Letter From American Rabbis to the President

Brit Tzedek is organizing a very important rabbinic letter to the President in response to the Palestinian elections, and we need your help to get more rabbis signed on! The letter closes for signatures on Sunday, February 26!

  • Your rabbi can sign the letter at (It also includes the full text of the letter and FAQs.)

  • You can send an email inviting your rabbi and other rabbis you know to sign this letter at

  • This letter supports the President's demand that Hamas recognize Israel and renounce terrorism, but it also encourages him to proceed cautiously so as to leave the door open for renewed negotiations. It urges the President to "constructively engage" with moderate Palestinians like President Abbas and to maintain urgent humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

    Ask your rabbi to join the more than 100 rabbis that have already signed on, including:
    • Rabbi Paul Menitoff (Former Executive Vice President, Central Conference of American Rabbis)

    • Rabbi Elliot Dorff (Rector, Professor, University of Judaism)

    • Rabbi Lewis Barth (Dean, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles)

    • Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf (Rabbi Emeritus, K.A.M. Isaiah Israel, Chicago)

    • Rabbi Brant Rosen (President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association)

    • Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold (Director Emeritus, Harvard Hillel)

    • Rabbi Lynne Landsberg (Former Regional Director, Mid-Atlantic Council of the Union for Reform Judaism)

    • Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon (Rabbi, Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York City)

    • Rabbi Peter S. Knobel (Rabbi, Beth Emet the Free Synagogue, Evanston, IL)
    Read the full list of signers here.

    Please reach out to your rabbi this week with a short phone call or email. Click here for a sample email.

    View press coverage of the letter here.


    Dear Mr. President,

    As leaders of the American Jewish community, we are deeply troubled by the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections. Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and Hamas has repeatedly perpetrated horrific acts of terror and violence that target innocent civilians. Yet in this challenging hour, we urge you to maintain a cautious approach to the new Palestinian government, so as to preserve the future possibility of bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, which is the only path to achieve true peace and security for both peoples.

    As you formulate U.S. policy towards these ends, we urge you to keep the following points in mind:

      1) According to international observers, the Palestinians conducted a free, fair, and democratic election, something that is still too rare in this region.

      2) Nevertheless, for the new Hamas-led Palestinian government to achieve international recognition and standing, it must "recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace," just as you specified in your State of the Union address last month.

      3) Despite Hamas's victory, recent polls indicate that the majority of Palestinians remain committed to a peace agreement with Israel. With this in mind, we urge constructive engagement with the new Palestinian government, in ways that bolster moderates such as President Mahmoud Abbas and sustain the ceasefire that has allowed for relative calm over the past year.

      4) The immediate and short-term needs of the Palestinian people are pressing. We know that the exacerbation of their plight only increases support for extremism, which, in turn, endangers Israel. Continued funding for indirect assistance to the Palestinian people via NGO's, with the appropriate conditions to ensure that it does not reach the hands of terrorists, is essential.

    During this period of deep concern for the future of Israel, we call on you to maintain determination in the face of those who deny Israel's right to exist and, at the same time, to leave open the door for those Palestinians who are committed to working for a negotiated, two-state resolution of this conflict.


      a. Why is this letter important?

      This letter supports the President's demand that Hamas recognize Israel and renounce terrorism, but it also encourages him to proceed cautiously so as to leave the door open for renewed negotiations. By "constructively engaging" the new Palestinian government, the US can play a vital role in bolstering moderate Palestinians such as President Abbas and continuing the ceasefire of the past year.

      The letter also urges President Bush to maintain essential indirect assistance to the Palestinian people, via NGOs, to address their pressing humanitarian needs. Cutting this aid will only further worsen conditions and subsequently increase support for extremism, which, in turn, endangers Israel.

      b. What does signing this letter entail?

      By signing this letter, a rabbi agrees to the use of his or her name in the following contexts: the letter sent to President Bush, copies sent to Congress and other Administration officials, press statements regarding the letter, and on this webpage.

      The inclusion of congregational or organizational affiliation is for identification purposes only.

      c. Who is organizing this letter?

      This letter is being organized by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is a national grassroots organization of American Jews deeply committed to Israel's well-being through the achievement of a negotiated settlement to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more information on Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, please visit

      IMPORTANT: signing this letter DOES NOT presume support for any other Brit Tzedek v'Shalom campaign or position. Brit Tzedek's name WILL NOT appear on the letter sent to President Bush.

      d. When is the deadline to sign the letter?

      The deadline to sign this letter is Sunday, February 26. The letter will close for signatures at 11:59pm that night.

      e. I am a rabbi: How can I ask my colleagues to sign?

      To send a quick email to your rabbinical colleagues with a link to this webpage, please click here.
      Otherwise, simply point them to this link.

      f. I'm a congregant: How can I ask my rabbi to sign?

      To send a quick email to your rabbi with a link to this webpage, please click here. Otherwise, contact your rabbi and ask him or her to visit.

      g. What polls demonstrate that a majority of Palestinians support a peace agreement with Israel (point #3)?

      In a poll of Palestinians released on January 30th by the Near East Consulting Institute, 73% of all surveyed believe that Hamas should "change its position on the elimination of the state of Israel" and 84% support a peace agreement with Israel, a sentiment echoed by 77% of those respondents who voted for Hamas.

      According to Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, "three quarters of all Palestinians, including more than 60 percent of Hamas supporters, are willing to support reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis based on a two-state solution. During the last 10 years, the trend among the Palestinians has been to move away from hard-line attitudes and to embrace moderate ones. Indeed, more than 60 percent of Hamas voters support an immediate return to negotiations with Israel." (The Polls: What the Palestinians Really Voted For by Khalil Shikaki, 6 Feb 2006, Newsweek International.)

      h. How can I get more information?

      For more information, please email

    Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
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