By Mark Golden
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Last month, JVP-Boston released a statement condemning the actions of Islamophobic hate group Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) at a Newton community meeting.  An APT staffer then published an op-ed in the Newton Tab denying our claims and smearing us.  (We won’t link to their op-ed because it promotes hateful stereotypes, but their work is extensively documented by the Council on American Islamic Relations). Mark submitted this letter to the editor in response.
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I am a practicing Jew living in Newton for the last 25 years. In 2013 I visited the West Bank and Israel to see for myself the conditions I have read about for so many years. I made a point (unlike many other Jewish tourists) to speak to many Palestinians and to learn about their life in the West Bank. What I found out was more distressing than I expected.
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I was witness to the violence that the Israeli military inflicts on them. Over 9000 Palestinians have died since 2000. In 2014, 2200 Palestinians in Gaza were killed during the Israeli invasion (1800 of which were civilians). Children as young as 14 are routinely arrested by the Israeli military and kept from their families for months. Most of the Palestinians I talked to had lost family members killed by the Israeli military.
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As a result, I became involved with Jewish Voice for Peace because I see it as the most effective way to both support Israel AND the Palestinians.
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I am not a “self hating Jew” as Elliot Hamilton asserts.  Unless Israeli policies change, I fear for its future.  I believe that the policies Israel is following will foster condemnation from the majority of industrialized nations. In fact, it is already happening. How can this be good for Israel?
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To achieve this change I believe the BDS movement that JVP supports is an effective way to influence Israel to abandon their repressive policies.
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When Mr. Hamilton conflates Hamas or the PLO with the majority of Palestinians who simply want to live peacefully, to work and travel freely, and to raise their children in a safe environment, yes, I do believe he and his organization is racist and Islamophobic.
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