U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that a ceasefire agreement has been reached between Israel and Hamas. The two sides were negotiating in Egypt to end the week of violence in Gaza.
Local Jewish leaders reacted cautiously to the news.
“I think it’s wonderful if it holds true,” said Steve Gold, co-chair of the Israel Emergency Campaign in Rockland, in reference to past ceasefire agreements that were broken. “There’s still the possibility that attacks will go on. It’s great there’s a ceasefire but the issues remain.”
Gold noted while the major parties have agreed to a truce, there are other groups involved in the violence and their actions can determine whether it is successful or not.
“There are so many splinter groups that are looking for the destruction of Israel so the ceasefire doesn’t mean anything to them” he said. “Past experience has shown that it won’t last very long.”
However, the involvement of the United States in the negotiations should be significant. Gold said he was proud of its’ lead role and support of Israel.
“I’m proud that we were able to broker this deal. Maybe because the U.S. brokered it, it will have credibility,” he said.
Diane Sloyer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, expressed similar thoughts.
“We are optimistic with regard to the proposed ceasefire and hope it will bring an end to Hamas’ incessant rocket attacks on innocent civilian targets in Israel,” she said. “We will continue to support Israel’s right to defend herself.”
Rockland Board of Rabbis President Rabbi Paula Mack Drill has a very personal stake in hoping the ceasefire brings peace. Her daughter is serving in the Israel Defense Forces as an infantry instructor. She is stationed at a base in the south of Israel where the Hamas attacks have been concentrated and lives on a kibbutz near the Gaza border.
Rabbi Drill said she spoke with her daughter this morning before the announcement was made. She said she hopes for peace for Israelis in the south who have been living under the threat of constant bombardment.
“Whenever Israel is in trouble my heart is in my throat,” she said.
Sloyer said financial support for Israel has been pouring in locally. Since Monday, when the Stand With Israel Solidarity Rally was held in New City, the federation has raised more than $30,000. She said the national Jewish Federation has pledged $5 million to Israel to relocate children, provide counseling for people with post traumatic stress from the bombing and send packages of supplies to residents living in bomb shelters.
The Emergency Relief Committee in Rockland continues its fundraising effort with Blue & White Cyber Friday at the Jewish Community Campus in West Nyack. The program features guest speaker Gil Lainer, counsel for Public Diplomacy from the Israeli Consulate.