An Opportunity Not to be Missed

Statement on Arafat's Death by Rabbi Andrew Davids, Executive Director, ARZA

Rabbi Yoffie's statement
Background information & responsa

The departure of Arafat from the world stage will undoubtedly create a unique moment within the painful Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We call on the Palestinian leadership to seize this moment in such a manner that demonstrates their true intent to best serve their people and their goal of the establishment of a peaceful state neighboring Israel.

We at ARZA see this as a time for a significant step forward past myth and memory into a future of real hope and real peace. Both peoples will benefit from the dawn of a new era in our relationship, if it can be transformed into one based on mutual respect and good-faith negotiations. Despite what we may think about Arafat, we know that he is a man who is greatly beloved by his people and that they will be in great pain after losing him.

To help move towards a new reality, the Palestinian People must rally behind a strong and decisive leader committed to peace. We call upon President Bush to reengage in the Middle East peace process in a manner that is seen as nurturing from within rather than "imposed" from without. It is critical to move with tremendous skill and sensitivity to ensure that an embrace from the Israeli or American side will not undermine the authority of any new Palestinian leader. Thus the onus for reducing terror and accepting political settlement rests most significantly on the shoulders of a Palestinian leadership with the courage to move forward. The Palestinians must decide if they will honor the memory of Arafat by choosing to make possible a Palestinian State living in peace alongside Israel or rather to condemn their people to yet more decades of violence, despair and missed opportunities.

May we look ahead to a time of peace and trust, in the spirit of the Reform Movement's support for a two-state solution in the region. And we convey our heartfelt wishes and firm support to our extended family, the members of our Movement in Israel, to all of our people in Zion and to all of those who seek peace in our troubled world.