The Pursuit of Peace

47th Biennial Assembly
November 1963
Chicago, Illinois

Judaism reaffirms the supreme value of human life, and yet in our time world suicide is a real possibility and men of faith seek to reconcile the conflicting realities of God and nuclear stockpiles. As religionists, we are obliged to look squarely at the fact that the possibility of thermonuclear holocaust introduces an entirely new qualitative dimension into human affairs. It is our obligation not only to confront this new fact ourselves, but to seek to make men everywhere aware of it.

In the contemporary power struggle, the United States has deemed it necessary to develop increasingly powerful and sophisticated strength. But we have learned, to our dismay, that even the most awesome accumulation of thermonuclear power does not spell security. The United States is now the most powerful nation in the history of the world but, like all men everywhere in our tormented time, we live in mounting and fearful anxiety. We realize that ultimate security can be found only in genuine peace.

We, therefore:

  1. Express our wholehearted support of the nuclear test-ban treaty which has received the support of many of the nations of the world, as well as the gratitude of world public opinion. The test-ban treaty will slow the spread of nuclear weapons to countries which do not now possess them. It will diminish the danger of new radioactive fall-out from atmospheric tests. It will give nuclear nations a chance to develop confidence and trust in one another. Encouraged by this historic step, we urge the United States government to continue and intensify its efforts to reverse and control the nuclear arms race.
  2. Call upon the United States Congress to adopt legislation to expand the constructive work in which the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency is now engaged. We urge that this vital agency be made permanent and that its budget be enlarged to permit it to deal vigorously with the transcendent problems of planning a warless society. In this regard, we urge the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the United States Congress to intensify planning for the ultimate conversion of segments of the American economy from military use into to those peaceful purposes which will enhance human life when disarmament is secured.
  3. Appeal to the American people to be unflagging in support of the United Nations as the best available international machinery for resolving international disputes and reducing tension. We believe that the world powers should utilize United Nations procedures for major issues as well as for lesser disputes. The peace of the world requires the strengthening of the United Nations, the assurance of its adequate financing and the full utilization of its great potential for resolving such tension-producing situations as hunger, poverty and disease.
  4. Urge the administration to continue to seek peace through negotiations, maintaining flexibility, sensitive to the opportunities as well as the dangers of a quick-changing world. We must reject the voices of hysteria which unthinkingly confuse honest negotiation with appeasement, social revolution with communism and coexistence with treason.
  5. Call upon our congregations to study, the issues of world peace and to seek channels through which they may actively demonstrate their commitment to the ideal expressed in our liturgy that the Jewish people may be a messenger of peace to mankind.

It is our prayer-and our determination-that the leaders of diverse faiths may be impelled by the exigencies of the hour to work together on the paramount issues on the agenda of mankind: the lifting of the threat of thermonuclear war and the achievement of a just and honorable peace.