Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Arab American Institute Host Capitol Hill Briefing with Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families Forum For Peace
Saperstein: "The bond of losing a loved one is one that transcends political boundaries."
Contact:Alexis Rice, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Jenny Salan, Arab American Institute
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2002 - As American Mid-East Envoy General Anthony Zinni attempts to re-start cease-fire talks in the Mid-East, the Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families Forum for Peace, a delegation representing 350 Palestinian and Israeli families whose loved ones were killed in the ongoing violence in the region, urged Congress and the Bush Administration to intervene in order to stop the violence and urge the two sides to return to the negotiating table.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Arab American Institute, in cooperation with Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), hosted the Forum for a Capitol Hill breakfast briefing today.
Aaron Barnea, an Israeli spokesman for the Forum, said, "The natural reaction of someone who has lost their child is vengeance. The revolutionary call of this group is to think in terms of dialogue. Vengeance only brings us closer to death. People should know and think about the price of war, not just the price of peace."
Palestinian Salama Temeiza suffered the loss of his son to the violence of the last 17 ½ months in the region. He is a member of the Forum because he feels "Palestinian and Israelis want to live together….We want reconciliation… We want to work for justice, peace, equal rights for both sides." His eloquent plea for the U.S. to become more involved in bringing the sides back to the negotiating table was moving. "We don't want other families to taste what we taste."
After hearing the tragic stories of these parents' loss, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, commented that "The bond of losing a loved one is one that transcends political boundaries."
"These survivors reminded us all that when discussing peace, instead of fixating solely on the compromises peace requires, all parties must consider first the costly price of continued violence. As these families work together to build peace and reconciliation, the United States must do more to help the parties get back to negotiations," said Jennifer Salan of the Arab American Institute.
Yitzhak Frankenthal founded the Bereaved Families Forum after he lost his son to violence. An orthodox Jewish Israeli, he does not want his son's death to have been in vain, and has since dedicated his life to working toward a solution so that Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace.
Frankenthal stated that the Forum was here to "ask leaders in the U.S. and U.N. to do something to show leaders in Israel how to make peace." He urged the U.S. and the U.N. to "stop sitting on the side…and do everything you can to say: Stop shooting each other and begin talking."
In his closing remarks, Rabbi Saperstein stated, "The message of this group that resonates so strongly is that those who died will not have died in vain. Our work to bring peace is the greatest tribute."
This event also was sponsored by Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice, the Reform Jewish Movement's campaign to support peace efforts and social justice causes in Israel.
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 .