Building Of A Defensive Barrier Between Israel And Palestinian Communities

Resolution Adopted by the CCAR


Adopted by the 115th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Toronto, Canada
June, 2004

And my people shall live in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwelling places and in quite resting-places. (Isaiah 32:18)


Justice, only justice shall you pursue, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Adonai your God gives you. (Deuteronomy 16:20)

“Justice, justice shall you pursue”… [the repetition implies that justice is to be pursued] whether it is to your benefit or to your loss. (Ramban on Deuteronomy 16:20)

WHEREAS, Israel is under continuing severe threat from sworn enemies, and

WHEREAS, the Palestinian Authority has done virtually nothing of substance either to curtail indiscriminate terrorist attacks aimed at taking Israeli lives or to control the culture of violence and hatred which still permeates Palestinian classrooms and airwaves, and

WHEREAS, nearly 1,000 men and women, from infants to the elderly, have died in such terrorist attacks, and thousands have been wounded, since the Fall of 2000, and

WHEREAS, Israel has the legal right and moral responsibility to defend its citizens, and

WHEREAS, acts of self-defense designed “to save the people of Israel from an enemy coming at them.” are rightly considered as — mandated war (Maimonides, Yad Hachazakah, Book of Judges), and

WHEREAS, security barriers have been effective in diminishing terrorist capabilities in the cases of the Gaza Strip and the Border with Lebanon, and

WHEREAS, Jewish ethics consistently places the protection of human life over the protection of property, and

WHEREAS, diverse Israeli groups across the political spectrum maintain that the construction of a security barrier is the best path to self-defense under the current conditions, and yet

WHEREAS the Hebrew prophets, living in times of war in a Jewish sovereign nation, taught of the close interconnection between peace, security, justice and fairness:

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and security forever. (Isaiah 32: 17), and

WHEREAS, diverse Israeli groups and individuals including the Attorney General, the five most recent heads of the Shin Bet, Israeli human rights groups like B’tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights, as well as the US and Canadian governments have raised political and/or humanitarian concerns about the specific route of the security barrier, and

WHEREAS, Israel has already demonstrated willingness to move or remove sections of the barrier because of political and/or humanitarian concerns, and

WHEREAS, Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has proposed that Israel withdraw unilaterally from Gaza and portions of the West Bank, and

WHEREAS, the CCAR has endorsed a vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis reiterates its total condemnation of the murderous acts of terrorism that continue to be perpetrated in the name of Palestinians and which are the impetus for the popular support within Israel for this barrier. We again call upon the Palestinian leadership to have the courage and the foresight to do everything possible to suppress hatred in the schools, intolerance on the streets, religious fanaticism in the mosques and the terror that results from them, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR supports the right of Israel to take appropriate actions in defense of its citizens, including constructing a security barrier close to the Green line, with adjustments for the Jerusalem area, yet

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR opposes any barrier whose purpose or effect is to:

  • define a permanent border between Israel and a future Palestinian State, the borders of which must be determined through a process of negotiation,

  • further ensconce Jewish settlements in the West Bank rather than to safeguard Israeli troops, or prevent terrorist actions against civilian populations,

  • prevent the emergence of a two state solution, or

  • cause severe violation to property, livelihood, and human rights of significant numbers of Palestinians through expropriation of land, surrounding or cutting in half particular Palestinian cities, towns or villages, or making farmland inaccessible, except when no other functional option exits.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, while we have no objections to barriers built to protect lives of Jews in the West Bank in areas heavily populated by Palestinians, as long as they do not extend beyond the built up areas of the settlements, we view these as temporary security barriers to be dismantled upon the evacuation of the settlements, and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we affirm our position that “the establishment of certain settlements by governments of all political complexions [has] served to deepen the sense of enmity and distrust felt by the Palestinian population and thus [is] an impediment to peace. We reiterate our call to the government of Israel to adopt a policy of neither building nor expanding settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.” We support Prime Minister Sharon in his efforts unilaterally to dismantle settlements in Gaza, and, in this spirit, call as well for the ultimate removal of those Israeli settlements whose location will impede the establishment of a territorially contiguous Palestinian entity on the West Bank and create unnecessary friction with local Palestinian populations, risk to Israeli soldiers, and the need for this security barrier in the middle of Palestinian lands, and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CCAR encourages the Israeli government to compensate Palestinian landowners for loss of the use of property without requiring them to relinquish title for purposes of future claims.