newsIsrael at War

Murphy calls for Gaza ceasefire to consternation of New Jersey community

“While we appreciate his condemning Hamas and acknowledging the urgent need to bring all the hostages home, we find his announcement tone-deaf,” read a statement signed by more than 70 entities.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy attends an event  featuring U.S. President Joe Biden speaking about the bipartisan infrastructure funding for the Hudson River Tunnel project at the West Side Yard gate in New York, Jan 31, 2023. Credit: Lev Radin/Shuterstock.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy attends an event featuring U.S. President Joe Biden speaking about the bipartisan infrastructure funding for the Hudson River Tunnel project at the West Side Yard gate in New York, Jan 31, 2023. Credit: Lev Radin/Shuterstock.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s unexpected statement on March 27 supporting a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has “disappointed and saddened” New Jersey’s Jewish community and prompted a response from the Jewish Federations of New Jersey, signed by more than 70 synagogues, organizations and institutions.

“While we appreciate his condemning Hamas and acknowledging the urgent need to bring all the hostages home, we find his announcement tone-deaf,” read the statement. “Since October 7th, the Jewish community in New Jersey has been under siege due to the 400 % rise in antisemitism in our schools, universities and municipalities.”

The response went on to disagree with the governor’s belief that an end to the fighting would ensure long-term peace and border security for Israelis.

“By calling for a ceasefire, he endangers the survival of the only democracy in the Middle East and ignores the root causes of the war,” said the statement. It noted that “conflating a two-state solution with a ceasefire is dangerous, enables antisemitism to soar, and heightens division among the very people who elected Gov. Murphy to lead our state.”

It further pointed out that “New Jersey is now the first in the nation to issue such a statement in favor of a ceasefire.”

In his statement, Murphy said, “At this pivotal juncture, we must recognize that the current course of conflict is taking too great of a toll. A ceasefire by all parties will end immediate hostilities, help pave the way for meaningful stability in the region, and set us on a path to a two-state solution, which will ensure long-term peace and security for Israelis, Palestinians and the entire Middle East.”

The governor also demanded that “the international community stand united “in calling for the dismantling of Hamas, which he called “a terrorist organization that murdered over 1,200 innocent individuals and kidnapped over 200 hostages—including one of New Jersey’s very own, Edan Alexander of Tenafly—on Oct. 7 in a brutal, premeditated terrorist attack. For this reason, it is abundantly clear that as long as Hamas remains in power, it is impossible to imagine long-term peace in the region.”

‘Minimizes the plight of the hostages’

The Federation statement indicated that the governor caught the Jewish community off-guard and expressed disappointment that “our governor had ample opportunity to share his concerns with the Jewish community, but instead chose to unilaterally publish a statement. It is disheartening to learn that the governor does not appreciate the devastating local impact of this war on the Jewish community. His statement minimizes the plight of the hostages, including from our own New Jersey families and communities.”

It continued: “His statement offers nothing for the victims on both sides, who need Hamas to surrender for this war to end. Nor does [it] stand for decency and civilization in the face of terror and hate.”

In his message, Murphy noted the “deep pain and despair—not only for our Muslim, Arab American and Palestinian American neighbors but for all of us who are watching the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

It went on to cite the innocent civilians killed in the conflict and the tens of thousands more who are in “dire” danger of starvation, including many women and children. Murphy also expressed sympathy for those in the state’s large Palestinian-American community mourning the loss of “innocent loved ones.”

Individual Jewish federations throughout the state posted the association’s statement to their websites and Facebook pages and immediately joined in urging their supporters to contact the governor’s office.

The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey added, “Gov. Murphy, we feel betrayed by your statement earlier today calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

CEO Dov Ben-Shimon of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest in his blog said, “We’re aware of the very troubling and misguided statement issued by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday. … It is more critical than ever that the 600,000 plus Jews in New Jersey speak with a united voice and message.”

The broad coalition of voices that signed on to the association’s statement included synagogues representing a broad spectrum of denominations, Jewish Community Centers, educational organizations and day schools, Jewish Family Services, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Bar Association of New Jersey, Rutgers Hillel and a handful of businesses.

This story originally appeared on the Jewish Link.

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