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Reform Jewish Movement Urges President Bush to Grant Supplemental Aid to Israel

Saperstein: Providing this desperately needed financial support to Israel, thereby enabling the Israeli government to refocus its energy on the peace process, is one of the best ways for the United Sates to promote peace and stability in the Middle East.


Contact:
Alexis Rice or Ariella Thal 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2003 - In a letter to President George W. Bush, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, urged the President to grant the supplemental aid requested recently by Israel. The aid package, which would include $4 billion in security assistance and $8 billion in loan guarantees, would help the country cope with the consequences of the current Intifada, including increased security needs and an economy devastated by diminished tourism and investment. Additionally, Rabbi Saperstein sent a similar letter to Members of Congress.

The complete letter to the President follows:

    Dear President Bush:

    Over the last two years, you have demonstrated consistently your firm support for the State of Israel. The Reform Movement in the United States is greatly appreciative of your continued commitment to Israel, her citizens, and their security. We believe that continued American support for Israel - both diplomatic and financial - has never been more crucial than it is today.

    At the beginning of this year, in recognition of the tremendous security challenges it now faces, the government of Israel requested $4 billion in military aid and $8 billion in loan guarantees from the United States. I write now to urge you to provide Israel with this necessary financial assistance. As you know, Israel is currently facing acute security concerns and the most serious financial pressures the country has experienced in years. Further straining the Israeli economy are the costs Israel is incurring as it prepares for a possible war with Iraq. Providing this desperately needed financial support to Israel, thereby enabling the Israeli government to refocus its energy on the peace process, is one of the best ways for the United States to promote peace and stability in the Middle East.

    We know that some have urged you to make approval of the aid conditional upon Israel taking specific steps to advance the peace process. While the Reform Movement is firmly committed to both the health of the Israeli economy and the success of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we oppose such conditions, including tying the loan guarantees to a settlement freeze. The Reform Movement recognizes that the settlements are an impediment to peace and believes that none of the money included in this aid package should be spent in the West Bank and Gaza. However, we believe that the alleviation of daily hardship for the Israeli people and the provision of resources for Israel's security needs should not be held hostage to unresolved issues in the peace process.

    For fifty-five years, the United States has been Israel's most important ally, and Israel, as the sole democracy in the Middle East, is an undeniably critical ally for America. I know you recognize the unique relationship between the two nations and I have confidence that you will continue to take every opportunity to aid Israel in its pursuit of peace and security.

    Sincerely,
    /s/
    Rabbi David Saperstein
    Director
    Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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    The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .




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