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August 15, 2019; New York, NY – Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rabbi Rick Jacobs released the following statement in response to the Israeli government’s decision to bar entry to members of the United States Congress:
Israel’s decision to bar U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country is wrong, full stop. Democracies do not hide; they can protect their security and well-being and also celebrate robust debate and engagement in the public square.
One need not agree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib on BDS (I certainly don’t) to know that the strongest response to their challenge is to meet it head on, rather than to draw the curtains and hide. Israel should use the opportunity afforded by the representatives’ visit to demonstrate why BDS is wrong and fails to offer a reasonable path forward in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is hard to know who is acting more recklessly today – Prime Minister Netanyahu by sacrificing Israel’s commitment to democracy and openness or President Trump by injecting himself into a highly political argument just weeks before the upcoming Israel election. The consequences of their actions today will, I fear, reverberate for years both in undermining Israeli democracy and in making Israel a “wedge issue” in American politics.
We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to reverse his decision, welcome Representatives Tlaib and Omar as sitting members of Congress, and use this opportunity to demonstrate Israel’s thriving democracy to the world.
About the Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.
Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.
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