Deadline for rabbinic letter to Congress extended


(JTA) — The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has extended the deadline for its rabbis to sign a letter to Congress asking lawmakers not to cut aid to Israel.

The letter, signed by rabbinic representatives of all four streams of Judaism, originally was supposed to be sent to lawmakers on April 15, during the congressional budget debate.

The letter reads, "As Rabbis in the American Jewish community, we write today to express our unified support for the State of Israel and to underscore the vital importance of U.S. foreign aid to Israel. It is essential that foreign aid to Israel, America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, continue as part of a strong far-reaching foreign aid package that allows nations to address poverty, global warming, democracy building, human rights and disease prevention." 

In an open letter to their rabbinic colleagues, Reconstructionist Rabbi Brant Rosen and Rabbi Brian Walt, former executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, said they disagreed with the letter, objecting to a passage that reads, "As Jews we are committed to the vision of the Prophets and Jewish sages who considered the pursuit of peace a religious obligation. Foreign Aid to Israel is an essential way that we can fulfill our obligation to ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (Psalms 34:15)."

The unconditional aid, the two rabbis wrote in a letter widely disseminated on websites, pays to enable Israel to continue what they called its "occupation of Palestinian lands" and to terrorize Palestinians.

The U.S. House of Representatives on April 15 passed a budget bill confirming $3 billion in foreign aid, much of it military aid, in addition to $205 million for funding the Iron Dome short-range anti-missile system.

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