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4,000 and Counting: Reform Jewish Movement Mourns Continuing Loss of Life in Iraq

Pelavin: "The solemn milestone we have reached this week as we mourn the loss of the 4,000th U.S. soldier leads us to reflect that while we may have begun this war with the justifiable goal of deposing a dictator and enhancing world safety, we continue fighting in Iraq without a clear vision for a sustainable peace, without a timetable for withdrawal, and without a metric for success."

Contact: Jonah Perlin or Sean Thibault
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington, D.C. March 25, 2008- Marking the 4000th American casualty in Iraq, as well as the recent fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism issued the following statement:

“Each American life lost over the last five years of our military involvement in Iraq has created a tragic and profound hole that will never be filled in the lives of family, friends and loved ones.  The solemn milestone we have reached this week as we mourn the loss of the 4,000th U.S. soldier leads us to reflect that, while we may have begun this war with the justifiable goal of deposing a dictator and enhancing world safety, we continue fighting in Iraq without a clear vision for a sustainable peace, without a timetable for withdrawal, and without a metric for success.  
Jewish values demand of us that we "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15). Current U.S. policies in Iraq are not succeeding in creating peace. After five years of this war, the world is arguably less safe, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed, and Iraq's infrastructure remains unstable. And we are still not coming to grips with the economic costs of the war, which some now estimate to be more than $3 trillion, or $15 billion each month.

 While we recognize that the surge has sharply reduced the number of fatalities in many areas of the country, we join with the broad array of political and military leaders who believe that military progress alone will not make the changes necessary for long term success in Iraq.  We believe that a call for a phased withdrawal will help keep the kind of political pressure on Iraq's leaders that can lead to these necessary changes.

 On this grim occasion, we say again: It is time to pursue a new strategy which better protects the troops who remain in Iraq and also begins to withdraw them in the most expeditious way possible. Our men and women in uniform and their families deserve nothing less."

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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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