WASHINGTON (JTA) — In initial statements, Jewish groups congratulated Egyptians on ousting President Hosni Mubarak and expressed hope for continued peace with Israel.
"The demonstrations by the people of Egypt against the regime’s authoritarianism and repression, and their demands for greater freedom, political accountability and transparency, have been inspiring to all who cherish democracy and liberty," the Anti-Defamation League said in a Feb. 11 Friday after Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had relinquished his powers to the army. "The people of Egypt must now channel their passion for change into the more difficult task of building the foundations for a true open, inclusive and stable democracy."
The statement noted uncertainty about "the new role of the military and how they will govern," as well as "serious questions about what role the Muslim Brotherhood will play in the transition and beyond, and how this will impact Egypt’s policies and its relations with the West and the State of Israel."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it "congratulates and commends the Egyptian people’s courageous and non-violent transformation of their country."
It continued: "We hope that future developments will help institutionalize individual and political freedoms, and that the new Egyptian government will continue to maintain the legacy of peaceful coexistence with all its neighbors, including the state of Israel."
The Union for Reform Judaism quoted the Babylonian Talmud (Breachaot 55a): "A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted."
"We hope and pray that the transition in Egypt will be one of calm and peace, and that the next leader of Egypt will be chosen through open and democratic elections," said the statement from URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie. "We further pray that the next government will continue Egypt’s leadership in the area of regional security and work to protect both Egypt’s and the world’s interest in continuing peace with Israel."
J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, also expressed the hope that any new Egyptian government maintains the peace, and pressed Israel and the United States to move forward on talks with the Palestinians.
"The tides of history are with those seeking their freedom, and it is imperative for the United States and Israel to work proactively to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict," it said.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish public policy umbrella, said the "forced resignation of President Hosni Mubarak is a victory for the masses of people who have risked everything for the sake of greater democracy over 18 days of protests."
It said that the "curtain has only just risen" before adding that "A free and democratic Egypt is not a foregone conclusion, and we believe that a continued strategic partnership with the United States and the over three-decade-old peace treaty with Israel will provide a solid foundation as they work to re-establish their economy and open the political arena.
The National Jewish Democratic Council suggested that the United States was the key to midwifing a continued peace.
"We are confident that President Obama and America’s allies will help encourage a newly free Egypt to embrace peaceful coexistence with its neighbors — and stability throughout the Middle East — as key benchmarks moving forward," it said.