Many of us who have initiated and signed this manifesto lost family members during the Second World War. They died in concentration camps or perished in the mass graves of Eastern Europe. Often they had to dig their own graves before being catapulted into them. Others of us are survivors of Nazi persecution.
We totally repudiate Ariel Sharon's claim to speak in the name of world Jewry. He certainly does not speak in ours. Israel's declaration of war on the Palestinians could easily escalate into a major regional conflict. Israel has nuclear weapons, and there is little doubt that Sharon is fully prepared to use them. In our view, he and his policies have almost single-handedly brought the Middle East to the point where disaster could strike at any moment. Sharon is the biggest threat to the Israeli people and to Jews around the world.
The Saudi proposal adopted by the Arab League handed Sharon a unique historic opportunity to make peace. His only response was ruthless violence. Sharon is incapable of concluding agreements or forging compromises. A peaceful solution is impossible as long as he remains in power. He has never in his career done anything but resort to the toughest conceivable military measures. The Israeli resistance and peace movements deserve all the support we can give them.
As far back as 1952, Sharon commanded the infamous special operation Unit 101, whose task was to carry out reprisals on the Palestinian and Arab side of the armistice lines. During the next couple of years, he was responsible for two attacks on Palestinian villages that left almost 100 civilians dead. Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett condemned the atrocities.
In 1982, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon fashioned "Operation Peace in Galilee" - otherwise known as Israel's invasion of Lebanon. This time the toll was 20,000 killed and more than 100,000 homeless. Better than 80% of the victims were civilians, and at least 6,000 children were orphaned.
An International Commission of Inquiry set up by Nobel Peace Prizewinner
SeÃ-Â¡n MacBride determined that the Israelis had been in violation of international law during the Lebanese war. An Israeli government commission headed by Supreme Court President Yitzhak Kahan concluded that Sharon had not done enough to stop the massacre of 800 unarmed civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
In less than two years, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has managed to torpedo the agreements that took Israel and the Palestinians many years of patient accommodation to achieve. Sharon contends that Israel is above the Geneva Conventions and international law. That puts him in the company of the world's cruelest and most despicable dictators. On Sharon's orders, ambulances and hospitals are ambushed, doctors are shot, and pregnant women are left to die or give birth at Israeli checkpoints.
Our alternative to Sharon is the Jewish tradition of humanism and faith in the future. When challenged by a stranger to sum up the Jewish religion while he hopped on one foot, the great Rabbi Hillel replied simply, "That which you find hateful to yourself, do not do unto others. That is all of the law. The rest is merely commentary."
We demand that Israel immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the Occupied Territories, that an international peacekeeping force be sent to the region, that Israel comply with international law, and that Israel declare at once its willingness to negotiate peace on the basis of all U.N. resolutions.