There is now a joint letter being circulated nationally among Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinical students to register our collective alarm about the Israeli government's decision to construct housing in the E1 Zone in Jerusalem.
The letter is co-sponsored by the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet (of which I am a national co-chair), Rabbis for Human Rights North America (RHRNA) and Americans for Peace Now (APN).
The letter below was sent to the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet of which 700 rabbis, cantors and rabbinic students are members. The same letter was sent by RHRNA and APN. I will report on this going forward.
In light of the Israeli governments' recent alarming announcement of their intent to construct 3,000 housing units in the E1 zone between East Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, J Street has joined with Rabbis for Human Rights North America and Americans for Peace Now to mobilize rabbis, cantors and rabbinical and cantorial students, to oppose such actions.
As leaders of our community, we hope you will join us in speaking out to Prime Minister Netanyahu against this move, which would effectively make the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict untenable.
As American rabbis, we also fear that construction in E1 damages the critical relationship between Israel and the United States. Construction in E1 would violate repeated commitments to the United States, dating back to 1994, not to build settlements in the area.
The Mishna (Pirke Avot 1:12) tells us, "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving humankind and bringing them closer to the Torah." The commentary on this saying in Avot d'Rabbi Natan tells us that it is not enough merely to love peace, but that one must pursue it as strenuously as Aaron did.
For the sake of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, we urge you to cease plans to construct new settlements in E1, elsewhere in the West Bank, or in East Jerusalem. We pray that you follow Aaron’s example by returning to the negotiating table as quickly as possible. This unprecedented action requires an unprecedented response from the leaders of our community.
Rabbi John Rosove, co-chair J Street Rabbinic Cabinet
Rabbi Amy Small, co-chair J Street Rabbinic Cabinet
Rabbi John Friedman, co-chair J Street Rabbinic Cabinet
Rabbi Lawrence Troster, J Street Rabbinic Director