To the government of Israel
We are writing this letter as profound and passionate supporters of Israel. We look upon the increasing loss of life on both sides of the Gaza conflict with horror. We have no doubt that rocket attacks into southern Israel, by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups, are war crimes against Israel. No sovereign state should, or would, tolerate continued attacks and the deliberate targeting of civilians.
Israel had a right to respond and we support the Israeli government's decision to make stopping the rocket attacks an urgent priority.
However, we believe that only negotiations can secure long-term security for Israel and the region.
I believe this as well, but I don't see how negotiations with Hamas on a long-term settlement are going to go anywhere as long as Hamas is unalterably opposed to the existence of the state of Israel.
We are concerned that rather than bringing security to Israel, a continued military offensive could strengthen extremists, destabilise the region and exacerbate tensions inside Israel with its one million Arab citizens. The offensive and the mounting civilian victims - like the Lebanon war in 2006 - also threaten to undermine international support for Israel.
We stand alongside the people of Israel and urge the government of Israel and the Palestinian people, with the assistance of the international community, to negotiate:
• An immediate and permanent ceasefire entailing an end to all rocket attacks and the complete and permanent lifting of the blockade of Gaza.
• International monitoring of the ceasefire agreement, including measures to ensure the security of the borders between Israel and Gaza as well as the prevention of weapons smuggling into Gaza.
It is our desire to see a durable solution for ordinary people and our view that an immediate ceasefire is not only a humanitarian necessity but also a strategic priority for the future security of Israelis, Palestinians and people of the region.
Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield (head of the Movement for Reform Judaism)
Sir Jeremy Beecham (former chair of the Labour party)
Professor David Cesarani
Professor Shalom Lappin (University of London)
Michael Mitzman (who set up Holocaust Memorial Day Trust for the Home Office)
Baroness Julia Neuberger
Rabbi Danny Rich (chief executive of Liberal Judaism)
Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein (principal of Leo Baeck rabbinical training college)
Rabbi Dr Michael Shire
Sir Sigmund Sternberg
When I was an undergraduate at Harvard, Professor Marc Saperstein was my adviser. I hadn't realized that he was now in Britain - the last I had heard he was teaching at Washington University in St. Louis. His brother, David Saperstein, is head of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.
Z-Word blog has an interesting response to the open letter.