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United Jewish Community Urges Congress To Halt Cuts In U.S. Aid To Africa

Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Movements Join Call

WASHINGTON, July 1, 1997 -- Ten of the largest national Jewish organizations -- including the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements -- called on members of Congress to halt the disproportionate cuts in U.S. development assistance to Africa.

In a letter to senators and representatives dated June 17, they declared, "Failure to support these programs now will result in far greater economic, and, perhaps, military expenditures [later] as a result of emergency relief, crisis intervention, and refugee asssistance."

The letter was signed by the following organizations: American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B'nai Brith, Hadassah, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, National Council of Jewish Women, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The full text of the letter follows:

On behalf of the national Jewish organizations we represent, we urge you to support the Administration's $700 million earmark for the Development Fund for Africa, guaranteeing that US foreign assistance goes to the world's neediest populations. Any lower funding alternative for these life-preserving programs would have devastating effects on the health and survival of families and children throughout this region.

Judaism teaches that moral people and moral nations have an affirmative obligation to assist those less fortunate. Developmental assistance plays a vital role in the lives of those in the developing world by increasing the ability of families to be self-sufficient, granting them the freedom to create a better, safer, and healthier environment for themselves and their children.

The Development Fund for Africa helps support programs which save lives, promote democracy, prevent crises, and help create stability throughout the African continent. Long supported by the Jewish community, funding for these efforts meet our nation's strategic, economic, and moral interests by helping create peaceful, democratic, stable, and prosperous countries. Failure to support these programs now will result in far greater economic and, perhaps, military expenditures as a result of emergency relief, crisis intervention, and refugee assistance. Precisely because Africa is a continent that at one time faces such urgent crisis and offers such hope for the growth of democracy, the special response of an earmark is highly appropriate. We therefore urge you to support the earmark for the Development Fund for Africa, which was eliminated in last year's budget process, ensuring funding for these vital purposes.

The United States has particular obligations abroad to help resolve conflict, promote human rights and democratic values, alleviate human suffering, and facilitate the kind of sustainable development necessary to protect the global environment. Effective assistance for programs, like the DFA, is indispensable in the pursuit of such goals and is deserving of your full support.

Thank you for your consideration.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in 870 congregations throughout North America.




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