April 23, 2014 · 23 Nisan

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Reform Jewish Movement Praises Bush for Leadership During U.N. Conference Against Racism

Saperstein: "Going to Durban and fighting for our shared principles was a powerful demonstration of American moral leadership."

Contact: Alexis Rice or Rachel Burrows (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2001 -- In a letter to President George W. Bush, the Reform Jewish Movement expressed appreciation for the U.S. opposing attempts to change the objectives of the United Nations' World Conference Against Racism.

The complete letter follows:

    We had drafted the following letter before the tragic events of September 11th. In addition to the sentiments expressed below, we want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you as you lead our nation in this challenging hour.

    On behalf of the 900 synagogues of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, encompassing over 1.5 million people across North America, I want to express our gratitude for the leadership you demonstrated in opposing attempts to corrupt the vital objectives of the United Nations' World Conference Against Racism

    The work of your administration in opposition to the equation of Zionism with racism, your attempts to ensure that Israel was not singled out in the Conference documents, and your commitment to resist efforts to minimize the evil of the Holocaust have all been both widely noticed and deeply appreciated in our community. Sadly, it seems that even the most heroic of efforts could not have altered the course of events. Durban was supposed to symbolize hope: If South Africans could triumph over apartheid, others, too, can alter the tides of oppression. Instead, the United States' delegation, Israel's delegation, and Jewish non-governmental organizations drowned in the rhetoric and subversive tactics of those who sought not to combat racism but to enable it.

    Going to Durban and fighting for our shared principles was a powerful demonstration of American moral leadership. Although the opposition successfully silenced the voices of reason, righteousness and equality, your steadfast and courageous leadership will long shine as a beacon in this dark time. The Jewish people are not the only victims; we share our disappointment with all who attempted to pursue the legitimate goals of the Conference. We share our disappointment with all who continue to taste the bitterness of racism. We hope that, despite all that transpired, the United States will answer the United Nations' call to eradicate discrimination and intolerance both at home and abroad. And we stand ready to assist you in that effort.

    Sincerely,

    Rabbi David Saperstein



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