Open Letter To Donald Trump From Rabbi Rick Jacobs

URJ President Urges Campaign To Clarify Policy About "Two-State Solution" In Middle East

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

New York, NY; July 6, 2016 -- Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), sent the following letter to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump today in response to statements attributed to one of his advisers on Israel about foreign policy regarding a two-state solution:

Mr. Donald Trump
Mr. David Friedman
725 5th Ave.
New York, N.Y. 10022

Dear Mr. Trump and Mr. Friedman:

I write, on behalf of the largest denomination in American Jewish life, to ask for some explanation or clarification of remarks attributed to Mr. Friedman by CNN.

According to the CNN website, in commenting on the future for Israel and the Palestinians, Mr. Friedman said, “The two-state solution might be one answer, but I don't think it's the only answer anymore."

The same CNN article reports, “Friedman told CNN this week that he was responding to a hypothetical situation and saying there may be circumstances where that is true, rather than putting it forward as a policy position.”

These reports raise a number of significant concerns and more than a few questions, such as:

  • Under what circumstances can you imagine another “answer” would be preferable?
  • What would another “answer” look like? How would it be developed? Implemented?
  • How would any other “answer” provide peace and security for Israel?
  • How would any other “answer” provide peace and security for the Palestinians?
  • Do you believe Israel can have peace and security without the Palestinians having the same?

I ask these questions because it seems axiomatic that the alternative to two states is one state. Such a state would either be a Jewish state that would cease to be a democracy and disenfranchise millions of Palestinian souls, or it would be a democracy and cease to be Jewish. It would put the fate of the Jewish State of Israel in the hands of extremists on all sides, exposing the region to an endless cycle of violence. Are either of these alternatives acceptable to you? They are not acceptable to us, and that is why the Reform Movement has a longstanding position in support of a two-state solution.

I write with a sense of deep concern. As I hope and trust you know, a two-state solution has been a bedrock of American foreign policy for decades, supported by every American President – Democratic and Republican alike – since at least President George W. Bush in 2002. It is also the policy of the Israeli government, and has been the policy of every Israeli government since Prime Minister Rabin signed the Oslo Accords at the White House in 1993.

Only two states for two people can end the conflict and offer hope and security to a part of the world that needs and deserves them, a region that is of vital interest to the United States in all of our nation’s foreign policy concerns.

No one familiar with the current reality can doubt that there remain significant obstacles to achieving a two-state solution, but that doesn’t mean it is no longer the preferred solution. Any comments suggesting otherwise undermine responsible Middle East policy.

For all these reasons and more, I was taken aback to read Mr. Friedman’s suggestion that another “answer” might make more sense, especially because he did not offer any ideas about what such an alternative might be. To talk about discarding such a fundamental tenet of both U.S. and Israeli policy, without offering any alternative, suggests either a lack of understanding or a lack of seriousness. Either way, the statement calls for your urgent clarification.

I look forward to your response.


Rabbi Rick Jacobs
President, Union for Reform Judaism


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