"Congressional Record" Publishes 120 Rabbis: Shalom or War with Iran?

 The Rabbinic Statement on Moving Step by Step toward Shalom with Iran (initiated by The Shalom Center) has been placed in the Congressional Record by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.
 
She wrote me,
 

Dear Rabbi Wasko [sic], I remember very well the meeting in your home.  It was and is so appreciated.  The statement has been placed in the Congressional Record. I’ll make sure you see it.  I would recommend that the signers also make calls to their Senators and Reps.  The legislation and possible House resolution are very dangerous.  Thank you for your statement and efforts in support of peaceful diplomacy.  Sincerely, Jan

Jan Schakowsky


And she also in the Congressional Record mentioned that her own Rabbi, Andrea London in Evanston, Illinois, is a signer of the Rabbinic Statement.

What does it mean to act on Congresswoman Schakowsky’s recommendation that we weigh in with our own Senators and Representatives?
 
The dangerous legislation to which she is referring is a bill authored by Sen. Menendez of New Jersey to impose even more draconian sanctions on Iran, despite the working success of the negotiations so far.
 
President Obama and other US officials vehemently oppose the bill. They believe it would torpedo the talks because ultranationalist elements in Iran  would use the bill to claim the US was aiming to destroy Iran, not to prevent its getting nuclear weapons.

If the bill passes, talks fail, and sanctions worsen, the path to war becomes more likely.
 
For details on the dangers in the bill, see <http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20140112_Senators_are_wrong_on_tougher_Iran_sanctions.html> and
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/iran-sanctions-bill_n_4472439.html>

Pressure to support this dangerous bill has been coming from AIPAC, and many members of Congress think this means that much of the Jewish community support it. So it is very important that so many rabbis have spoken out for negotiations.
 
If you wish to follow up on the Congresswoman’s recommendation, call 202.225-3121, ask for your Senators and for Senator Harry Reid (majority leader) and then for their foreign-policy staffer. You could mention the Rabbinic Statement, and explain you are vigorously opposed to the Menendez bill and strongly support the present negotiations as a peaceful and effective way to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.
 
You can see the Rabbinic Statement, the full list of 120 signers, and Congresswoman Schakowsky’s prefatory remarks at
< http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2014-01-10/pdf/CREC-2014-01-10-pt1-PgE43-2.pdf#page=1>

This passage in the Congressional Record begins as follows:
 

RABBINIC STATEMENT: ‘‘STEP BY STEP
TOWARD SHALOM WITH IRAN’’
HON. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY OF ILLINOIS
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Friday, January 10, 2014
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight a Rabbinic Statement, ‘‘Step by Step toward Shalom with Iran.’’
Signed by 120 Rabbis, including my own Rabbi, Andrea London of Beth Emet Synagogue in Evanston, IL, the statement opposes any actions that would undermine ongoing negotiations, emphasizes the importance of
peaceful conflict resolution, and welcomes the possibility of negotiations with Iran.
As we continue to work to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, I believe that the Rabbinic Statement offers an important
perspective.


For background, let me say there were three avenues we used to approach her:

One was a letter directly from me, reintroducing myself as the host for a meeting in my living room in 2008 when she was working to support Barack Obama for president in the midst of the Pennsylvania primary. The meeting at which she spoke was with rabbis and other leaders of the Philadelphia Jewish community.

The second was through Win Without War, of which The Shalom Center has been a coalition member since its founding back in 2002 as the Iraq War loomed and Rev. Bob Edgar, then head of the National Council of Churches, brought it together.  (May the memory of the tzaddik be for a blessing, and may he keep struggling for peace and justice in Heaven as he did so wonderfully, courageously, and good-humoredly on Earth.)

The third was through Congresswoman Schakowsky’s own rabbi, Andrea London of Evanston IL, whom I know well and who is a signer of the Rabbinic Statement.  I called to ask her to ask the Congresswoman. She did, and I think this was the clincher.

You can also find at <https://theshalomcenter.org/node/2127/> an Op/Ed piece I wrote  (which included the Rabbinic Statement) that appeared on Friday in The Hill (a closely read and highly respected newspaper for public officials, lobbyists, & and activists in Washington).
 
As I wrote in the Op/Ed (my own individual view, for which I alone am responsible), the Rabbinic Statement bears special importance because it is so different in tone from the efforts by some organizations in the American Jewish community and by the Government of Israel to undermine the negotiations with Iran.

Luminaries of the Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and Humanist streams of Judaism have signed. Among them are Rabbis Leonard Beerman, Aryeh Cohen, Amy Eilberg, Sue Levi Elwell, Everett Gendler, Dan Goldblatt, Marc Gopin, David Gordis, Sharon Kleinbaum, Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Mordechai Liebling, Michael Lerner, Ellen Lippmann, Andrea London, Gerry Serotta, David Shneyer, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Jonathan Slater, Susan Talve, Arthur Waskow, and Sheila Weinberg, Cantor Steven Puzarne, and Rabbi/Kohenet Jill Hammer.

Please circulate this report to our colleagues of all streams of Judaism and to others who “bakesh shalom v’radfeyhu     — seek shalom & pursue it.”

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