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Echoing Defeat By: Al Kaltman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 09, 2007

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is the largest Jewish movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews.  According to its website (www.urj.org), the primary mission of the Union is to “create and sustain vibrant Jewish congregations wherever Reform Jews live.”  The Union provides leadership to Reform Jews on spiritual, ethical and political issues and, through the resolutions adopted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, does not hesitate to “speak out on issues of the widest scope and significance, always seeking to elucidate current problems according to its interpretation of the voice of prophetic Judaism.”

In January 2007, the Union passed a resolution calling on the United States government to “immediately begin the process of phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.”  The resolution calls for President Bush to “clearly set and announce a timetable for the phased and expeditious withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq.”  It also opposes the president’s plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq, and it calls upon the United States and the international community to:

Encourage Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Malaki to resume reconciliation talks with the full range of Iraq’s political leaders; Actively support a dialogue between Iraq and all its neighbors, especially in regards to helping to stop civil strife and terrorism and helping finance Iraqi job programs and reconstruction.

The rationale for this resolution was three fold.  First, “Iraq has clearly descended into civil war-like strife, as the sheer level of violence and increasing level of sectarian attacks indicate,” and the administration is following a strategy that is failing to halt “the ongoing and escalating loss of life among U.S. and coalition forces and the Iraqi people, and growing instability within Iraqi society.”

Second, “the economic price of the war continues to divert much-needed funds away from domestic U.S. concerns,” and the rising cost of the war “will require future generations to pay the cost as a result of concurrent tax cuts coupled with spending of substantial levels of borrowed funds.”  The financial burden of the war also “diminishes the ability of the U.S. military to respond to other threats and acts as a barrier to U.S. cooperation with the international community on other issues.”

Third, the URJ believes that the “American presence in Iraq may be fueling the current conflict, contributing to the rising death rate” breeding resentment to U.S. involvement in the Middle East and “cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”  Also, “the continued American presence in Iraq may be deterring the Iraqi government from taking responsibility for the political situation through reconciliation talks and through aggressively prosecuting militias and insurgents.”

The URJ believes that to “encourage the Iraqis to play a stronger role in the stabilization of their country,” the United States should announce a clear exit strategy, immediately begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and publish a timetable for the complete withdrawal.  The URJ envisions a rose-colored scenario in which Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal Al-Maliki by convening talks with the broadest possible range of Iraq’s top military, political, and religious leaders is able to stop the violence through national reconciliation.

In this process, he will be aided by the Iranians and the Syrians whose own stability would be threatened by the collapse of Iraq.  “They have an essential role to play in preventing that collapse through financial support; reconstruction; securing Iraq’s borders by preventing incursions of terrorists and destabilizing actors; reinstating diplomatic relations; and encouraging national political reconciliation.”

While the URJ believes there is an urgent need to withdraw our troops from Iraq, it acknowledges the need to continue to provide economic assistance, and quotes from Proverbs (25:21), “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. And if she is thirsty, give her water to drink.”

The URJ resolution is grounded in the naïve belief that our enemies are not implacable fundamentalist Muslims who seek the death of those who will not embrace their faith, but rather reasonable men who have been angered by our presence in Iraq, and who would be open to reason and reconciliation were we to withdraw and provide monetary assistance for their country’s economic recovery.  The men and women who wrote the resolution have apparently not been listening to the sermons being preached in the mosques and the lessons being taught in the madrassas throughout the world.

They seem willing to discount the views of fundamentalists from Osama bin Laden to Moqtada al-Sadr, who share the conviction that “whoever claims that any religion other than Islam is acceptable, such as Judaism, Christianity and so forth, is a non believer” (The Muslim’s Belief by Shaikh Muhammad as-Saleh Al-'Uthaimin and translated by Dr. Maneh Hammad Al-Johani, the Secretary General of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and that Allah has commanded them to slay all unbelievers “wherever ye find them” (Qur’an, Surah 9:5).

The people who wrote the URJ resolution also fail to give credence to the anti-Semitic speeches and writings of Muslim leaders from moderates such as King Abdullah to radicals such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps believing them to be no more than mere political posturing.  Jews should be among the last people on earth who need to be reminded that Adolph Hitler’s speeches and writings were also shrugged off by men like Neville Chamberlain as diatribes intended to bolster domestic political support and therefore not to be taken seriously.

Whether we should have gone to war in Iraq is a moot point, and the fact that the Bush administration failed to secure the country after the war was “won” only makes the job that remains harder and much more costly in terms of American blood and treasure.  But withdrawing now like some beaten dog with our tail between our legs will only serve to validate the fundamentalists’ conviction that all that is required for an Islamist victory in Iraq is for them to continue to kill as many Americans as they can.  Should the day come when we leave Iraq without having first secured the country, we will have taken the first step on the road which the Qur’an (Surah 4:115) tells us all non-believers must travel: “As for him who opposes the messenger, after the guidance has been pointed out to him, and follows other than the believers' way, we will direct him in the direction he has chosen, and commit him to Hell; what a miserable destiny!”

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Al Kaltman served in the U.S. Air Force as a Chinese linguist. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from George Washington University, and is the author of Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lesson from General Ulysses S. Grant and The Genius of Robert E. Lee.

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