Union for Reform Judaism Votes Against War in Iraq; Resolution Calls for Exit Strategy and Specific Goals for Troop Withdrawal
HOUSTON, Nov.18, 2005Representatives of the 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America voted almost unanimously to call on the Bush Administration to immediately provide a clear exit strategy for the War in Iraq, with some troop withdrawal to begin after the December 15 elections.
More than 2,000 voting delegates from more than 500 congregations in all 50 states participated in the session at the Union for Reform Judaisms Biennial Convention, meeting in Houston Nov. 16-20.
The sentiment was clear and overwhelming, said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union. American Jews, and all Americans, are profoundly critical of this war and they want this Administration to tell us how and when it will bring our troops home.
The Union, which represents the largest branch of Judaism in North America, has a long history of opposition to war and was the first religious organization to oppose the War in Vietnam. In 1965, the Unions General Assembly called for a cease-fire in Vietnam; four years later, the General assembly demanded an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all troops no later than December 31, 1970.
While other mainstream religious organizations have expressed opposition to the war, no other Jewish organization has taken this step. The Union is the largest grassroots Jewish body in the United States, and this decision therefore has special significance.
In addition to the development of an exit strategy, the resolution calls on the Bush administration to provide more transparency regarding all aspects of the war and calls for a bi-partisan, independent commission to determine the lessons learned from this wars failures. It also condemns in the strongest possible terms, violations of the Geneva Conventions, including torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees in US custody, and condemns those who would use opposition to the war as a justification for anti-Israel efforts.
Dr. Michael Rankin, who served in Vietnam and has treated those wounded in every subsequent war as a Navy physician, said that 40 years ago he asked himself, Why in Gods name are we here?
There are just wars and unjust wars, Rankin said. This is not a just war
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC.