Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

Israel

Adopted by the CCAR at the 94th Annual Convention of
the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Los Angeles, March 13-16, 1983

The following, which was passed by the Conference at the Los Angeles convention on March 15, 1983, after discussion and amendments, is the beginning of a process of discussion by the regions of the CCAR. The operative clauses are unnumbered paragraphs three and four, stating our intention to join with the UAHC in "a period of study and debate on those great and complex issues" and to "call upon the regions of the CCAR to participate in a year-long program of analysis and dialogue with the aim of defining the areas of consensus and the direction of action we as a Conference ought to pursue regarding the following issues..."
        
The numbered paragraphs which follow contain affirmations which are suggested as the subject matter for such deliberations.
        
A letter is going to our regional presidents asking them to begin the process prior to their 1983-1984 Kallot, so that all members, when they gather, will be prepared for such discussions.

Forty years after the Central Conference affirmed the compatibility of Reform and Zionism, after it reunited Jewish religious values and Jewish aspirations for national redemption, we are now called upon to strive to define the nature of Jewish Nationalism in the context of our religious, Reform tradition. This is a difficult task, but it is inspired by many years of devotion to Israel, during which our movement has established its world headquarters in Jerusalem, built its HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, its Leo Baeck High School in Haifa, its two kibbutzim in the Arava, established ARZENU, its Zionist body, and achieved much more. The gates through which we have passed during these few decades had been opened for us by Abba Hillel Silver, Stephen S. Wise, James Heller, Barnett Brickner, and the many others in the 1920s and 1930s. No less significant is that at the very inception of the CCAR, toward the end of the nineteenth century, eminent rabbis who had attained honor within this Conference were also distinguished leaders in American Zionism, among them Bernhard Felsenthal and Maximilian Heller. They and others less well known were the pioneers of Zionism during the very beginnings of our movement.
        
We raise the issue of the nature of Jewish statehood because this has been a time of collective distress over the anguish through which Israel and the Jewish people have been passing. This is also a time of vindication of Israel's unparalleled sense of justice. Jews on various sides of conflicting issues are prompted by the deepest commitment to the cause of Israel. Nothing less than identification with the ancient covenant of our people binds us now to Israel and its destiny. Our differences are "leshem shamayim (for the sake of heaven)." Let no one expect to divide us on issues of ultimate moment. We stand as one in our commitment to the sovereignty and security of Israel on land that may neither be partitioned again without Israel's consent, nor deprived of its Jewish character. We stand as one on the unity of Jerusalem as the political capital of Israel and the spiritual capital of the Jewish people, whose ages-long struggle against anti-Semitism is continued in the form of resisting enmity toward Israel. We stand as one in our determination to resist efforts at imposing a settlement or coercing Israel and the Jewish people. We stand as one in insisting that Israel, which has been deprived by its enemies of even one day of peace, cannot make meaningful concessions without assurances that its sovereignty is recognized, and oft-proclaimed designs to overthrow it are withdrawn. We rejoice over the vitality of democratic and Jewish values in Israel, as represented by the Kahan Judicial Commission of Inquiry report.
        
We join the Board of Trustees of the UAHC in calling upon all Reform congregations in North America to enter into a period of study and debate on those great and complex issues which evolve from the Jewish people's covenantal ties with the State of Israel.
        
We call upon the regions of the CCAR to participate in a year-long program of analysis and dialogue with the aim of defining the areas of consensus and the direction of action we as a Conference ought to pursue regarding the following issues:

1. We affirm the necessity of dialogue and discourse with the state of Israel on all matters touching upon Kedushat Ha-am and Kedushat Ha-arets (the sacred dimensions of People and of Land). We similarly reaffirm the freedom of the pulpit and the propriety of reasoned expression of diverse opinions. The cause of Israel is not served when its advocates deny to it the best of their critical and constructive advice which seeks to strengthen Israel and its special relationship with the United States.

2. As those who have historically appealed to the prophets, we look to them and to those teachings which have evolved from them to gain an understanding of the necessary interaction of power and morality in current Jewish life. The exercise of power by the Jewish State should reflect the moral integrity of Jewish concerns.

3. We acknowledge the diverse meanings embedded within the term "Centrality." Not demanding exclusivity, we affirm the historic centrality of the State of Israel for the Jewish people even as we acknowledge our abiding commitment to the North American Jewish community and to Jewish communities all over the world particularly communities at risk. Israeli Jewry and world Jewry must seek ways to intensify their sacred partnership.

4. Reconciliation between Jews and Arabs is a goal toward which we strive and which we believe can be achieved, and one which requires flexibility and willingness to sacrifice on all sides. In discussions leading toward structures of peace, concern for secure borders and political and military stability need to be seen as compatible with human rights and justice for all.

5. While Israel itself must be the judge of its own security needs, these decisions also have a fundamental impact on the moral character of Jewish life and on the democratic nature of the Jewish state. We believe that the legitimate demands of security for Israel can--and must--be reconciled with the dignity, human rights, and the right of self-determination of Palestinian Arabs. We, therefore, support the concept of territorial compromise, including a temporary cessation of further settlement activities on the West Bank, with the goal of encouraging Jordanian and Palestinian participation in the peace process.

6. Our commitment to pluralism in Israel, as elsewhere, is multi-dimensional. We reject attitudes which ignore the religious, cultural, and ethnic rights and concerns of Edot Hamizrach , Israeli Arabs, Ethiopian Jewry, as well as of Reform and Conservative Jewry. Pluralism offers the promise of full equality and freedom, whereas coercive denial of these rights is a threat to the survival of the Jewish state.

7. The encouragement of Aliya as an option within the diverse expressions of Reform Judaism remains in the long-term interest of our movement as well as of Israel.

8. We commend those of our colleagues actively involved in the United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds, Interns for Peace, New Israel Fund, and Institutions of Reform Judaism in Israel, and other such positive programs which offer practical support and ever-growing strength to the State of Israel as she enters her 36th year.

As we now embark upon a year of committed study and open dialogue, so do we renew our commitment to the vitality, integrity, and well-being of the State of Israel.