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Jewish Group Demands an Exit Strategy

November 19, 2005|From Newsday

NEW YORK — The largest grass-roots Jewish organization in the United States voted overwhelmingly Friday to demand the Bush administration develop a "clear exit strategy" from the war in Iraq.

The Union for Reform Judaism, representing more than 1.5 million American Jews out of an estimated 5 million, is the first major Jewish organization to oppose the war. The group has a long history of antiwar activism.

"I think the mood among Reform Jews is one of grave concern and anger," said Rabbi Jerome Davidson of Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, N.Y., who voted for the resolution at the union's biennial meeting in Houston.

"Clearly, what's going on now is not working," Davidson said. "The violence gets worse, and all we hear from the Bush administration is this ambiguous call for a continued war against terror. The main thing we wanted to do was to demand more transparency and some sense of direction."

Although two-thirds of American Jews say they regard the war as a mistake and a majority support bringing troops home, no mainstream Jewish group had joined the antiwar movement until now.

Concerns about the threat posed to Israel by toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a factor in muting Jewish concerns at the war's start.

"Israel always complicates the issue," said Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz of Port Washington, N.Y., who also supported the resolution. "But ... the war has actually exacerbated the problem of violence."

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