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September 12, 2013 - The Central Conference of American Rabbis has issued the following statement concerning Syria. The Union for Reform Judaism board has not made a decision on the use of force, but supports all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis condemns the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons to kill more than 1400 persons, including some 400 children, as a violation of international law and a crime against humanity. As Jews, we are well acquainted with a tyrannical regime's use of lethal gas to commit mass murder and of the failure of democratic governments to intervene.
The CCAR applauds the President's decision to respond to the Syrian authorities' illegal and morally reprehensible conduct and to seek the complete, prompt, and verifiable removal of chemical weapons from Syria by means of diplomacy, if possible, before resorting to the use of military force. We reaffirm the principle that the use of force should be undertaken with utmost reluctance, only when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or prove unavailable.
We call on other governments throughout the world to join the effort to ensure that Syria does not commit another such atrocity. We believe that effective action regarding the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons is essential to deter the use of weapons of mass destruction by others and reinforce the credibility of U.S. policy concerning such weapons.
We support the firm and unequivocal determination of the President and Congress to prevent Iran from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons.
We express our deep concern for the State of Israel and its citizens, who have been threatened with retaliation in the event of American military action, and reaffirm the CCAR's steadfast support for Israel's right to defend its citizens from all who seek to harm them.
We yearn for the arrival of "the days to come" that Isaiah foresaw, when nations "will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war."
We pray that the Jewish New Year, recently begun, will see the dawning of peace for the entire human family.
Rabbi Richard A. Block, President
Rabbi Steven Fox, Chief Executive
CCAR Board of Trustees