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November 24, 2005 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-11-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I World

Exit

Michael Jacobs

Jewish Renaissance Media

Houston
he central organization for
American Reform Jews
became the first national
Jewish group to take formal action
against the war in Iraq on Friday.
On a voice vote in a ballroom
named for President Bush's father
at Houston's George R. Brown
Convention Center, the more than
2,000 voting delegates at the Union
for Reform Judaism's biennial con-
vention enacted a resolution that
demands a clear exit strategy and
calls for the partial withdrawal of
American troops as soon as Iraq
completes parliamentary elections
now scheduled for Dec. 15.
The resolution calls the war
untenable and expresses "grave
concern" that Bush did not exhaust
all other options first, as the URJ
urged in 2002.
.
The delegates voted for more
transparency from the administra-
tion, more diligent oversight from
Congress, assurance of equitable
distribution of the costs of the war,
an independent commission to
examine the many failures
involved in the prewar intelligence
and conduct of the war, appropri-
ate protective gear for troops and
appropriate funds for wounded
personnel.
While the resolution condemns
"in the strongest possible terms"
any torture or other Geneva
Conventions violations, it does not
condemn the war itself or the Bush
administration's decision to invade
Iraq in early 2003.
It was the first time a Reform
convention took a stand on a spe-
cific war since late 1969, when del-
egates gathered in Miami Beach
demanded an immediate cease-
fire in Vietnam and a full troop
withdrawal by the end of 1970.
The resolution came from the
Reform grass roots instead of the
central body's Commission on
Social Action. Six temples in
California, New York, Washington
state, Massachusetts and
Pennsylvania brought the resolu-

T

36

Iraq

Reform Judaism expresses "grave concern"
over war and urges withdrawal to begin.

tion to the 68th Reform General
Assembly.

Dr. Michael Rankin, a retired cap-
tain in the Navy Reserve who rep-
resented temples in Vicksburg,
Miss., and Falls Church, Va.
Dr. Rankin said he wondered
Albright Speaks
almost
40 years ago how anyone
The assembly adopted the resolu-
could
justify
the carnage he saw
tion less than six hours after for-
around
him
in
Vietnam.
mer Secretary of State Madeleine
"Why
in
God's
name are we
Albright addressed the convention.
here?"
he
asked
then.
Her speech on the role of religion
He said no one has been able to
in foreign policy and the need to
answer
that question about
base decisions on what's best for
Vietnam,
and its even harder to
each individual hinted at criticism
answer
it
about
Iraq.
of Bush for losing the moral
"There
are
just
wars and unjust
imperative in U.S. actions over-
wars,"
he
said.
"This
is not a just
seas, but she never used the word
war."
"Iraq:'
Rabbi Yair Robinson of Shir
URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie
Ami
in Newtown, Pa., argued that
addressed that omission during a
the
resolution
was too diplomatic.
.question-and-answer session. He
"I
am
saddened
that this reso-
asked Albright's opinion on Iraq in
lution
speaks
not
with
moral clar-
light of the pending Reform reso-
ity, speaks without a sense of the
lution.
justice or injustice of this war','
"My own sense is that if
Rabbi Robinson said. He com-
President Gore had been reading
plained that the text focuses on
that intelligence, he would have
the unpopularity and lack of suc-
seen it very differently,'Albright
cess of the Iraq operation instead
said.
of whether it should have hap-
She said she agreed with the
pened in the first place.
U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in
"When will we have an oppor-
response to the Sept. 11, 2001, ter-
tunity as a union to speak about
rorist attacks but always opposed
the justice of this war, to speak
the Iraq invasion.
with moral clarity, to speak unam-
Now that the United States is in
Iraq, however, she called for a clear biguously about how wrong this
war was from the beginning and
exit strategy but advised against
continues to be?"
setting a deadline for troop with-
Only one delegate, Rabbi Jeffrey
drawal. She said the Clinton
Salkin of the Temple in Atlanta,
administration made the mistake
spoke against the resolution, and
of setting an impossible one-year
deadline for pulling out U.S. peace- he said he supported most of it.
But he said it was premature to
keepers when she negotiated the
talk about a timetable for with-
Dayton Accords to end the war in
drawal.
Bosnia.
Only a smattering of no votes
"It was like putting a gun to our
came from the crowd when the
head',' she said.
chairman of the URJ board of
trustees, Robert Heller, put the
question to the assembly minutes
Anti-War Tone
later.
Still, during the 15-minute after-
"The sentiment was clear and
noon debate on the resolution, the
-overwhelming;'
Rabbi Yoffie said
first speaker from the floor set the
in
a
statement.
"American
Jews,
anti-war tone.
and
all
Americans,
are
profoundly
"I find it difficult to speak dis-
critical of this war, and they want
passionately about this resolution,
this
administration to tell us how
and I hope that all of us find it dif-
and
when
it will bring our troops
ficult to speak dispassionately
home."
about the war in Iraq, whether or
not We served in the military" said

Above: Rabbi Yoffie

Right: Madeleine

Albright

November 24 2005

MN

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