Saperstein: “We are hopeful that today’s speech, which was broad in its scope and ambition, will form a solid basis for U.S. Middle East policy.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 4, 2009 – In response to President Obama’s speech today in Cairo, Egypt, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
President Obama’s speech in Cairo comes at a moment in history that is ripe with challenge and opportunity. Importantly, the President squarely addressed these circumstances. He made it clear that the United States and Israel have an unbreakable bond and spoke forthrightly about the need for the Palestinians to abandon violence if their hopes for a state are to be achieved. And he was clear in recognizing the urgency of addressing Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and his support for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. His denunciation of Holocaust denial was particularly welcome. It should be noted, of course, that Israel’s 3000 year old claim to legitimacy was enhanced by but not rooted only in the centuries of persecution and the Holocaust to which he alluded.
We are hopeful that today’s speech, which was broad in its scope and ambition, will form a solid basis for U.S. Middle East policy. History has shown that U.S. leadership is critical to advancing the cause of peace. To that end, we look forward to working with President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to realize a peaceful and secure future for Israel and her neighbors.
President Obama also devoted a significant portion of today’s speech to the importance of religious freedom and interreligious dialogue. We share the President’s view of such freedom as central to humanity, and fostering dialogues and cooperative endeavors between individuals of differing faith traditions has long been a priority for the Reform Movement.
We continue to reject those who seek to conflate political differences with religious discord. And we take strength from the diversity of the fabric of religious life in America. At a time in civilization when there is boundless opportunity for men and women to see, hear, and know those in other countries and cultures with whom they share the earth, we must coalesce around what we have in common, rather than what differentiates us. We applaud President Obama for his work to build bridges across faiths and will continue to join him in these efforts.
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 1,800 Reform rabbis.