Coalition of Jewish Leaders Release Petition with Over 1000 Signatures Urging an End to the Iraq War
“Jews Against the War” (JAW) to deliver petition signed by members of every Jewish denomination to Congress and run it as an ad in a major Jewish publication
News Release
For Immediate Release: May 21, 2007
Contacts (available May 22-23): Zack Kaldveer, Publicist, 510-938-2664, Dr. Aryeh Cohen, 310-440-1262, Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, 626-798-1161
(CA) The day before Shavuot, a Jewish holiday marking the day the Torah was delivered at Mount Sinai, “Jews Against the War” (www.jewsagainstthewar.org) released a petition signed by over 1000 Jews, including members of every major religious denomination – from Orthodox to Conservative to Reform to Reconstructionist to Renewal – urging an end to the war in Iraq. The signatures were gathered during the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, and include the support of over 250 rabbis, educators and Jewish professionals.
JAW is a grassroots organization dedicated to ending the Iraq War and preventing one with Iran. The group will deliver the petition to every member of Congress and run it as an ad in a major Jewish publication. JAW was launched on March 19th 2007 – the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – to give voice to the majority of American Jews who oppose the war. A recent Gallup poll indicated that fully 77% of American Jews think the Iraq War was a mistake, compared with just 52% of the general American public. This disparity between the poll results versus the relative lack of an active and vocal Jewish effort to oppose the war was integral to the organization’s initial creation.
The Petition states, in part, “…the invasion of Iraq was not just and…the continued occupation extends this injustice…the “permission” to prosecute this war was gained under false pretenses by our president, and that the goals of the war were ill-considered, unrealistic, and poorly planned…we believe it is the moral responsibility of the current administration to end this war! We ask that Congress set hard and fast limits on the ability of the President to expand this war or to extend it further in a military action against Iran.”
“The outpouring of support we’ve received from Jewish religious leaders of every major denomination is unprecedented on an issue as traditionally divisive to our community as war with an Arab nation,” said Dr. Rabbi Shaul Magid, Indiana University. “This response has strengthened our resolve and validated our belief that a silent Jewish majority that was waiting, ready, and eager to speak out is emerging. Today we join together and speak as one: end this disastrous war and bring our troops home.”
The ongoing human tragedy the war has created is indisputable: over 3,400 U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s have died; hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians have been wounded and maimed, many permanently; millions of Iraqi’s have been forced to flee their homes; the country is embroiled in a civil war in which Iraqi’s and Americans are still being killed every day; more than 75% of Iraqi citizens oppose the U.S. occupation, and for the first time, over half the members of Iraq’s parliament want America to leave their country; and finally, the reputation of the U.S. in the region has been destroyed, affecting its ability to have a positive influence in the future.
“Shavuot marks the day the Torah ‘all of whose paths are peace’ was received by the Jewish people,” said Prof. Aryeh Cohen, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University. “As we celebrate that day at Mount Sinai, when the Torah was revealed, we are called on to rid ourselves of Pharaoh – representing the violent delusions of the efficacy and justice of military might. Right now, there is no more righteous a calling than for every Jewish American that believes this war was a mistake to join us in working to end it.”
“Today’s petition represents a sea change in the Jewish community’s commitment to ending this war. No longer is the ‘safe road’ of silence acceptable – a road that has kept too many too quiet for too long,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, a pulpit rabbi in Southern California. “The revelation of the Torah on Shavuot united our people around the principles of justice, righteousness and peace. The tragedy unfolding in Iraq calls us to unite again in defense of those same sacred principles. So today we shout with conviction: end the war, open a dialogue with Arab nations in the region, and begin the healing!”
JAW plans to continue to gather signatures on their website (www.jewsagainstthewar.org), host “out of Iraq” teach-ins nationwide, place anti-war ads in Jewish publications, and build and mobilize the growing Jewish opposition to the war until it is over.