Yoffie: Jewish leaders have ‘heads in sand’ on settlements


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The leader of the Reform movement said U.S. Jewish leaders have their "heads in the sand" when it comes to Israeli settlements.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, on Monday addressed the inaugural conference of J Street, a group that backs a two-state solution and says settlement expansion frustrates peace efforts.

Yoffie said Israel and its American defenders who fail to deal with settlements beyond the West Bank security barrier are abetting those who advocate a "one-state" solution that would end Israel’s Jewish character.

"Too many American Jewish groups have their heads in the sand on these matters," he said. "You cannot convince Americans that it makes sense for an Israel that supports a Palestinian state to maintain a large settler population in the heart of the West Bank where that state must come into being. The simple fact is that it makes no sense at all and Americans, being a sensible people, know that."

Yoffie’s comment drew applause from the crowd, but was booed later for criticizing Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist who chaired the United Nations commission that issued a report stating that Israel and Hamas might be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"Richard Goldstone should be ashamed of himself," Yoffie said, "for working under the auspices of the U.N. Human Rights Council."

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