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Yoffie Message to President-Elect

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Reform Leader Urges President-Elect to Stay the Course with Israel and
Address Social Justice Issues as He Builds Economic Recovery

Yoffie: If our nation can provide bailouts for billionaires,
 it can find a way to provide health care to America’s uninsured.”
America’s commitment to Israel must “remain as fixed and permanent as the sky.”


December 12, 2008, Tampa, FL –While economic recovery must be President-Elect Barack Obama’s highest priority, he should not delay in addressing the great issues of justice that dominated the campaign, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said today.

Speaking at the Shabbat worship of the Union’s Board of Trustees meeting here, Yoffie said America has a commitment to Israel and that commitment must remain as fixed and permanent as the sky.  He expressed confidence that President-Elect Obama and Hillary Clinton, his choice for Secretary of State, are strong advocates for Israel. Noting that nothing positive happens with the Arabs and Israel unless the U.S. in involved, he urged them to continue America’s support for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and  also asked that they help advance the talks with Syria that Israel initiated last year.

Yoffie also called on Israel to keep its promise to stop settlement expansion and remove illegal West Bank outposts.  He noted as well that the violence in Hebron “is part of a growing pattern of settler violence in the West bank that, tragically, has been building for years,” Yoffie said.

“There is no denying that for a long time, the authorities have looked the other way, excusing their misbehavior as idealism or dismissing it as the harmless antics of the young,” he said. “It’s time to admit that extremism unchecked rises up to devour you; it’s time to admit that Jewish hooligans and vigilantes are no different than any other hooligans and vigilantes, and before any further damage is done, they must be arrested, tried, and punished for their crimes.”

Speaking of the challenges facing the President-Elect, Yoffie praised Mr. Obama’s strong reaffirmation on Thursday of his commitment to provide health insurance to all Americans but noted that calls for delay were already being heard.  He urged the President-Elect not to be overcome by the problems that have beset every attempt to extend medical coverage to the uninsured in the past 30 years.

“Mr. President-Elect: Please, stand strong. No more: let’s wait. No more inaction. No more retreat from promises solemnly made to those who need help now,” Yoffie said. “Surely if our nation can provide bailouts for billionaires, it can find a way to provide health care to America’s uninsured.” 

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