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House Addresses Iranian Threat, Passes Vital Sanctions Legislation

Saperstein: “We commend the House for voting to empower individual states to use this tool of economic diplomacy in a constitutional fashion.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Liz Piper-Goldberg
202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 14, 2009 – In response to the House’s passage of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The Reform Jewish Movement applauds today’s overwhelming and bipartisan House vote in support of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act. This bill’s passage is a significant step toward increasing targeted economic sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Jewish rules on just warfare eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately and create sustained and lasting damage to the environment. The threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons remains a serious concern to the United States, Canada, Israel, and the international community.

Economic sanctions are a powerful method to make clear to the Iranian government that the continued development of a nuclear weapons program is unacceptable. The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009, introduced in the House by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), gives states the necessary tools to choose to divest from Iran without worrying that such measures could be struck down as unconstitutional. Targeted economic sanctions against and divestment from Iran augment our diplomatic efforts and are necessary until there are significant assurances that the government of Iran has ceased all efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability.

This legislation is vitally important because much of the divestment work is carried out on a local level. We are proud that many of our congregations have played an active role in mobilizing successful divestment efforts on a state level. We urge all URJ congregations to participate in this vital work and renew their efforts now that this legislation is moving through Congress.

We commend the House for voting to empower individual states to use this tool of economic diplomacy in a constitutional fashion. We encourage the Senate to take the next steps with the companion legislation, S. 1065. Judaism demands that we “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15), and the passage of this legislation represents a concrete step toward a more peaceful world.


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. Visit for more.

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