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JACL Issues Statement Urging Israel-Hamas Ceasefire

By May 9, 2024No Comments

Organization backs Biden administration’s efforts amid external, internal pressure.

By P.C. Staff

The National JACL on Thursday issued a statement urging the Biden administration to “continue to advance negotiations for a ceasefire, and to provide and ensure the availability of humanitarian aid for the residents of Gaza.”

The statement comes after months of external and internal pressure upon the nation’s oldest Asian American civil rights organization to take a stand with regard to Israel’s prosecution of its war on Hamas, which on Oct. 7, 2023, launched an attack on Israel that killed about 1,160 people and also included the taking of an estimated more than 200 hostages.

Following the Hamas attack, Israel’s military has prosecuted a months-long counterattack on the Iran-back terrorist group that has had a devastating impact on Palestinian residents of Gaza, with approximately 34,500 killed, and much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure left in shambles.

A group calling itself Nikkei4Palestine, aka N4P, which wants “Palestinian liberation and immediately ending Israel’s genocide of Palestinian people,” has been pressuring the JACL to “stand in solidarity with Palestine” and has urged the organization to “divest from its partnership with the Anti-Defamation League,” an American civil rights advocacy group that is seen as pro-Israel. Some members of NP4 are also JACL members.

At the Feb. 3 JACL National Board meeting, JACL National President Larry Oda told the Pacific Citizen, “JACL has a policy, adopted Sept. 4, 1954, against participating or intervening in any matters relating to the international relations of foreign governments. Our primary focus is on the improvements of race relations and civil rights within the United States.”

Oda added, “Although the demands from N4P are contrary to our policy, I have convened a subcommittee to assist them to achieve their goals. The committee has met with representatives of N4P in an initial listening session, and more sessions with other stakeholders are being planned.” (Pacific Citizen, Feb. 23, 2024)

Outreach to Oda to determine whether JACL’s newly announced support of a ceasefire is at odds with the stated JACL policy and whether JACL will accede to demands to sever ties with the ADL is thus far unanswered.

In recent days, the White House has been pressing Israel and the administration of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to accept a deal for a cease-fire. Part of the deal would involve releasing hostages taken by both sides.

JACL’s statement may be read here.