Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
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Reform Jewish Movement Leaders Call for End of United Nations Sanction on Iraq

Yoffie & Menitoff: Judaism teaches us that the act of pikuach nefesh, saving of lives, takes precedence over almost anything else. With this in mind, we believe sanctions should immediately be lifted, to ensure that urgently needed food, water, and health supplies can most quickly reach those in need.


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Alexis Rice or Jacob Fain 202-387-2800

NEW YORK, May 20, 2003 - Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), and Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), issued the following joint statement urging the United Nations to lift sanctions from Iraq.

The complete statement follows:

Twelve years ago, following the war to liberate Kuwait, the United Nations imposed trade sanctions on Iraq until Iraq disarmed itself and dismantled its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. By limiting Saddam Hussein's regime's access to technologies that would enhance his weapons programs, these sanctions have prevented Iraq's leadership from threatening its neighbors with long-distance attacks of weapons of mass destruction, as it threatened Israel before the first Gulf War.

But, today, the usefulness of these sanctions has ended. Currently, international teams are searching for any remnant of the Iraqi weapons program, ready to destroy any weapons they find. With the fall of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, Iraq's neighbors need not constantly guard their boarders against a surprise assault. And thus now is the time to remove the shackles that bind Iraqi arms as they attempt to rebuild and to remove the sanctions that obstruct the reconstruction of a free Iraq.

Judaism teaches us that the act of pikuach nefesh, saving of lives, takes precedence over almost anything else. With this in mind, we believe sanctions should immediately be lifted, to ensure that urgently needed food, water, and health supplies can most quickly reach those in need. By lifting the sanctions hamstringing Iraq's rebuilding efforts, we would both save lives immediately, as well as hasten the reconstruction of schools, roads, and the infrastructure necessary to deliver services such as electricity to the population. Only by guaranteeing the wellbeing of Iraq's citizens can we hope to foster the creation of a new, free, democratic Iraq.

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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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