The Central Conference of American Rabbis has joined with the Union for Reform Judaism, ARZA and ARZA-Canada to issue a Reform Movement statement about the United Nations decision to upgrade the status of the Palestinians as a “non-member observer state.”
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4 replies on “Reform Movement Response to United Nations”
With appreciation to CCAR/ARZA in articulating a Reform Movement statement, and with hesitation because I’m not good at political controversy, I respectfully disagree. I think it’s important to open up the discussion here as the blog format would seem to call for. Hopefully that can happen with collegiality and mutual respect.
My own response to the UN event lines up better with the letter sent out to congregants by B’nai Jeshurun of New York, as reported in today’s New York Times. I will paste that letter below, and you can read the NYT article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/nyregion/jewish-congregation-applauds-un-vote-on-palestine.html .
Best wishes to all for a joyous and light-filled Chanukah. Susan Laemmle
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. As you know, there is a wide diversity of viewpoints among our colleagues on important matters of policy, so arriving at a statement that would enjoy unanimous approval on virtually any subject is impossible. As president-elect of the Conference, I had the opportunity to participate by email in the discussion that preceded adoption of the resolution by the URJ Board. There was considerable give and take in the process of crafting it. Some wished for a stronger statement on settlements. Others saw Israel’s response to the UN decision as a measured warning to the Palestinian leadership that they have much to lose if they continue to pursue unilateral measures. There was powerful support for a two-state solution, but also a strong belief that the only way to achieve it is serious negotiations without pre-conditions.
Personally, as a rabbi and a citizen of both the US and Israel, while I strongly support a two-state solution, I would have preferred an explicit reaffirmation of our Movement’s support for Israel’s security and for the strategic partnership between Israel and the US. As Reform Jews, we are not neutral observers. And coming just days after Israel was compelled to act in defense of millions of its citizens under bombardment from hundreds of rockets and missiles from Gaza, I believe the resolution should not have described the actions of Hamas as “violence,” but by their proper name: terrorism. I would also have liked to see it condemn the public remarks of President Abbas praising the “victory” of Hamas over Israel and his vile, vitriolic speech at the UN prior to the vote, using such terms as “racist” and “apartheid” to describe Israel.
In the end, notwithstanding the resolution’s flaws, as I saw them, I supported the recommendation of our colleague, Arnie Gluck, our Israel chair, that the CCAR endorse it, believing that its balanced approach succeeded in expressing the core consensus of our Movement. Ultimately, the difference between us involves means, not ends.
Warmest regards and best wishes for chag urim sameach.
Thanks for your reply Rick. My comment did not mean to criticize CCAR/ARZA for articulating a position on behalf of the Movement. I understand that there will never be unanimity. I simply wanted to express another point of view and make it public, both because I believe it and in order to open up the Israel discussion. Hopefully others will now join in and/or feel comfortable expressing a range of views on how we are going to arrive at peace and security for Eretz Yisrael. Yes, chag urim sameach to all. Susan
Susan, diverse opinions, and even critical ones, are always welcome. You might be interested to see the article about the B’nai Jeshurun letter that appeared on today’s JTA, which appears below.
N.Y. shul’s rabbis ‘regret’ email praising U.N. Palestine vote
December 6, 2012
NEW YORK (JTA) — Rabbis at B’nai Jeshurun are expressing “regret” over an email sent out by the prominent New York synagogue praising the United Nations vote to elevate Palestinians to non-member state status.
The rabbis of the Manhattan synagogue sent a note Thursday to congregants saying that their email last week endorsing the U.N. action had been sent prematurely and mistakenly listed several other synagogue officials as signatories.
“While we affirm the essence of our message, we feel that it is important to share with you that through a series of unfortunate internal errors, an incomplete and unedited draft of the letter was sent out which resulted in a tone which did not reflect the complexities and uncertainties of this moment,” the rabbis, Rolando Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein and Felicia Sol, wrote in their followup email.
The rabbis also wrote that they “regret the feelings of alienation that resulted from our letter.”
The latest email was first reported by The New York Jewish Week.
The original email, sent last Friday, drew both praise and outrage from members of the nondenominational Upper West Side synagogue, which is known for its liberal politics and lively services. The email and ensuing controversy drew significant media attention, including a front-page story in The New York Times on Wednesday.
“The vote at the U.N. yesterday is a great moment for us as citizens of the world,” the original email stated. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition. Having gained independence ourselves in this way, we are especially conscious of this.”
In their followup, the three rabbis wrote that they are “passionate lovers of Israel” and are “unequivocally committed to Israel’s security, democracy and peace.”
They also wrote that the original email was a letter from them and that the synagogue’s cantor, board president, executive director and director of Israel engagement were listed mistakenly as signatories.