Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Anti-Bibi: Rabbinical Voices in U.S.

You could read every word in the mainstream press today about the Iran nuclear agreement, listen to every prattling face on what TV calls newscasts, and you'd still not be aware of one of the most significant reactions to the event.

Bibi says this, the Brits raise these questions, Kerry says that, the White House blah blither, blah, blather, blah, argle, bargle . . .

Heed thee this from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, courtesy of the eminent Middle East scholar, William O. Beeman of the University of Minnesota and Stanford University:

One hundred Jewish clergy (Rabbis, Cantors, Maggidim, Kohanot) – – 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 shortly after Shabbat ended last night, 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 already signed.

The text of the Rabbinic statement follows:

 Step by 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.

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.