Leaders of Reform Rabbinate, World's Largest Group of Jewish Clergy, Applaud Israeli Prime Minister for Articulating a Vision for a Two-State Solution

CCAR Statement Emphasizes Permanent Jewish Character of State is Paramount

NEW YORK, June 17, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The leaders of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, the world's largest group of Jewish clergy, issued a statement today applauding Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the vision he articulated supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement, signed by Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus and Rabbi Steven Fox, acknowledges that Israel can live side-by-side with a Palestinian State only if the latter recognizes the permanent Jewish character of the State of Israel. Emphasizing threats to Israeli security, the rabbis urge understanding of Netanyahu's demand that any Palestinian State be demilitarized.

According to the statement, the CCAR is disappointed at the Palestinian Authority's quick dismissal of Netanyahu's initiative, but is delighted with the positive response of the U.S. government.

Following is the full text of the statement:

Reform Rabbinical Leaders Applaud Netanyahu Statement

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is greatly to be congratulated for the vision he has articulated in his new support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like most Israelis and Jews throughout the world, the Central Conference of American Rabbis joins the Prime Minister's vision.

We are also in complete agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu's insistence that Israel can live side-by-side with a Palestinian State only if the latter recognizes the permanent Jewish character of the State of Israel. The alternative would sacrifice the Zionist dream and the security of the Jewish people in Israel and everywhere.

Understandably, Prime Minister Netanyahu also demands that the future Palestinian State be demilitarized. Current factors justifying that demand include but are not limited to the unwillingness and/or inability of the Palestinian Authority to control violence against Israel emanating from territory under its control; the unremitting refusal of Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, to recognize Israel and to treat either Jewish or Arab Israelis as deserving of peace or security; continued incitement to violence against Israel and Jews, articulated by extremist elements throughout too much of the Islamic world. Surely, the insistence that the future Palestinian State be demilitarized is a reasonable starting point for negotiations.

We are disappointed, but sadly unsurprised, that the Palestinian Authority so quickly dismissed Prime Minister Netanyahu's initiative. We are gratified, and not at all surprised, by the United States government's positive reaction to the Prime Minister's speech.

The Israeli Prime Minister has offered an olive branch. Palestinian leadership would do well to respond in kind; and the world should join the Obama Administration in seeking to be helpful.

 Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus       Steven A. Fox
 President                    Executive Vice-President

To arrange a conversation with Rabbi Dreyfus or Rabbi Fox, please contact Itay Engelman of Sommerfield Communications, Inc. at 212-255-8386 or itay@sommerfield.com.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. As the professional organization for Reform Rabbis of North America, the CCAR projects a powerful voice in the religious life of the American and international Jewish communities. Since its establishment, the CCAR has a rich history of giving professional and personal support to Reform rabbis, providing them opportunities for study, professional development and spiritual growth beginning while they are still in seminary, through mid-careers, and into retirement. The CCAR is uniquely positioned to meet the ongoing needs of its nearly 2,000 member rabbis (virtually the entire Reform rabbinate) and the entire Reform Jewish community.


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