Update: A spokeswoman for the URJ says no part of the statement was meant to be italicized, so we have deleted that reference from the article and removed the italics from the statement.
The organizations that make up Judaism’s Reform movement made a point of citing the need for an independent Palestine in a statement marking the modern state of Israel’s 70th birthday.
Whether by plan or chance, the statement arrived in the AJT’s email during Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) in the United States and while Israel was holding its official Israel@70 celebration Wednesday, April 18.
At this critical milestone in Israel and Jewish history, we recommit to working for a secure and just Israel that exists side-by-side with a future state of Palestine.
The italics emphasizing the need to work for the creation of Palestine are part of the statement as it was sent.
The organizations covered by the statement are the American Conference of Cantors, the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, ARZA Canada, ARZENU, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Men of Reform Judaism, the National Association for Temple Administration, NFTY, Program and Engagement Professionals of Reform Judaism, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Union for Reform Judaism, Women of Reform Judaism and the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Collectively, they represent the “largest movement in Jewish life.”
The full statement follows.
We join with our Israeli brothers and sisters, the worldwide family of the Jewish people, and friends of Israel everywhere, to mark with joy the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.
We take this moment to renew and reaffirm our Movement-wide commitment to ahavat Yisrael (love for the land and people of Israel), through our words, by personally studying and traveling in Israel, and by providing financial and political support to the State of Israel and our partners there. We work every day to defend Israel when she comes under attack, and we play a key role in advancing the crucial relationships between Israel and the countries in which we serve.
We know this to be true: The State of Israel represents the greatest achievement of modern Jewish history, reuniting millions with the land that gave birth to the faith and people of Israel. Following nearly 1900 years of exile — centuries of persecution and expulsion, that culminated in eras of both catastrophe and creative growth and innovation — the Jewish people are again sovereign on Jewish soil.
As the Declaration of Independence states, the establishment of the State of Israel “is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.” The Zionist dream has been fulfilled with the ingathering of Jews who sought refuge and fulfillment in a land holy to our people, and is continually renewed by ongoing technological, medical, and economic miracles. We are continually inspired by Israeli creativity and contributions to Jewish life and culture. We will not yield in our pledge to strengthen our ties to the Jewish state and to be strengthened by her.
Across her first seven decades, Israel frequently has been forced to defend herself against stronger and more numerous enemies that have sought her destruction. Israel has sacrificed for peace while maintaining the only democracy in the Middle East. At this critical milestone in Israel and Jewish history, we recommit to working for a secure and just Israel that exists side-by-side with a future state of Palestine. Additionally, we must work for the future, securing an Israel that fulfills the aspiration of its Declaration of Independence as Israel’s founders imagined when they wrote that the Jewish State will “uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed, or sex. As tireless advocates for religious pluralism, we recognize that religious equality has been far too elusive for Israel’s growing Reform and Conservative Jewish movements and we remain committed to an Israeli society that recognizes the rights of all Jewish movements — and all Jews.
In the presence of both triumph and challenge, hope remains our compass. Today, we join with Jews throughout the world, celebrating joyously this milestone anniversary of Israel’s independence. We pray for the fulfillment of Israel’s promise as a thriving democracy, an exemplar of security and peace, a beacon of light and hope for all the world.