Emily Grotta UAHC Department of Communications 212.650.4221 email@example.com
Jewish Movement Congratulates Israeli Prime Minister-Elect Ariel
American Hebrew Congregations will be a "willing partner" in Sharon's quest
for peace with the Palestinians
NEW YORK, February 7, 2001 -
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations
(UAHC), sent the following letter of congratulations to Israeli Prime
Minister-elect Ariel Sharon. The UAHC is the synagogue arm of the Reform
Movement of Judaism.
February 7, 2001
Office Jerusalem, Israel
Dear Prime Minister Ariel
On behalf of the Union of
American Hebrew Congregations, I want to extend our congratulations to you on
your election as the next Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
We have been encouraged by
the views you expressed during your campaign regarding the future of
negotiations with the Palestinians. In your speech to the Council on Foreign
Relations, you stated that once elected, you will "conduct immediate
negotiations" with the Palestinians; you may be confident that we will support
that effort, as we supported the peace-oriented efforts of your immediate
predecessor, Ehud Barak and the three prime ministers of Israel before him:
Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin z"l. They all realized one
basic and simple truth: that a negotiated agreement, based upon mutual
recognition, territorial separation, and security assurances is the only answer
to the conflict tearing apart Israel and the Palestinians.
We have all watched with
sorrow the flare-up of violence that began in late September. If there was any
doubt before now, there can be no doubt any longer that the deadly conflict will
be solved neither by continued violence nor by unilateral action. Only serious
negotiations can bring about the peace we all desire, that peace for which we
have for so long prayed. Peace has brought important dividends to Israel: a
stronger economy with greater investments from abroad; greater security for the
people of Israel, as illustrated by a vastly reduced level of terrorism inside
Israel for most of the past decade; greater standing in the international
community; a stronger, strategic relationship with the United States; and the
end to the burden of occupation. We will support your efforts to ensure that
these trends continue and multiply.
Peace is plainly not the
only pressing issue the State and people of Israel face at this time. Because of
our commitment to Tikkun Olam and the prophetic vision of our people, we in the
Reform movement are particularly concerned with problems of poverty,
discrimination, and inequality.
Equality in education, the
status of women, Ethiopian and Mizrachi Jews, the growing gap between the rich
and poor, religious freedom and human rights are all worthy and important
causes. We in the Reform movement commend the efforts of the Israeli government
and other hard-working organizations and individuals to address these issues of
Among our more immediate
concerns is the unequal status of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Your
campaign statements reflecting your views about Israeli Arabs were heartening
and hopeful. You said you would seek "a full partnership with the Palestinian
population of Israel" and work to achieve their full equality in Israeli
society. We applaud your words and your future efforts in the areas of
education, the economy, politics and government. The issue of equality will find
strong support in our community.
Finally, of vital importance
to our movement is the issue of equality for Reform and Conservative Jews in
Israel. Israel's Declaration of Independence guarantees the "freedom of religion
and conscience." Over the years, progress has been achieved but much still needs
to be accomplished. We look forward to the support of the Israeli government,
under your leadership, in continuing to foster a pluralistic vision of Judaism
The UAHC and our
constituency of over 1.5 million members will be your willing partners in your
quest for a negotiated peace in the international arena and in your quest for
equality and democracy domestically. We look forward to a constructive
relationship between your government and the Reform movement.
Sincerely, Rabbi Eric H.
Yoffie President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations
The Union of
American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North
America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in over 900 synagogues. UAHC
services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and
intermarried Jews, educational programming, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.