JVP Rabbinical Council Says No to an Attack on Iran!

We, the undersigned American Jewish clergy, are deeply concerned about reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu will demand of President Obama, at their meeting at the White House today, that either the United States attack Iran, or else, Israel will.

We do not welcome the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. We call on all the military forces in the region – including Israel’s – to divest themselves of their nuclear armaments and renounce any belligerent nuclear aspirations.

The State of Israel refuses to acknowledge its own nuclear arsenal or to submit to international monitoring. We believe it is hypocritical of Israel to demand of Iran what it refuses to agree to itself.

Most of the people of the State of Israel oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu’s military threats against Iran. They fear the consequences of an attack on Iran. As Jewish leaders, we too believe that the path of wisdom towards achieving peace and stability in the region is through dialog and engagement and not through acts of war. We call on the United States government to safeguard the interests of the people of Israel and Iran.

Nine years after the United States launched a war against Iraq that is widely recognized as having been badly executed and unjustified, Israel would have the U.S. implicate itself in a new war in the region, this time against Iran. We believe that Jews, and other Americans, will not support more reckless adventurism in the Middle East.

In this election year, we call on President Obama not to give in to warmongering. As Jewish leaders we cannot endorse an Israeli act of war against the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Bible teaches us: “bakesh shalom v’rodfehu –  seek peace and pursue it.” We urge President Obama to stand firm and to use his power as Israel’s chief supporter to draw Israel to the path of peace and justice.

Cantor Michael Davis, Evanston, IL
Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, Re’ut, Israel
Rabbi Rebecca Lillian, Malmö, Sweden
Rabbi Rachel Barenblatt, Lanesboro, MA
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Evanston, IL
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Margaret Holub, Albion, CA
Rabbi Shai Gluskin, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer, Claremont, CA
Michael Ramberg, Rabbinical Student, RRC, Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Joseph Berman, Jamaica Plain, MA
Alana Alpert, Rabbinical Student, Hebrew College, Boston, MA
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Stony Point, NY
Rabbi Howard Cohen, Bennington, VT
Rabbi Brian Walt, West Tisbury, MA
Rabbi David Mivasair, Vancouver, BC
Rabbi Eyal Levinson, Israel, OT
Rabbi Alissa Wise, Oakland, CA
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, Madison, WI

If We Bomb Iran, What Will Happen to Iranian Jews?

by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Jewish history overflows with tales of sorrow. Are we to endure yet another loss, but this time perpetrated by our own foolish hands? Those who think that  bombing Iran serves a defensive purpose should reconsider and remember a forgotten people, the 35,000 Jews of Iran. What will happen to them?

In 2009 I had the honor to co-lead two interfaith peace delegations to Iran under the auspices of The Fellowship of Reconciliation, Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence and The Center for Interfaith Dialogue in Teheran. These two delegations are part of a continuing global effort to cultivate positive relationships between people of faith in areas of potential or existing conflict.

During both visits to Iran,  we spent time meeting the Jewish communities in Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz. I had the opportunity to visit synagogues during prayer services, eat at a kosher restaurant, meet Jewish students at Hebrew school, and enjoy open conversations with Jewish cultural, political and communal leaders in public Jewish institutions and private homes.

Jewish people have lived continuously in Iran for nearly three thousand years. They are guardians of a rite of ancient pilgrimage to the tombs of Esther and Mordecai, the prophet Daniel and the beloved Serach Bat Asher whose stories are well known to the Jews of the Middle East. Iranian Jews possess a 1800 year old Torah in Hamadan and a  rich historical memory. They are proud of their religious Persian Jewish identity. The Jewish communities of Iran should be considered a spiritual heritage by people of faith everywhere.

Jews in Israel, the United States, Europe and elsewhere, should speak up now, before it’s too late and demand that war be taken off the table for the sake of this ancient community that does not want Israel to intervene in their country. Are we to end the life of the ancient Jewish community of Iran by causing instability to be unleashed in their midst?

No serious person with experience in the region thinks initiating a war with Iran will bring security to the United States, Israel or the region. There are many other channels of peacemaking to pursue. If you ask the Jews of Iran, or, for that matter the vast majority of citizens of Iran, they will tell you to please allow them the freedom to do the work of social change in their own country.

Outside military intervention will only make matters worse for everyone.  We have lost enough of our ancient diaspora. Let us not endanger the only continuous Middle Eastern Jewish community in the world today. Let us stand up to the propaganda and fear mongering pushing us toward another disaster.