one must take every precaution to avoid killing, even of an enemy or of one perceived as endangering the government (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6:5).

Please do not stand idly by.


David Newman, Portland, OR 97212
William Singer, Portland, OR 97214
Rod Such, Portland, OR 97214
Carol Landsman, Portland, OR 97215
Michel Bolsey, Portland, OR 97202
Joel Beinin, Portland, OR 97210
Miriam Beinin, Portland, OR 97210
Allen Menagay, Portland, OR 97231
Laura Orgel, Portland, OR 97212
Jonathan Irwin, Portland 97227
Johanna Brenner, Portland 97214
Edith J. Gillis, Portland, OR 97206
Rev. Diane Dulin, Salem, OR 97306
Sarah Zareen, Hillsboro, OR 97124
Ed Hunt, Salem, OR 97303
Sherry Davidson, 97007
Cristy Murray, 97045
Patrice O’Donovan, 97202
Jan De Weese, Portland, OR 97202
Gerson Robboy, Portland, OR 97214
Joseph Wahl, Portland, OR 97224
Olivia Thomas, Portland, OR 97017
Diane Meisenhelter, Portland, OR 97211
Veronica Dujon, Portland, OR 97213
Mikel Clayhold, Portland, OR 97211
Robert Ranta, Portland, OR 97217
Regina Hannon, Portland, OR 97202
Nico Judd, Portland, OR 97206
Curtis Bell, Portland, OR 97210
Bill Resnick, Portland, OR 97214
Jennifer Daphne Kemp, Portland, OR 97206
Gloria Halper, Portland, OR
Maria Barahona, Portland, OR
Claire Provinsal, Portland State University
Elana Goldman, Portland State University
Sara Abrams, Portland State University
Tom Beiggs, Portland State University
Diana Gottleib-Spartis, Milwaukie
Peter Nielsen, Portland, OR
Charles M. Webster, Portland, OR
Adam Segal, Portland, OR
Alex Wise, Portland, OR
Lukács Kafka, Portland, OR
Steve Weiss, Portland, OR
Luciana Elmashni 97068
Art Wright 97239
Gulzar Ahmed, Tualatin, OR 97062
Elizabeth Sheppard, Portland, OR
Soriah Hamide, Portland, OR
Daniel Richardson, Vancouver, WA
Jeffrey Gauthier, Portland, OR 97203
Peter Miller, Portland, OR 97214
Lee Knightly, Portland, OR 97214
Thomas Beilman, 97306
Paul Gwozdz 97045
Alan Silver, Portland, OR 97202
Lindi Light, Portland, OR 97024
Vahid Brown 97225
Esther Nelson 97035
Eileen Rence 97215
Brad Rence 97215
Valerie Eisman, 97223
Benneth Husted, 97124
David Raphael 97215
Sarah Brault 97219
Nancy Hedrick, OR 97217
Benjamin Ben-Baruch, Ashland, OR
June Forsyth Kenagy, 97322
Mary Trolan, Dallas, OR 97338
Mark Trolan, Dallas, OR 97338
John Grosvenor, Portland 97221
Jennifer Grosvenor, Portland 97221
Alissa Keny-Guyer 97215
Trevor Farrell 97211
Courtney Childs 97333
Mary S Morris. 97201
Hyung Nam, 97214
Paul Parker 60126
Robiña Lee 97214
Grant Storr
Pamela White, Oregon City 97045
Walt Trandum, Sandy, OR 97055
Mike Gardner, Oregon City, OR 97045
Daniel Cortez 97066
Cornelia Gibson, Wilsonville 97070
Klaus Gibson, Wilsonville 97070
Anna Knierim 97202
Kayse Jama 97230
Gail Gorden 97045
Mary C. King, Portland, OR 97214
Susan Skinner, Astoria, OR
Brian Greer, Portland, OR 97212
Johnette Orpinela, 97086
Mitch Green 97232
Connor Smith, 97202
Jeremy Salmon 97232
Michael Sneathen 97206
Samuel Keith Guthrie 97202
Chris Clapis 97214
Kevin Hayes 97217
Ben Chatterton 97206
Brian McIver 97005
Andy Pressman, Portland, OR 97214
Cedric Wiens 97141
Stacey Atwell, Portland, OR 97214
Brad Wood, Portland, OR 97224
Matthew Whipple 97217
Laura Muth, Portland, OR 97239
Brian Campbell 97217
Olivia Katbi Smith, Portland, 97202
Sue Willbanks 97008, Beaverton
Doug Willbanks 97008, Beaverton
Lisa Westarp, 97212
Andy Harris 97227
Dee Poujade 97201
Amit Gordon, Portland, OR 97211
Zahra Baloch 97229
Daphne Wysham, 97068
Dave Cutler, 97215
Soren Impey, Portland, OR 97214
Drew Elizarde-Miller 97201
Adrian Groenendyk 97202
Sam Miller, Portland, OR 97214
Kanaan Kanaan 97213
Malcolm Chaddock 97219
Siobhan O’Connor 97045
Sally Ann Wells 97138
Jean Townes 97330
Gretchen Newlin 97333
Leah Bolger 97333
Jacob Herbst 97266
Melisa Crosby 97220
Samson Black 97219
Christine H White 97202
Mary Watkins 97213
Rebecca Edwards 97202
Sophie Jaggi 97209
Jason Lawrence 97229
Jason Suárez 97202
Jody Folkedahl Eppolito 97266
Peggy Jo Bronson 97219
Laurie Sonnenfeld 97222
Virginia Feldman
Nick Khoury
Laurie King, 97203
Max White, 97225
David Davis 97070
Simon Springall 97070
John DeHaas 97024
Kevin Hunt 97045
Charles Gallia 97045
Faith Lee, Oregon City 97045
Christine Chin Ryan 97055
Kathryn Wynne 97013
Sherry Thomas-Healy 97015
David Healy, Clackamas, OR 97015
Gary Sinnen, Clackamas, OR 97015
Valerie Wicklund 97055
Ray Wicklund 97055
Walter Gibson 97035
Valdez Bravo 97219
Cheryl Fischer 97222
Nina J. Lawrence 97330
D Harper 97065
Emily Herbert 97232
Ted Dreier 97219
The Very Rev. Anthony Thurston, Happy Valley, OR 97086
Ruth Roberts 97330
Rev. John Shuck 97229
Katie Comfort Portland, OR 97217
Judith Lienhard, Portland, OR 97225
Lynn Ford, Portland, OR 97217
Aesha Lorenz Al-Saeed, OR 97201
Kent Spring, 97217
Alice Mott, Milwaukie, OR 97222
John Bethencourt 97215
Renee Such 97214
Adin Eichler 97213
Linda Swanson-Davies, OR 97219
Jamie Beinin, Portland, OR 97219
Gail Sanford, OR 97267
Neal Stixrud, Wilsonville, OR 97070
Herschel Soles, Portland, OR 97211
Anette Stixrud, Wilsonville, OR 97070
Bill Brown OR 97219
Rachel Prusak, West Linn, OR 97068
Judy Bartha, Tualatin, OR 97062
Glenda Douglass, OR 97034
J. Kevin Hunt, OR 97043
Elizabeth Mann, Portland, OR 97214
Brian R. Walbergh, OR 97211
William F. Smith, Portland, OR 97214
Stephanie Scoville, Portland,OR 97214
Hiroshi Kaneko, Portland, OR 97211
Jennifer Curry, 97008
Donna Arasin, Portland, 97202
Beverly Hearth 97225
Anne Trainor
Steven Goldberg
T.J. Ford 97215
Steve Hassett 97215
Cort Richer-97431
Elaine wells 97008
Kellie O’Donnell 97213
Robert Cooper 97214
Phil Goldsmith, Portland, OR 97210
Faye Bennett, 97214
The Rev. Catherine Alder 97267
Lillian Gilbert, Portland OR 97202
Laurie Childers, Oregon Fellowship of Reconciliation, Corvallis,OR  97333
Jonathan McEntee, Wilsonville OR 97201
Au Nguyen, Portland, OR 97214
Kathy Austen, Portland, OR 97266
John Linder 97206
Mary Fishler 97206
Ruth Roberts, Corvallis, OR 97330
​Jim Bowne​, Ashland, OR 97520
Leah Bolger, Corvallis, OR 97333
Michael Heumann 97212
Peggy Jo Bronson, Portland 97219
Mike Horner 97206
Jack Herbert, Portland, 97225
Dennis and Linny Stovall, Portland, 97201
May Wallace Portland 97217
Virginia Wiltshire-Gordon, Portland, OR 97213
Ethelyn Pankratz, Portland, OR 97219
Betsy L. Zucker, Portland 97215
Betty Cobb, Tigard, OR 97224
Barbara K. Baker, Portland, OR 97266
Roberta L. Hall
David E. Delk, Portland OR 9213
Bob Rossi, Salem, OR 97301


1 The Times of Israel, April 12, 2018

2 Press release, April 12, 2018

3 Yasmine Al-Sayyad, The New Yorker, April 10, 2018; Human Rights Watch, “Israel: Gaza Killings Unlawful, Calculated,” April 3, 2018

4 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, April 20, 2018

5 Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury, Haaretz, April 2, 2018