Jews for peace with Iran
The statement by the Rabbis and cantors etc 1)“Step by Step toward Shalom with Iran”, is followed by an article by M.J. Rosenberg 2)Iran Negotiations: Thomas Friedman Takes on the Israel Lobby; the article by Thomas Friedman is, unfortunately, behind a 10-articles-only paywall.Meanwhile a poll last month by the American Jewish Committee shows 3) Jewish Support for Iran Strike Drops;
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow
November 24, 2013
By mid-morning of October 25, 113 Jewish clergy (Rabbis, Cantors, Maggidim, Kohanot) — — more than a minyan of minyanim — have signed the Rabbinic Statement “Step by Step toward Shalom with Iran.”
The process of working out the statement and then gathering signatures began four weeks ago.The 100th signature arrived after Shabbat ended on Oct.23, just minutes before breaking news reports came that the Great Powers and Iran had come to an interim agreement toward settling the major differences between them.
Luminaries of the Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and Humanist streams of Judaism have signed. Among them are Rabbis Leonard Beerman, Amy Eilberg, Sue Levi Elwell, Everett Gendler, Marc Gopin, Sharon Kleinbaum, Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Mordechai Liebling, Ellen Lippmann, Gerry Serotta, David Shneyer, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Jonathan Slater, Susan Talve, Arthur Waskow, and Sheila Weinberg, Cantor Steven Puzarne, and Rabbi/Kohenet Jill Hammer.
Please see below the full list of signers up to now.
The statement sets forth a balanced path of shalom that protects the peace and security of Israel, the US, and Iran — and is concerned with both immediate practical steps and the deepest of spiritual hopes.
Why do we think it important for Rabbis, Cantors, etc., to make public a statement along these lines?
For the deep past and the deep future — and for the fierce urgency of Now.
First, for the sake of publicly reaffirming, honoring, and embodying the powerful prophetic and rabbinic voice, now millennia-long, that has called on us all to “seek peace and pursue it.” One of the sacred Names of God is “Shalom.” To advance it is one form of making holy the Name – a nonlethal form of Kiddush HaShem.
Second, because in this moment the rabbinic voice can actually matter in the broader world. There is a real question whether the forward momentum of diplomacy so far can be maintained in the face of hostility from ultranationalist elements in Iran and demands for more draconic sanctions against Iran coming from some elements in Israeli and American politics.
The agreement calls for suspension of Iranian nuclear enrichment and reductions of the enrichment level of some nuclear materials, along with a partial easing of some sanctions. That would seem to be the first step – only the first step, but a necessary one – in seeking shalom and pursuing it for all the parties involved – Israel, Iran, the whole region, and the US.
Security for each people to live under its own vine and fig-tree with none to make them afraid.
As the debate intensifies between worsening threats and calming steps, we think the Rabbinic voice can make a difference.
Step toward Shalom with Iran
As Rabbis, Cantors, and other Clergy serving the American Jewish community, we are deeply committed, as Jewish tradition teaches –
§ to the shalom –- peace, social justice, functioning democratic process, and ecological sanity –of the country where we live – all of which would be damaged by still another unnecessary war;
§ to the shalom, peace and security, of the State of Israel, to its democratic character, and to its special relationship with the Jewish people;
§ to unequivocal action by all the Arab-majority and Muslim-majority states to make peace with Israel, and to Israel’s unequivocal action to make peace with all its neighbors, including an emergent Palestine;
§ to our respect and our prayers for salaam, peace and justice, among our cousins in the Abrahamic tradition, Arab and Muslim civilizations;
§ to the peace and prosperity of all the “70 nations” of the world;
§ and to the healing of our wounded planet.
2010, Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center speaks in favour of the proposed Islamic Community Centre to be built on a lot two blocks from Ground Zero. Photo by Reuters
For all these reasons, we welcome warmly the greatly increased possibility of a peaceful resolution of the conflicts among the US, Iran, Israel, and other nations.
We especially welcome the new attitudes toward the Jewish people and toward the nuclear issue set forth by the new President of Iran, and his assertion that Iran will never hold nuclear weapons. We also recall the repeated assertions and fatwas by Grand Ayatollah Khameini that for Iran to possess nuclear weapons would violate Islam.
We urge the US and Iran to move swiftly to agree on a step-by-step process of reducing and ultimately ending sanctions against Iran in accord with steps by Iran to make its nuclear research transparent and to allow verification that its research is directed wholly toward civilian uses of nuclear energy. We believe that such a step-by-step process is the best way to guarantee that both parties are fulfilling their commitments.
We urge Iran to make clear its full acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state in the fabric of international relations, protected like all other states from aggression and attack.
We urge the Government of Israel to welcome steps by Iran to make clear and verifiable its commitment to use nuclear energy and research for peaceful purposes only, not for pursuit of nuclear weaponry, and while this process is under way, we urge Israel to end hostile acts and statements toward Iran.
We urge the peoples of the United States, Iran, and Israel to reject and oppose all statements and actions from whatever source that undermine the swift and thorough achievement of agreements to ensure the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to end sanctions against Iran.
We urge the American people to recognize and do tshuvah (“turning” or “repentance”) for the ethical errors of our own government toward Iran – particularly, the US Government’s intervention in 1953 to overthrow the democratically elected reform government of Iran; US actions to support the tyrannical regime of the Shah until the Iranian people overthrew it in 1979; and US support for Iraq’s wars of aggression against Iran in the 1980s, including US support for Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons to kill 100,000 Iranians.
We urge the Iranian people to do tshuvah for their government’s demonization of the United States and Israel, for its holding US diplomats hostage for more than a year in 1979-1980, and for the support it seems to have covertly given for attacks on Israeli citizens.
We believe that this combination of governmental acts and public rethinking and re-feeling can move American society, the entire Middle East, and the world toward the shalom that Judaism yearns for.
To add your name to ours, please click here and be sure to list your prefix-title (Rabbi, Cantor, Hazan, Maggid, Kohenet) with your name and Email [this petition is for American Jewish clergy only].
Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Rabbi Everett Gendler, Rabbi Marc Gopin, Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Rabbi David Shneyer, Rabbi Susan Talve, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Sheila Weinberg,
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Rabbi Ethan Bai, Kohenet Ellie Barbarash, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi Eliot Baskin, Rabbi Renee Bauer, Rabbi Leonard Beerman, Rabbi Marjorie Berman, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Rabbi Binyamin Biber, Kohenet Shoshana Bricklin, Rabbi Jason Bright, Rabbi Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, Rabbi Joshua Chasan, Rabbi Andrea Cohen Kiener, Rabbi Hillel Cohn, Rabbi David J. Cooper, Rabbi Robert Dobrusin, Rabbi Art Donsky, Rabbi Doris Dyen, Rabbi Renee Edelman, Rabbi Diane Elliot, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, Kohenet Ahava Lilith EverShine, Rabbi Ted Falcon, Rabbi Charles Feinberg, Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Rabbi Fern Feldman, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Rabbi Nancy Flam, Rabbi Jeff Foust, Rabbi Ruth Gais, Rabbi Hillel Gamoran, Maggid Andrew Gold, Rabbi Dan Goldblatt, Rabbi Laurie Green, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Rabbi Moshe Halfon, Rabbi/ Kohenet Jill Hammer, Rabbi Edwin Harris, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Kohenet Judith Hollander, Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Rabbi Shaya Isenberg, Rabbi Burt Jacobson, Rabbi Josh Jacobs-Velde, Kohenet Sharon Jaffe, Rabbi Melissa Klein, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Rabbi David L Kline, Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Rabbi Douglas Krantz, Rabbi Hannah Laner, Rabbi Jason van Leeuwen, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Kohenet Carly “Ketzirah” Lesser, Rabbi Richard Levy, Rabbi Annie Lewis, Cantor Abbe Lyons, Rabbi Jeffrey Marker, Rabbi Nathan Martin, Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Maggid Melvin Metelits, Rabbi Yocheved Mintz, Kohenet Tiana Mirapai, Rabbi David Mivasair, Rabbi Lee Moore, Hazan Judith Naimark, Rabbi/ Kohenet Margie Klein Ronkin, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Cantor Aviva Rosenbloom, Cantor Richard Rosenfield, Rabbi Jeff Roth, Kohenet Mei Mei Sanford, Hazan Pamela Sawyer, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Chaim Schneider. Rabbi Randy Schoch, Kohenet Alumah Schuster, Rabbi Dr. Arthur Segal, Rabbi Jonathan Slater, Rabbi Eric Solomon, Cantor Robin Sparr, Rabbi David Spitz, Rabbi Toba Spitzer, Rabbi Margot Stein, Rabbi Naomi Steinberg, Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill, Rabbi Louis Sutker, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Rabbi Renae Toben, Rabbi Brian Walt, Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, Hazan Gregory Yaroslow, Rabbi Barbara Zacky, Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
Iran Negotiations: Thomas Friedman Takes on the Israel Lobby
By M.J. Rosenberg, Huffington Post
November 21, 2013
It’s been clear to me for about ten years that the primary problem the United States faces in crafting Middle East policy is not so much the Arabs or the Israelis. It is the Israel lobby (led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC but consisting also of other major organizations that include Israel in their portfolio).
Writing about the lobby’s influence (from the perspective of someone who had spent 20 years dealing with AIPAC as an aide to a senator and several House members), I initially felt like a voice in the wilderness. Yes, there were always people pointing to the power of the lobby but many of those had no use for Israel to start out with. For them, attacking the lobby is a subset of attacking Israel in general.
Don’t get me wrong. Although I support a secure Jewish State of Israel, I despise the policies of the Netanyahu government that are designed to either preserve the occupation or (and this is most relevant now) prevent a diplomatic resolution of the stalemate over Iranian nuclear development. Even if the lobby didn’t exist, I’d be vehemently condemning those policies.
Of course, if the lobby didn’t exist, the United States government would not have to spend much effort getting a country that is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in line, just as the bank which holds the mortgage has considerably more say than a property’s nominal owner. Not only do all other foreign recipients of U.S. aid have to comply with conditions set by Washington, so do all states and municipalities here in the United States. Only Israel gets what it wants, no strings attached.
All this is obvious. The problem is that virtually few media figures or politicians have the nerve to say it. Politicians depend on the lobby for campaign cash while media figures are rightly afraid that talking about the lobby will lead to advertiser and front office complaints and ultimately to the loss of their jobs.
Members of the All That’s Left activist group protest outside Naftali Bennett’s appearance at the 92nd Street Y., Manhattan, November 2013. Photo by Alex Kane
That is why, this week, the one media figure to speak out against the lobby’s efforts to sink a negotiated agreement with Iran is Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. Not coincidentally he is, by far, the most influential journalist on matters relating to the Middle East. Also, not coincidentally, he is Jewish, pro-Israel, has a raft of Pulitzer Prizes and makes a lot of money for the New York Times. He is, as the phrase goes, “too big to fail” or to be fired because he offends the powers that be.
And offend them he does, regularly, and most recently this week.
Here is what he wrote the other day about the effort of Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress to “stymie” President Barack Obama’s Iran initiative.
…never have I seen more lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans — more willing to take Israel’s side against their own president’s. I’m certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.
There it is. Friedman is saying what everyone knows but no one (of his stature) has had the nerve to say. The opposition to an Iran deal in Congress represents “tak[ing] Israel’s side against” the American president’s, but it’s also about campaign contributions.
He uses the phrase “never have I seen” twice in his column to stress that the lobby’s campaign to defeat an American president on an American security issue is unprecedented. These negotiations are not about the West Bank or Gaza, they are about the U.S. effort to prevent development of Iranian nuclear weapons without resorting to a war that would jeopardize American lives.
And yet the lobby believes, perhaps correctly, that campaign cash will cause both Democrats and Republicans to put the lobby’s interests above this country’s. Knowing this Congress and our major politicians, they may prevail, if not now then later in the process.
The only thing that can stop them is to have more Tom Friedmans step forward. If a significant number of figures in Congress or the media came forward and said that the lobby is using the influence of its cash to prevent a U.S.-Iranian deal, the lobby would back down.
And it’s not like there would be anyone to take their place on this issue. The only interest opposing an Iran deal is the lobby and its euphemistic cutout, the neocons. The Christian right opposes it too but, unlike Team AIPAC, it does not give campaign contributions based on this issue and it has zero influence among Democrats. On matters related to Israel, only the lobby matters.
This is not a case of being pro-Israel or anti-Israel. A nuclear agreement with Iran, one backed by safeguards and intrusive inspections, will protect Israel even more than it does the United States. (Nuclear armed Israel’s concern with Iran is almost purely about its potential economic and geopolitical clout, not about its theoretical nuclear bombs).
The bottom line then is whether the American government can pursue a strategic goal in the Middle East that is clearly in the interests of the American people. Or can it be thwarted by a lobby that is using its almost unlimited funds to advance other interests? Like the NRA, AIPAC pursues it agenda at the expense of the American people. How long can this go on?
We’ll have at least a partial answer before this week ends.
Below, demonstration in New York City against any war against Iran. Undated, from Stop War on Iran
Poll: Jewish Support for Iran Strike Drops
The United States Institute for Peace, The Iran Primer
October 23, 2013
Some 52 percent American Jews would support a U.S. strike on Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail, according to a new poll by the American Jewish Committee. In the 2012 poll, about 64 percent of respondents supported a strike. The organization noted a smaller drop in support for a potential Israeli strike, 67 percent in 2013 down from 72.5 percent in 2012.
American Jews were almost evenly divided in assessing the likelihood that diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. About 46 percent thought diplomacy and sanctions were very or somewhat likely to work while just over half disagreed.
When asked if they approved of President Obama’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program, 45 percent somewhat approved. The rest were split in their level of disapproval. A Pew Research poll released in October also showed that that about half of American Jews approve of President Obama’s Iran policy, compared with 45 percent of the public overall. The following are excerpted results with links to the full reports at the end.
2013 American Jewish Committee Survey
Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Obama is handling Iran’s nuclear program?
How concerned are you about the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons?
Very Concerned 55%
Somewhat Concerned 29%
Not Too Concerned 11%
Not Concerned At All 4%
How likely do you think that a combination of diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons?
Very Likely 10%
Somewhat Likely 36%
Somewhat Unlikely 27%
Very Unlikely 25%
If diplomacy and sanctions fail, would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
Support Strongly 24%
Support Somewhat 28%
Oppose Somewhat 28%
Oppose Strongly 17%
If diplomacy and sanctions fail, would you support or oppose Israel taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
Support Strongly 35%
Support Somewhat 32%
Oppose Somewhat 18%
Oppose Strongly 12%
Click here for the full AJC poll.