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Union for Reform Judaism Disappointed by President’s Speech Citing Failure to Provide an Exit Strategy

Saperstein: The failure of the President in his speech last night to lay out any kind of exit strategy is a major disappointment. The nation and our troops deserve to hear a clear plan.

Contact: Rachel Slomovitz
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington, DC, January 11, 2007 – In response to President Bush’s speech last night outlining his plan for future U.S. engagement in Iraq, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

In 2005, the Union for Reform Judaism passed a resolution critical of the War in Iraq. We spoke out because the prophetic tradition, so central to American Jewish life, calls on us to address the great moral issues of our day. And no issue raises more urgent and challenging moral considerations for our nation (even while affecting particular Jewish concerns from the war on terrorism to stability in the broader Middle East region) than does the war in Iraq.

Our 2005 resolution called for the beginning of the withdrawal of American troops, the development of a clear exit plan and an expansion of efforts to strengthen and stabilize Iraqi democracy and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. The failure of the President in his speech last night to lay out any kind of exit strategy is a major disappointment. The nation and our troops deserve to hear a clear plan. The announced expansion runs counter to our resolution’s call for a reduction of troops and to the wide array of policy and military experts who have raised doubts about this strategy. While the President’s plan for additional troops is intended to enhance the stability of Iraq that we know is essential, we remain skeptical of the President’s assumptions and are concerned that the deployment may well have a destabilizing effect and will delay the process of Iraqis taking on greater responsibility for their fate.

We do, however, commend key parts of the President’s proposal that affirm our resolution’s approach: intensifying training of Iraqi troops and police, strengthening political democracy, expanding the rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure, and enhancing U.S. bi-partisan cooperation in confronting terrorism. All these long overdue steps are vital to strengthening Iraq and to a successful effort to curtail terrorism.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.




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