Our Letter to Secretary Blinken (September 28, 2023)

Secretary Antony Blinken

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20520


Dear Secretary Blinken,

As Jewish Americans, we are reaching out to you following this sacred period of the High Holidays—a time for reflection, atonement, and compassion. We implore you to take swift action to release the urgently needed funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). 

Time is of the essence. The funds allocated for this critical humanitarian aid are likely to be reallocated at the end of this month, and the situation has reached a precipice of despair.

 During the High Holidays, we are reminded of the transformative power of compassion and justice in shaping the destinies of individuals and communities alike. As an organization committed to advancing peace in Israel and Palestine, we express our profound revulsion at the deployment of hunger as a weapon, as you have eloquently stated: "Using hunger as a weapon is a tragedy, and it is one that we have a responsibility to confront."

Regrettably, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has imposed a hold on these crucial funds, preventing their release for months. Despite the impassioned appeals to Senator Risch urging him to lift this hold, the funds remain unattainable.

If Senator Risch's hold is not expeditiously lifted or overridden, Gaza faces an impending humanitarian catastrophe, with over 1.2 million Palestinian refugees, including hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children, left without food. Beyond the disastrous humanitarian impact, such a situation could have dire security and political repercussions.

Our tradition teaches us that "tzedakah" (righteousness or charity) constitutes not merely an act of benevolence but a moral obligation. By providing emergency food assistance to Palestinian refugees, we are presented with an immediate opportunity to fulfill this moral duty and make a profound impact on the lives of those mired in suffering. We firmly believe that the United States can play a pivotal role in advancing peace and stability in the region by addressing the fundamental humanitarian needs of Palestinians.

We beseech you to act with urgency and determination and take every necessary measure to expedite the immediate disbursement of the allocated funds for emergency food assistance to Palestinian refugees. Lives hang in the balance.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this pressing matter, and we fervently hope that you will seize this moment with resolute action, embodying our shared commitment to justice and human dignity.


Americans for Peace Now

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