PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More than 130 members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community sent an open letter on Monday to President Joe Biden and members of Congress calling for an immediate ceasefire of Israel's attack in Gaza.
As KDKA political editor Jon Delano reports, the local signers say they agree with Israeli protesters who oppose Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conduct in this war.
Sam Wasserman of East Liberty, who has been to Israel and Palestine at least five times, says it's time for local Jews to speak up about the loss of over ten thousand Palestinian lives, including thousands of children.
"As one of many Jews in Pittsburgh who believe that we need a ceasefire right now and to bring back the hostages, I am someone who as part of a collective realizes that our voices weren't being heard," says Wasserman.
Quiet no more, Wasserman joined over 130 in signing an open letter to President Biden and members of Congress, declaring, "We are Jewish community members from across Pittsburgh who are devastated by the rapidly escalating violence across Israel and Palestine.
"We are in ongoing grief and fear for Palestinians living and dying under suffocating Israeli siege and bombardment. ... We condemn the indiscriminate killing of civilians."
Wasserman says he lost a friend during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and his heart breaks every day thinking of that.
"My heart continues to break every single day as we have reports of more and more Palestinians, men, women, and children, especially babies, because 50 percent of Gaza is under the age of 18, continue to die, and that pain, we can't recover from it," says Wasserman.
Jodi Hirsch of Highland Park, who also signed the letter and whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, says Jews must speak out when innocent civilians are killed anywhere.
"I am a direct descendant of them, and I take 'never again' really seriously, and I take it to mean never again for anyone, not just never again for Jews, and that includes the Palestinian people," says Hirsch.
Both Wasserman and Hirsch say that American media is only reporting one side of Jewish opinion and that many Jews disagree with the Netanyahu government's actions in Gaza.
"There are a lot of us in the Jewish community who feel very strongly that this sort of violence, the monstrosity of murdering 5,000 children and counting, cannot happen in our name," says Hirsch.
The signers say a ceasefire will allow humanitarian aid to help save Palestinian lives and focus attention on returning the hostages. Netanyahu says a ceasefire will help Hamas.
The local Jewish community members say they are still collecting signatures on their open letter.
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