Issued by Rabbis in Support of American Compassion and Hope on March 27, 2003
Lo Tis-na et a-chi-cha bil-va-ve-cha. Ho-chay-ach to-che-ach
et a-mee-te-cha, v'lo tee-sa a-lav chet. You shall not hate your fellow human
being in your heart. Rebuke your fellow human being but incur no guilt because
— Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:17
Rebuke leads to love, as it states: Rebuke a wise person
and he will love you. This is the opinion of Rabbi Yossi the son of Chanina
who said: "All love that does not include some criticism is not true love."
— Proverbs 9:8 and Genesis Rabbah
It is our obligation to be critical when we see that society or individuals
are making terrible mistakes. Criticism is an expression of our care for others.
It is our sacred obligation.
Because we care deeply about the United States of America;
Because we believe that those who dedicate their lives to the military are
part of the precious resources of our country, whose lives are ours to protect
to the fullest extent possible-especially since they have voluntarily committed
themselves to protect our lives and our country;
Because we care deeply about the fate of all humanity, even those who have
been deemed "our enemies" (having been guided by the rabbinic injunction, hakem
takim imo "you shall surely lift him up"(Baba Metzia 32a)-which was understood
by the sages of our Tradition to indicate our sacred obligation to aid anyone
in distress, even our enemy);
Because we care about the invaluable relationships that have been established
by this country with other nations throughout the world over more than fifty
years, painstakingly building a model of international cooperation and mutual
Because we envision a world in which someday "nation will not lift up sword
against nation, nor learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4);
Because we want to be a model for future generations, teaching that the way
to resolve conflicts is not through aggressive or violent means, but rather--to
the fullest extent possible--through peaceful and diplomatic means and negotiations;
Because we believe that all human life is sacred, created b'tzelem Elohim,
in the image of God, and therefore should be preserved at all costs until that
moment when one's own safety and survival are clearly jeopardized--
Therefore, out of our love and commitment to the men and women fighting this
war for our country, and out of our love and commitment to the high ideals on
which this country was established, we take upon ourselves the sacred obligation
to rebuke our government--its leaders and advisors--for the following:
- For its failure to "seek peace and pursue it" through diplomatic processes
and for its arrogant dismissal of many other nations' efforts to secure more
time to pursue peace.
- For needlessly endangering the lives of our brave military personnel before
expending every effort to avoid war, thereby destroying many of their lives
and affecting those whose loved ones are killed or maimed or scarred by the
terrors of war.
- For abusing the tragic fate of the Iraqi people, suffering under a ruthless
dictator, to initiate a radical shift in American strategic doctrine to a
policy that allows unilateral aggressive military action with complete disregard
for our allies and world opinion.
- For claiming to stand against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
while provoking that very proliferation in North Korea and elsewhere throughout
- For exploiting the fear that was generated in this country as a result of
the September 11th attacks and using that fear to confuse and bully the public
into supporting an unprecedented and dangerous policy of unprovoked, pre-emptive
- For lacking vision and a plan for the unprecedented and mammoth task of
taking over an entire country and rebuilding it without the maximum international
legitimacy and the allies required for this task.
- For precipitating a major humanitarian crisis without insuring the resources
to protect water, food, and ecosystems, while simultaneously preparing a massive
shift of American resources from the needs of the American and global publics
to the most privileged sectors of American society.
- For taking billions of dollars from hardworking taxpayers that are desperately
needed for social services for the most vulnerable, and diverting those funds
to finance mortars and weapons which are being used to destroy and raze ancient
cities--only to have to rebuild them again with taxpayer money that will flow
to private corporate interests.
- For compromising the civil liberties that are the very fabric of American
life, the provision of freedom of speech, movement, and belief for all individuals
regardless of their race, ethnic background or religion--fighting for "freedom"
abroad while steadily eroding it at home.
- For destroying the trust that once existed between people of varying backgrounds
by encouraging neighbor to spy on neighbor and denigrating the views of those
who dare to express dissent by declaring their expression unpatriotic and
- For arrogantly dismissing the opposition voiced by millions of people worldwide,
as well as losing the respect of the world community by not responding with
decency to leaders like Pope John Paul II, Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, and
past president Jimmy Carter.
- For the attack on and wounding of precious institutions and systems that
have been built over many decades to ensure international peace and cooperation
(UN Security Council), systems of justice (World Court), survival of the planet
(Kyoto Agreement), and weapons proliferation (land mine and disarmament treaties).
- For further jeopardizing the safety and security of Americans throughout
the world and demonstrating the worst of American character in what appears
to most of the world as an arrogant American religious crusade of domination,
thereby squandering the admiration and love which many peoples feel for the
good heart of the American people, the strength of our systems of justice,
and the beauty of our pluralism.
This critique flows from our hearts with love for our country, and for those who
serve our nation. May they come home soon and safely. May our leaders hear our
rebuke, acknowledge its truth, and change their ways. And may the world soon know