Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Posted Nov 12, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Making Peace with Iran—Now

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Today again we commemorate Armistice Day (the day that ended World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars, and the day that later was transmogrified into Veterans Day).

In honor of that hope, we are asking you to respond to a call initiated by leaders of many American religious communities to prevent war against Iran, and undertake a serious effort to make peace with Iran. We ask you to join in signing & supporting this call. (Please forward this call to others.)

We think it is increasingly important to do this because the Bush Administration continues to intensify its attacks on Iran in exactly the same pattern it used to build the war against Iraq. It is crucial for Americans to make clear our opposition to this new war and our insistence that the real issues between our countries be addressed by direct negotiations.

And in a moment when religious differences are often turned into violence and war, it is especially important to show that religiously, spiritually, and ethically rooted folk   —especially but not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims –- can reach out across the boundaries of our communities to affirm the Unity at our roots.

The statement below does that.  Leaders of our traditions and communities have signed it. We invite you to join with them to sign it and to support its publication to a wide audience, by making a tax-deductible gift for presenting it broadly.



We who address you are leaders, teachers, and practitioners of several communities of faith and ethics in the United States.

We honor and celebrate the democratic roots and institutions of the United States, and our people’s long struggle toward justice, equality, and peace.

And therefore we remember with indignation and sorrow –

•  the action of the Government of the United States in 1953 to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and to install the dictatorial regime of the Shah,

•  and in 2003 the refusal of the present government of the United States even to consider a proposal from Iran’s leadership at that time for direct talks to resolve all disputes – such as Iran’s aid to Hezbollah, the nuclear issue, and US sanctions against Iran.

And today we are appalled by threats from parts of the present US government to make war against Iran.

We honor and celebrate the ancient history of Iran and its contributions to world civilization, and the desire of most Iranians for peace and justice.

And therefore we are appalled by the desecration of truth and human history, the corruption of Iranian honor and decency, and the rejection of international law expressed by some few Iranian leaders in questioning the historical truth of the Nazi Holocaust and the suffering it wreaked upon the Jewish people, and in contempt for the legitimacy of the State of Israel under international law.

We distinguish such bitter attacks and threats from the just and compassionate concern we share with most Iranians for the right of the Palestinian people to live in a viable state of their own, in peace and unafraid, alongside an Israel that is similarly at peace and unafraid.

If, God forbid, the US government were to carry out threats of war against Iran,  that war would: —

  * violate every teaching of the great religious teachers of all our faiths;
  * violate international law and the UN Charter;
  * pile more deaths and maimings of Iranians and Americans upon the lost lives, limbs, minds, and souls already brought on by the Iraq War;
  *  infuriate and alienate those among the Iranian people who now seek peace and reconciliation;
  * risk more violence throughout the Middle East;
  * worsen Americans’ demoralization by the Iraq War and its pre-emption of resources to meet urgent civilian needs;  and
  *  further threaten domestic civil liberties and human rights, in both the US and Iran.

It would also risk plunging the world into an unutterably bloody and destructive war between Islam and the West.

This must not happen.

We call upon all segments of the Government of the United States to end all actions, threats, or plans for war against Iran, including support for attacks by any other government.

We call upon the Supreme Religious Authorities of Iran to end all threats against the existence of Israel and all denials of the historical truth of the suffering imposed on the Jewish people by the Nazi Holocaust;  to renew their explicit prohibition of any effort to seek nuclear weapons for Iran as a violation of Islamic teachings;  and to make clear that for the same reason, Iran will not support violence against civilians by its own or other forces.

We call upon the governments of both nations at once to open direct talks on all the issues of mutual concern.

And we call upon the American government to move forward in the spirit of humility and generosity, rather than arrogance and domination, toward a broad peace settlement in the entire Middle East, including an end to the US occupation of Iraq, peace between Israel and Palestine,  and a major international effort for the protection of human rights and grass-roots economic development in the region.

We call upon the peoples of the world to support this call, for the sake of conscience and survival. 

Initiating signers (affiliation for identification only, except where noted otherwise with a *) :

Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, director, on behalf of * Benetvision
Imam Mahdi Bray, Executive Director, on behalf of *Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector, American Jewish University
Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary, National Council of Churches, 1999-2007
Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor of Tikkun, on behalf of the *Network of Spiritual Progressives
Ingrid Mattson, President, on behalf of *Islamic Society of North America
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim
Jim Rice, Editor, Sojourners magazine
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (Evanston, IL)
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Rabbi Gerald Serotta, chair, Rabbis for Human Rights /North America
Rabbi David Shneyer, President,  Ohalah (Assn of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal)
Rev. William G. Sinkford, President, on behalf of *Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director, on behalf of the *Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, on behalf of *The Shalom Center
Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
Most Rev. Gabino Zavala, Bishop President, Pax Christi USA,; Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Please add your name as a signer to this statement.  In order to help publish it, we need to ask that you contribute a minimum of $70, for your name to appear in the published version. (All names will appear on Website.) PLEASE AIM AT $360 OR MORE, IF YOU CAN. Your contribution is tax-deductible.

You can sign & contribute by clicking to https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=3273 and noting “Iran peace” in the “on behalf” box, or by mailing this coupon:
TO: The Shalom Center, 6711 Lincoln Drive Philadelphia PA 19119

(Make check to ” Shalom Center.”. Note “Iran peace” on check.)  I enclose:

___ $1,000;  ___ $500; ___ $360;  ___ $250;  ___ $100;  ___ $72.

Affiliation (for ID only unless you note otherwise): ______________________________________________________

Email (important!) ________________________________________

Organization endorsing _____________________________________