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27 Feb, 2012

Rabbi Seeks Funds for Ad Campaign Opposing “Crazy” Plan to Attack Iran

A Jewish rabbi who heads an anti-war group based in Berkeley, California, has launched an appeal for US$100,000 to fund an ad campaign in mainstream U.S. papers opposing what he refers to as the “crazy plan” to attack Iran.

Calling especially for backing by “the peace-oriented majority of Americans who don’t support another war,” Rabbi Michael Lerner, head of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, notes that time is running out with next week’s upcoming annual convention of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee where the “hawks” from the U.S. political, religious and financial sectors will be convening for more war-mongering and rabble-rousing.


Please send this appeal to sign the ad opposing war or military strikes against Iran to everyone on your email lists or any Facebook, Twitter, or other social media to which you have access or Google list groups to which you belong, and appeal in your own name for their support for this cause (but feel free to post and use any or all of my letter here and the text of the ad as well).

Rabbi Michael Lerner is Editor, Tikkun Magazine; Chair, the interfaith (including atheists and secular humanists) Network of Spiritual Progressives, and Rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley California   www.BeytTikkun.org

His new book Embracing Israel/Palestine discusses the relationship between the long-standing Middle East dispute and a possible war in Iran.

Says the Rabbi in an email appeal to his website readers on 26 Feb, “Believe it or not, this is going to be a much worse war, and though Obama may think he is avoiding it, unless he uses his power to let Israel know that the US will stand publicly against the attack and refuse to get involved in a war with Iran, an attack on Iran has the potential of letting loose a war that will be far more likely to escalate wildly beyond US intentions once it is started.”

The Rabbi’s call joins a large chorus of global voices who oppose any further conflict and flies in the face of the deafening silence from the travel & tourism industry, the self-proclaimed “industry of peace” and its head-in-the-sand leaders. This editor is proud to be at the forefront of the anti-war movement and hopes the day never comes when I have to say I warned you.

In the appeal to his email list, Rabbi Lerner says, “Would you please help us put an ad in the NY Times, Washington Post and maybe also Ha’aretz and Yediot in Israel, and other media, depending on how much money we can raise) to put public pressure on President Obama to NOT agree to overtly or covertly o.k. an Israeli preemptive strike on sites where Iran is developing its nuclear capacities?

“As of now, Iran does not have those capacities, and though Israeli leaders are arguing that they must strike now before it becomes impossible to block the development of nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence sources said on Friday, Feb. 24th, that Iran had not made any decision to go forward with developing nuclear weapons.”

The ad’s draft content has been posted at http://www.tikkun.org/iran. The Rabbi says it will look and feel better when laid out beautifully on a full page in the NY Times and Washington Post, along with the names of some who have signed and donated to it.

“These ads are expensive, but they’ve been effective for the political Right and we need to help make more visible the peace-oriented majority of Americans who don’t support another war. We need to move quickly because high-level decisions on this are being made soon.”

Says the Rabbi, “A “preemptive strike” on Iran could easily lead to a new war in which the U.S. felt it had to defend Israel from Iranian retaliations, or in which Iran attacked U.S. interests in retaliation (knowing that Israel would not go through with an attack unless it had gotten at least covert assurances from the Obama Administration that it would provide protection for Israel, even if publicly it denied ever giving such assurances).”

Rabbi Lerner notes this will be a week of intense political manoeuvring and political pressure. “The pressure from AIPAC (at whose convention next week Obama, Netanyahu, and Gingrich have all agreed to speak, and don’t be surprised if they also invite Santorum), from Christian Zionists, and from the Republican party to give Israel blanket assurances for full backing could easily push Obama and the vast majority of Democrats in Congress toward protecting themselves against being called “weak and indecisive on national defense,” and the way they might do that is to rally around an attack on Iran.

“Just as Congressional Democrats were unwilling to stand up against the Patriot Act, against the Bush-sponsored war in Iraq or the Obama escalation of the war in Afghanistan, so they may again capitulate to the call to “be tough.”

The Rabbi said that readers may “detest the oppressive and dictatorial regime” but that only the people of Iran are responsible for changing that. At the moment, he added, “we don’t believe this terrible regime can be overthrown by Israel or the U.S., and we do believe that a first strike or so-called “preemptive strike” is a violation of international law, a war crime, and is both immoral and self-destructive (because it will push Iranians of all stripes into having to support the reactionary mullahs who will be hailed as the embodiment of the nationalist efforts to survive foreign assaults).”

“So let’s stop this before it starts. And it could start very soon,” Rabbi Lerner warns. “The hawks will be dominating the media in the next few weeks as Netanyahu arrives in the U.S., AIPAC has its national convention, and Republican candidates for the presidency will be attacking Democrats and Obama for being “too soft” or even charging them with being “pro the Iranian government”!!!!”

He said the ads will also help “offset the appearance of the American people passively going along with the Right and the spineless as they lead us into yet another war.” Rabbi Lerner agrees that not all readers will agree with all the points made in the appeal. That’s why it has been written in a way to accommodate differences of opinion. “There may be parts of it you disagree with, which is why each part says “some of us” so that you are not committed to agreeing with every part of it, but only to saying “No War and No Attack on Iran.”

Rabbi Lerner said the campaign will cost at least $100,000. “We can only do it if you believe it’s worth it to you to donate more than you can afford to help us put pressure to not go along with this crazy plan. Imagine how much we would have saved as a society (many trillions of dollars that could have been used to help alleviate poverty, suffering, and fund medical research and housing and environmental advances) had we not gone to war with Iraq.

“Believe it or not, this is going to be a much worse war, and though Obama may think he is avoiding it, unless he uses his power to let Israel know that the US will stand publicly agaiinst the attack and refuse to get involved in a war with Iran, an attack on Iran has the potential of letting loose a war that will be far more likely to escalate wildly beyond US intentions once it is started.

“So what we need from you is $1,000 or $500 or $300, and unless you tell us otherwise, we’ll list your name on the ad (space allowing) as one of several hundred signatories if you can give that  much. And we’ll be happy to get whatever you can give, even if it’s only $25, though we may not have space in the ad to list all the donors who give less than $300 (though we will list your name on line unless you ask us not to do so).

“We have to act quickly if we are going to be able to have the money to publish this ad before final decisions are made to strike Iran,” the Rabbi said, with this concluding message: “I know you share with me a desire for a world of peace. Later we may need to be involved in demonstrations or even non-violent civil disobedience, but right now all you need to do is to sign and donate to the ad (and if you don’t want to have your name published, there’s an option you can click when signing so that your name will not be made public).

“We have to stand together for our belief in a world of peace, and the only path to peace is a path of peace. Our means must be consistent with our ends. Stand with me on this one, please!”

U.S. Public Favours “Tough Line” on Iran’s Nuclear Program

February 15, 2012 (Pew Research Center) – Nearly six-in-ten (58%) of Americans say it is important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action. Just 30% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran.

When it comes to the possibility that Israel may soon attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, as has been reported in news stories, 51% say the U.S. should remain neutral. But for those saying the U.S. should take a position, 39% believe it should support an Israeli attack compared to 5% who say it should oppose such action.

Read the full report for a partisan and demographic breakdown of U.S. public opinion on dealing with Iran. The survey also includes findings on overall public opinion about President Obama’s plans for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as well as an analysis of partisan divisions over his plan.