Where We Stand On Israel

Resolution Adopted by the




Adopted by the Board of

Central Conference of American Rabbi
March 26,



Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel and even

before, the Jewish People have stretched out their hands in friendship

to their Arab neighbors in the hope of achieving a relationship of

peaceful co-existence. That wish is clearly expressed in Israel’s

Declaration of Independence which remains a source of inspiration to

her to this day:


extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an

offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to

establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign

Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared

to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire

Middle East.”

Most of Israel’s leaders across the political spectrum have

repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to this notion and

preparedness to relinquish territory for the sake of peace. The

agreements signed with Egypt in September 1978 by Menachem Begin and

with Jordan by Yitzhak Rabin in October 1994 as well as the proposals

presented to the Palestinians by Ehud Barak at Camp David in July 2000

testify to that. It is our hope and prayer that that same spirit of

compromise will also in time bring the Palestinians back to the peace


Israel’s Right to


In addressing the current conflict,

we affirm Israel’s right as a Jewish State to live in peace and

security within recognized international borders. There is no other

nation on earth whose right to exist continues to be laid open to

question after over fifty years of statehood arrived at through

international recognition. The lessons of history have shown only too

clearly that the Jewish People has the right, the need, and the

justification to return to its ancient land after nearly 2,000 years

of statelessness and powerlessness and to be allowed to live in




Peaceful coexistence between

Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states based on justice and

mutual recognition is a moral necessity. It is clear that there will

be no final resolution to the Middle East conflict until each side

recognizes the fundamental justice and inalienable moral claims of the

other for independence and freedom.

A solution to the Palestinian right to political

self-determination cannot be achieved at the expense of Israel’s

right to exist as a Jewish democratic State with a Jewish majority.

While it is our hope that a Palestinian State will be established

through a process of negotiation – but only a state which would be

committed to peaceful co-existence with the State of Israel – we

reject the Palestinian demand for a right of physical return to the

State of Israel which would create in effect two Palestinian states.

It is our hope and prayer

that moderation and realism will ultimately prevail in the Middle East

and that a Palestinian leadership will emerge that has the courage and

the foresight to work honestly and vigorously to suppress hatred in

the schools, intolerance on the streets, religious fanaticism in the

mosques and the terror that results from them. Such steps on their

part will encourage the dialogue required to bring peace to the

region. Additionally, we call upon the North American rabbinate

actively to engage in dialogue with Muslim religious leadership. The

Muslim community should not remain silent in the face of such blatant

abuse of religion as noted above. We call upon Muslims in North

America actively to denounce hate speech in the guise of Islamic

religious teaching.

At the same

time, we call upon all segments of Israeli society and of the Jewish

people as a whole likewise to teach the messages of peaceful co-

existence, tolerance, democracy, deliberation, and the acceptance of

the rule of law.

The Peace


The peace process that resulted in

the Oslo Accords and led to the historic meeting between President

Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yassir Arafat on the White House lawn on

September 13, 1993, gave the world reason to believe that it would be

possible for Israel and the Palestinians to come to an accommodation

that would bring an end to the conflict.

However, the Palestinians rejected the proposals put

forward by former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak at Camp David and

demonstrated a lack of willingness to offer any counter-proposals. The

subsequent unwarranted and immoral Palestinian resort to violence and

terror that has plagued Israel ever since has shown that Yassir Arafat

is clearly unable or unprepared to take the necessary steps to reach

an agreement with Israel. Nevertheless, there are signs that there is

a younger generation of Palestinian leaders that is willing and able

to engage the Israelis in constructive discussions once Arafat has

left the scene. This gives cause for hope for the future.

Israel’s Right to Self-


We are united in the belief that

military force will not resolve the Middle East conflict.

Nevertheless, Israel has the right and moral obligation first and

foremost to protect the safety and security of her people. No nation

can be expected to sit back and allow its citizens to be slaughtered.

We support the Government of Israel in its war against terrorism and

its efforts to stop the people who execute, support and encourage it.

At the same time, we call on the government and the Israel Defense

Forces to be fully guided by the concept of tohar haneshek

(purity of arms), employing reasonable restraint and, while doing what

is necessary to protect human life, refraining from acts of collective

punishment. In the final analysis, we recognize that the war against

terrorism can only be a defensive measure at best until such time as

political negotiations can resolve the conflict.

We acknowledge and are deeply pained by the

immense suffering caused to Israelis as a result of the Palestinian

choice to resort to terrorism. We condemn without reservation the

actions of those who have brought terror to Israel’s towns and

streets in the name of their political and religious agenda.

We are acutely aware that

Israeli society has suffered emotionally, politically, and

economically as a result of the second Palestinian “intifada”

against the Jewish State. We are also painfully conscious of the

poverty and hunger which exist today within Israel’s poorer Jewish

and Arab populations. We, therefore, pledge ourselves to do all in our

power to assist her in every way at this difficult time.

In affirming that the first

obligation of any sovereign state is to defend its citizens, we reject

the simplistic moral equation that has been constructed by certain

observers of the Middle East conflict that would seek to draw a

parallel between the murderous actions of Palestinian homicide bombers

and the generally measured responses of Israel’s defense forces.

Whereas the proclaimed intention of the terrorists is to murder and

maim innocent men, women and children, Israel has not purposefully

targeted civilians and has frequently, as in Jenin, gone out of her

way to avoid casualties at great risk and also cost to her own

military personnel.

Affirming Human Rights and Justice for


We affirm Judaism’s deep religious

commitment to defend the human and civil rights of all created in God

‘s image. Israel’s Declaration of Independence also emphasizes

Israel’s commitment to the prophetic teaching of liberty, justice and

peace. The realization of these principles is a pre-requisite for

harmonious co-existence. This is of particular importance at this time

when Israeli Arabs’ and Palestinian rights are so adversely affected

by the current violent conflict. We are deeply pained by the growing

poverty and hunger within the Palestinian community. The current dire

situation of Palestinians is largely a bi-product of Palestinian

terror but the long-lasting occupation has contributed to the

Palestinians’ plight. We call on Palestinian as well as Israeli

leadership to address this immediately.

A Political


We urge the government of Israel to

continue to work towards a political solution to the Middle East

conflict and formulate those policies that will form the basis for

dialogue in the future. Ultimately, the Palestinian issue can only be

resolved through negotiations resulting from a shared yearning for a

secure and peaceful future and the vision of a world in which “nation

shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war

anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).


Broader Context of the Israel/Palestinian


The Palestinians have repeatedly

failed to take advantage of the historic opportunities granted them to

reach independence. However, we recognize that the Israel/Palestinian

conflict takes place in a global context that also includes the

relationship between the Arab world and democracy, the growth of

Islamic fundamentalism and the position of Israel as an outpost of

democratic values in a region of the world in which dictatorships,

monarchies and theocracies are the political norm.

We are also conscious of the fact that the

plight of the Palestinians has repeatedly been exploited by various

Arab states and potentates for their own political ends. Frequently,

oil rich nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, have been

prepared to finance terror against Israelis while doing little to

better the lot of those they term their brothers.

In this context and by contrast, we note

that both Arab nations and the world community have chosen to ignore

the fact that Israel has always opened her doors to refugees and has

served as a haven for some 600,000 Jews that were expelled or fled

from Arab lands following the establishment of the Jewish State. Their

children and grandchildren, now numbered in millions, are full

citizens of the country.


call upon the Palestinian diaspora in North America to take an active

part in the amelioration of the dire economic and social conditions of

Palestinians. We urge joint endeavors between Jewish and Palestinian

individuals and foundations in this critical work.



In addressing the territorial

issue, we believe that a return to the Green Line of pre-1967 days is

unrealistic. Any final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians

will need to take into account current circumstances and may require

territorial adjustments akin to those offered at Camp David.

In the context of a peace

agreement, it should be acknowledged that the 1949 cease-fire lines

were not secure borders. We believe that Israel has the right to

recognized and secure borders and, therefore, some settlements will

continue to exist within the re-drawn map of the State of Israel.

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip came about as a

result of a war not of her making.

Nevertheless, thirty-five years later, we

acknowledge that Israel’s presence there and the establishment of

certain settlements by governments of all political complexions have

served to deepen the sense of enmity and distrust felt by the

Palestinian population and thus are 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.

Yet, over 200,000 Israelis live in settlements on the West Bank and in

the Gaza Strip and deserve our support on a humanitarian basis. The

aim of this support should be to guarantee the health and security of

those who live in the settlements and should not be for expansion or


We recognize

that acceding to the Palestinian right to self-determination will

inevitably involve the evacuation from their homes of many settlers

currently living in areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Jews

willing to live peacefully under Palestinian rule should be able to do

so, just as Arab citizens of Israel live peacefully within Israel.



We commend the untiring efforts of

successive administrations of the United States government that have

sought to act as mediators in bringing the Middle East conflict to an

end. We again call upon the Bush Administration vigorously to engage

both Israel and the Palestinians in imaginative, bold and sustained

efforts to help bring to an end the current violence and to work

towards a just and lasting peace. At the same time, we defend the

right of Israel’s citizens, who live within a democracy, to be the

ultimate determiners of what is in the best interests of their


We commend all

those who seek to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians and

who work towards the achievement of a just solution to the Middle East


We Once

Again Affirm        

In addition to the above, we

reaffirm the positions expressed in the “Resolution on Peace in

Israel,” adopted by the Board of Trustees, June, 2001:

We call upon our Christian brothers

and sisters throughout the world to bear witness to that part of their

own early history which affirms the historic connection of the Jewish

People to the Land of Israel, the ancient temple and the city of


We call for

the immediate release of all Israeli MIA’s, including: Ron Arad, Adi

Avitan, Benyamin Avraham, Omar Sawaid, and Israeli civilian Elhanan


We call upon

the government and Jewish citizens of Israel to all in their power to

ameliorate the social, economic, and educational situation of Israel

‘s Arab citizens.


shalom v’rodfehu — Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm