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Sampling of JRF Statements on Israel, 1948 - 2000

2000 JRF Statement on Israel

JEWISH RECONSTRUCTIONIST FEDERATION
URGES RETURN TO NEGOTIATIONS

Recent events in the Middle East have been a cause of tremendous suffering for all concerned parties. As Reconstructionist Jews, we mourn the violence and tragic loss of life on both sides of this conflict. We firmly stand by Israel, its leaders and its people in this time of crisis. We support the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak in its continuing quest to create a lasting peace. We join as well with the increasing number of firm supporters of Israel who recognize that Israel needs to come to a reasonable and just accommodation with its Arab neighbors in order to achieve peace.

At this time, we reaffirm the JRF Resolution on Israel, which states, in part:

"We call for a just and lasting peace that will protect Israel's right to a secure existence and that will also fulfill the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people. Such a peace will require Palestinian leaders and heads of Arab governments at long last to acknowledge Israel as a permanent state in the region and to renounce all violence directed against the Jewish homeland."

We therefore urge the Palestinian leadership to halt the violence and return to the negotiating table. We also urge Israel to address the legitimate social and economic grievances of its Arab citizens, as well as to pursue negotiations and an end to the cycle of violence with the Palestinian people.

We urge all parties involved to follow the commandment: "Seek peace and pursue it."


1988 JRF Statement on Israel

The Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot is deeply committed to the flourishing of Eretz Yisrael as a Jewish State.

We appreciate Israel's extraordinary accomplishments achieved during the past 40 years, including creating the most democratic nation in the Middle East in the face of unremitting hostility from the Arab world, making the desert bloom with the most advanced of technologies, creating a strong industrial base, establishing an excellent educational system extending to all -- with facilities for Arab students second to none in the Arab world, developing a powerful defense establishment while simultaneously improving the standard of living for its citizens, absorbing millions of refugees—including over one million from Arab lands, and establishing a social infrastructure guaranteeing basic human needs to all.

As Jews living in North America, we have both benefited from and contributed to Israel's achievements. As Reconstructionists, we affirm that Eretz Yisrael is central to the spiritual life of the Jewish people and that we are committed to furthering the dynamic relationship between North American Jewry and Israel through mutual respect, cooperation, and moral dialogue.

Whereas we consider the Jewish people everywhere to be part of our extended family and that our tradition teaches us that when a member of our family seems to us to be on a dangerous path, we have moral obligation rooted in our love for them to speak out before it is too late (Talmud),

And whereas we believe that the continuous occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has an increasingly corrosive effect on the democratic nature of Israel and on its moral fiber and could eventually undermine the Jewish nature of the state,

We call for a just and lasting peace that will protect Israel's right to a secure existence and that will also fulfill the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people. Such a peace will require Palestinian leaders and heads of Arab governments at long last to acknowledge Israel as a permanent state in the region and to renounce all violence directed against the Jewish homeland. Such a peace will also require Israeli leaders to accept the principle of the land in exchange for peace which would allow the Palestinians to establish their own form of government on territories occupied by Israel since 1967. Such mutual recognition is in the spirit of Isaiah's call that "Zion shall be redeemed in justice."

We call upon the government of Israel to do its utmost to enter into negotiations that will bring about a peaceful and just resolution, We further call upon the government of Israel that in order to bring about a climate for negotiation it does not establish any new or enlarge any existing settlements in the occupied territories, that it permit peaceful political activity including the election of indigenous leadership in the occupied territories and, that it refrain from the use of lethal force against demonstrators unless absolutely necessary for protecting the lives of others, and that it refrain from imposing collective punishments, punishments without trial, and deportations.

We call upon the Palestinian people to abstain from violent demonstrations and terrorist activities, and the heads of Arab governments to recognize the right of Israel to a secure existence and to enter into negotiations with the Israeli government.

We urge all parties involved to follow the commandment from the Book of Psalms: "Seek Peace and Pursue It."


1948 - The Reconstructionist welcomes the State of Israel

The Reconstructionist, A Journal of Contemporary Jewish Thought and Practice, was founded in 1935 by Mordecai M. Kaplan and is still published.

Its Spring 1998 issue celebrated Israel's fiftieth anniversary and included Vintage Perspectives, a selection from a past issue. It was the lead editorial of the May 1948 issue, published less than two weeks after the rebirth of the State of Israel.

Editorials in The Reconstructionist were not signed; in 1948 the editing was in the hands of Rabbis Ira Eisenstein, Mordecai Kaplan and Milton Steinberg.

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