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CCAR Resolution on the U.S.-Israel Relationship
March 23, 2017
Since its founding in 1948, the State of Israel has enjoyed a special relationship with the United States. President Harry S. Truman, against the advice of some of his senior advisors, became the first head of state to officially recognize the newborn nation, only hours after David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of a “Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.” Since that time, each subsequent American President has continued the close relationship forged from that moment.
The United States Congress has also maintained bipartisan support for the State of Israel, frequently recognizing the strategic importance of this free and democratic ally in the Middle East. Similarly, the Government of Israel, under every governing coalition, has consistently recognized the shared values between these two countries. Military and Intelligence cooperation are held in high regard. For example, while the text of the recently signed “Memorandum of Understanding,” has not yet been released, the 1981 MOU recognizes "the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations." Development of new military and commercial technologies has been mutually beneficial. Cultural and business cooperation has been a mainstay of this close relationship, with many U.S. high-tech companies maintaining research and development facilities in Israel. The U.S.-Israel relationship has been traditionally based on both a shared regional strategy and common values. As regional powers change within the Middle East, the United States and Israel share the value of perpetuating democracy and freedom, important now more than ever. Moreover, U.S. aid to Israel benefits the United States and its economy directly, as “Israel spends nearly 75% of U.S. aid in the U.S. to purchase military equipment.”[i]
Presidents of both American political parties have used great political capital over the years in efforts to create a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israel and its neighbors and between Israel and the Palestinian people. These efforts have been based on the goal of creating, through direct negotiations, a “two states for two peoples” resolution of the conflict that assures Israel’s security, democratic and Jewish character. American Presidents have played central roles in helping to negotiate peace agreements between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan, and have made commendable efforts toward facilitating peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Over the years, Israel and the United States have disagreed on policies from time to time, such as the Israeli settlement enterprise beyond the 1967 boundaries. American presidents and Israeli prime ministers have occasionally clashed personally. These disagreements have not weakened the close relationship between these two countries. Even when American administrations of both U.S. political parties have permitted the adoption of resolutions critical of Israel in the U.N. Security Council, a forum that has increasingly and pathologically focused upon Israel as if it were the only nation in the world where human rights may be at issue, the fundamental U.S.-Israel alliance has remained strong.
In recent years, however, there have been efforts among some elements in the pro-Israel American Jewish community and members of Congress to present support for Israel as a partisan issue. Some in the American Jewish community have used derisive language against those on the political Right or Left whom they regard as insufficiently committed to Israel’s best interests. While disagreements may arise on the policies of specific Israeli governments, we remain committed to maintaining and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis and its partners in the North American Reform Jewish community – notably the Association of Reform Zionists of America, the Union for Reform Judaism, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, among others – remain firmly committed to bipartisan support of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THAT THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS:
- Hereby declares its commitment to the unique relationship between the United States and the State of Israel, and affirms that this relationship transcends political parties and presidential administrations.
- Strongly supports continued U.S. economic and military assistance to Israel, which is beneficial to both nations.
- Supports efforts of American Presidents and their administrations to work closely with Israeli, Palestinian, and international partners, including Arab nations, to create the necessary circumstances that can facilitate negotiations leading to peace, never compromising commitment to Israel’s security as a democratic and Jewish State, and never abandoning the hope that Israel can live peacefully and securely alongside a future Palestinian State that fulfills the Palestinian people’s legitimate national aspirations and desire for sovereignty.
- Calls upon the United States to advocate for Israel in all international forums where Israel cannot do so effectively for itself, most notably as Israel’s unswerving ally at the United Nations.
- Encourages its members to engage with local and national political leaders to help them understand the unique nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and to continue to encourage bipartisan support for the State of Israel.
- Denounces all attempts to make U.S. support for Israel a partisan issue.
- Condemns all efforts from the right or from the left to demonize any pro-Israel group, defined as which is committed to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
- Commits its members to continue to educate our communities on the unique relationship between the United States and Israel.