The following column appeared in City & State magazine.

Like most American Jews, I tense up when I hear calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas War currently raging in Gaza. I do not recoil because I crave war – far from it. It is undeniable that the situation in Gaza is dire, with thousands of lives lost and many more displaced. I reject calls for a ceasefire because most of such calls for the last 150 days have been for Israel to lay down its arms and accept a genocidal terrorist organization which promises to deliver death and destruction on every Jew in the world to remain in power on its border. 

I reject calls for a ceasefire because I believe strongly in Israel’s war aims - to release the hostages, and to remove Hamas from power. 

More and more elected officials have been raising their voices to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. This is what City and State wished to highlight with its recent compendium of the New York-based politicians calling for a ceasefire in its recent listicle “The New York elected officials calling for a ceasefire in Gaza” when it lumped all those who have made such calls together in one big list.

It is imperative to point out that while some politicians advocate for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, others, like President Biden, recognize the need for a more nuanced approach. Last week, President Biden added his voice to the collective calls for a ceasefire but where his statements differ from those that have been made since October 7th are where he emphasizes the importance of bilateral negotiations, including hostage exchanges, to ensure a sustainable peace. Calls for a temporary ceasefire, contingent on the release of hostages and the cessation of Hamas aggression, offer a pragmatic solution to the crisis.

It may appear on the surface that these elected leaders are growing in number adding to greater political pressure on the U.S. government to lean on Israel to halt its war on Hamas, but it is crucial to recognize the diversity of thought among them. Grouping together all those who have called for a ceasefire oversimplifies the complexities of the conflict and undermines the efforts to achieve a lasting peace. Not all calls for a ceasefire are the same; there are stark differences in their intentions and implications.

At American Jewish Committee, our stance vis-a-vis a ceasefire aligns with the sentiments of most Jews. We acknowledge the urgent need for a resolution to the ongoing violence in Gaza. Yet, we firmly believe any ceasefire must be comprehensive and address the root causes of the conflict. Calls for an immediate and unilateral ceasefire, which allow Hamas to remain in control of Gaza, are incompatible with the goal of reaching a long-term peace. Hamas has a long track record of breaking ceasefires and using them to regroup and rearm, as evidenced by their actions in October. Trusting Hamas to abide by a unilateral ceasefire is both naive and dangerous.

A ceasefire that does not address the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas is incomplete. As negotiations for their release continue, any temporary ceasefire must prioritize their safe return. Israel has the right to protect its citizens and secure the release of its people held captive by a terrorist organization. 

Some calls for ceasefire fail to hold Hamas accountable for its actions and do not address the underlying issues fueling the conflict. While humanitarian aid and civilian protection are essential, a ceasefire that does not address the threat posed by Hamas is unsustainable.

Hamas has pleaded with the world for a ceasefire, and when ceasefires have been presented to them, Hamas has rejected them. Hamas has the power to pause the fighting and allow for more aid to enter Gaza. Their rejection of these offers confirm that Hamas has no actual interest in governing Gaza or in the wellbeing of the Palestinian people. The sole goal of Hamas is the elimination of Israel and the Jewish people. 

It is crucial to distinguish between calls for ceasefire that prioritize the safety and security of all parties involved and those that ignore the complexities of the conflict. We must engage in constructive dialogue and work towards a solution that addresses the root causes of the violence.

The path to peace is fraught with obstacles, but with determination and cooperation, we can pave the way for a better future for all. 

Josh Kramer is the New York City regional director for American Jewish Committee.