Over 300 rabbis urge Israel not to sell arms to Myanmar amid persecution of Rohingya Muslims


(JTA) — More than 300 American rabbis and cantors called on Israel to stop selling weapons to Myanmar amid violence there against the Rohingya people.

Israel has refused to stop selling arms to Myanmar, also known as Burma, despite calls from human rights activists to do so.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people, most of whom are Muslims, have been pouring into Bangladesh in recent months amid increased persecution in neighboring Myanmar. Refugees and human rights groups say they are being ethnically cleansed by the army in the majority-Buddhist country.

The 302 rabbis and cantors invoked the Holocaust and the Hebrew word for repentance in the letter sent Thursday to the Israeli government.

“Our commitment to ‘Never Again’ compels us to take action to protect today’s victims of ethnic cleansing. In this season of teshuvah, when we recommit to being our best selves, we call on the State of Israel to join us in teshuvah for arms sales to Burma, and for both the U.S. and Israel to end all military training activities,” the signatories wrote in the letter organized by T’ruah:The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

Among the signatories are several Reform Jewish leaders, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, as well as Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, president of Uri L’Tzedek, and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s executive director.

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