Following yesterday's terrorist atrocity at a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – the terrorist group which openly praised the attack and described the two assailants as "our fellow comrades in PFLP" – has issued a further statement urging all-out war against Israel, while simultaneously praising anti-Zionist Jews as "true and genuine voices for the struggle… We salute each and every one of them."
The bloodcurdling declaration, attributed to PFLP Central Committee member Khalil Maqdesi, and distributed by a far left website named "Fightback! News," describes yesterday's attack as "a natural response to the ongoing racist policies and crimes of the occupation."
Maqdesi's statement is dominated by what is, in effect, a call for genocide against the Jewish nation in Israel. After affirming the centrality of "revolutionary violence," Maqdesi says, "Occupiers and racists do not belong to the land of Palestine; there are, and must be, consequences and repercussions for the theft of our land and our rights."
The meaning of this last sentence was graphically demonstrated by yesterday's attack, which took place in predominantly Jewish western Jerusalem and targeted a group of individuals who were peacefully at prayer. Despite the PFLP's claim to be a Marxist, secular organization, the assailants, cousins Ghassan and Odai Abu Jamal, screamed "Allahu Akhbar!" – "God is Great" – as they attacked synagogue worshippers with meat cleavers, axes and a gun.
At the same time, Maqdesi lavishly praised what he said were the "thousands of Jews around the world [who] are true and genuine voices for the struggle, leading boycott movements and joining the Palestinian struggle for liberation on a daily basis. We salute each and every one of them."
"You must stand by the side of the oppressed, and not the oppressor; raise your voice against the Zionist criminals who are oppressing our people in your name," Maqdesi said, in a message to "the Jewish people around the world."
Though Maqdesi did not specifically name any groups or individuals, there are plenty of examples in both the United States and Europe of Jews who unconditionally support the Palestinians or are active in promoting boycotts against Israel, among them the tiny orthodox Neturei Karta sect, the website Mondoweiss, and the advocacy group "Jewish Voice for Peace."
Despite several attempts by The Algemeiner to get a response from Jewish Voice for Peace to the PFLP's endorsement of Jewish boycott activists, on the grounds that JVP's mission statement explicitly specifies "support for the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement," the organization – which regularly complains of being "muzzled" by mainstream Jewish outlets and even runs a blog dedicated to that theme – declined to comment.
JVP spokesperson Naomi Dann instead sent a brief email highlighting a statement from the group about yesterday's attack, which called on "the Israeli government and its supporters to cease further calls to incitement and collective punishment." Echoing Maqdisi's justification of the Har Nof atrocity ("it is the occupation that is responsible for the escalation in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine,") JVP condemned what it described as "Israel's continual system of occupation, dispossession, and discrimination against Palestinians."
On reading the PFLP's endorsement of Israel's Jewish opponents, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner that he was strongly reminded of the Hebrew phrase "chutz la machaneh" – "outside the tent."
"I do not hesitate to call a Jew an anti-Semite," Cooper said. "It's always a shame to lose a Jew, but these are people in word and deed who have put themselves outside the tent. In order to be included in the tent, you don't have to pass any theological or political tests. But either you are concerned with the well being of the Jewish collective or you're not. If you totally identity with an enemy, you are 'chutz la machaneh.'"
Cooper concluded: "Anyone who endorses or excuses the butchery of Jews has removed themselves from a tent that has never been bigger or more inclusive."
The Algemeiner also asked a leading Reform rabbi in New York, who did not want to be identified, whether the continued involvement of JVP-affiliated rabbis in communal worship and education was desirable, in the light of the PFLP's ringing endorsement of Jewish involvement in the boycott campaign one day after the brutal murder of Jewish worshippers.
"Much as I disagree with their point of view, a step that places these people in a cherem [exclusion from the community] is not one that I am willing to take," the rabbi said. "Judaism has always shown that the essence of its strength is the ability to tolerate diversity within the community."
JVP operates a Rabbinical Council co-chaired by Rabbi Brant Rosen of Evanston, Il., and Rabbi Margaret Holub of Mendocino Coast Jewish Community in California. Among JVP's religious activities is the lighting of seven memorial candles on Tisha B'Av – a fast day mourning both the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and Jewish sovereignty – to protest, among other alleged offenses, Israel's "exploitation of Palestinian natural resources" and "the expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements."