August 23, 2014 · 27 Av

Join Us

Key Topics

Give

Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Blasts Calls for Berger Resignation

Contact: Raanan Weintraub, (202) 387-2800 or Emily Grotta, (212) 650-4227


Yoffie, Kroloff and Saperstein: "Mr. President, some opponents of the peace process are wrenching Mr. Berger's words out of context, and distorting them beyond recognition. We want you to know that those who are doing so do not speak for the vast majority of American Jews... We find it incomprehensible that any rational reader of these remarks would reach the conclusion that Mr. Berger sees a 'blessing' in 'violence.'"

WASHINGTON June 6, 2000 — The Reform Jewish Movement today responded to calls for National Security Advisor Sandy Berger's resignation with a letter to President Clinton, praising Berger's long history of work with the Jewish community and sharply rebuking those who wish to see him dismissed and the Mid-East Peace Process derailed. (Those who have criticized Berger's comments from a May 21st speech in Tel Aviv claim that they amounted to praise of ethnic violence between Israelis and Palestinians.)

In a recent speech, Berger argued that the need for progress in the Middle East is made more palpable by "friction" and "violence in the region." However, Berger also clearly stated that violence has no place in the peace process: "Solutions must be found around a negotiating table, through dialogue and not on the streets through violence. Peace can not be made through intimidation and it will not result from fear."

"We find it incomprehensible that any rational reader of these remarks would reach the conclusion that Mr. Berger sees a ‘blessing' in ‘violence,'" wrote theleaders of the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of the American Jewish community, encompassing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,700 Reform rabbis. Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Charles Kroloff, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, joined together to assure President Clinton of the mainstream American Jewish community's support for Berger and the Administration's crucial role in the Mid-East peace process.

According to Yoffie, Kroloff, and Saperstein, "Some opponents of the peace process are wrenching Mr. Berger's words out of context and distorting them beyond recognition...Mr. Berger enjoys our full support. We have been, and continue to be, grateful for his leadership not only on peace process issues, but in helping you to chart an appropriate course for the United Sates in the world community."

The complete text of the letter to President Clinton follows:

Dear Mr. President:

We have recently become aware of the criticism your National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, has received from some in the American Jewish community, including, outrageously, calls for his resignation. On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the other organizations which comprise the Reform Movement — the largest segment of the American Jewish community-we write today to make clear that Mr. Berger enjoys our full support. We have been, and continue to be, grateful for his leadership not only on peace process issues, but in helping you to chart an appropriate course for the United States in the world community.

We have now had the opportunity to read Mr. Berger's comments that has come so heavily under attack. In discussing the urgent need to move beyond the status quo in the Middle East, Mr. Berger argued that the need for progress is made more palpable by "friction" and "violence" in the region. He termed that "the blessing and the curse of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship," saying, wisely, that "the tragedy that awaits in the event of inaction also constitutes the greatest incentive for immediate action."

We find it incomprehensible that any rational reader of these remarks would reach the conclusion that Mr. Berger sees a "blessing" in violence. In fact, just a few lines later Mr. Berger makes clear that violence has no place in the peace process, saying "Solutions must be found around a negotiating table, through dialogue and not on the streets through violence. Peace can not be made through intimidation and it will not result from fear."

Mr. President, some opponents of the peace process are wrenching Mr. Berger's words out of context, and distorting them beyond recognition. We want you to know that those who are doing so do not speak for the vast majority of American Jews.

Further, we reject the suggestion that one phrase in one speech could be used so viciously against such a distinguished public servant. One need look no further than the very speech Mr. Berger gave that day in Tel Aviv to get a feel for his understanding of the complex issues at play in the Middle East, and his firm, unshakeable support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Indeed, the current strength of that relationship is a testament, in no small part, to Mr. Berger's work.

We know that these are critical days for the peace process. We wish you success in your meeting today with King Abdullah, our thoughts are with Secretary Albright in her meetings this week in the Middle East, and our abiding appreciation is with Mr. Berger for the lasting contribution he is making toward enhancing the security and well-being of both the U.S. and Israel.

Respectfully,

/s/
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations

/s/
Rabbi Charles Kroloff
President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

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

###

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing its 895 congregations across North America, whose membership includes 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the 1700 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.



Chai Impact Action Center
Take action on these top issues!

 

 
Travel Justly, Social Action Prayers, Program Bank, Holiday Guides Travel Justly Social Action Prayers Social Action Program Bank Holiday Guides
© Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, 1996-2013
View our Privacy Statement
URJ CCAR