[JPN] Reform Jewish leader criticizes house demolitions
July 13, 2001

[The following press release was issued today by the Reform Jewish
movement leader Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious
Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.  This is an
encuraging sign by one of the most important mainstream branches of
the Aerican Jewish community.  --LS]
 

contact:  Alexis Rice (202) 387-2800

Reform Movement Leader Criticizes the Destruction of 14 Palestinian
Homes in East Jerusalem Refugee Camp & Praises the Israeli Supreme
Court Decision of "Affirmative Action" for Israeli Arabs
Saperstein: "The destruction of homes is insensitive, disheartening,
and, ultimately, counterproductive.  Peace and security must remain
he paramount goals, and actions such as this bring us no closer to
those goals."
 

Jerusalem, Israel, July 13, 2001 - Earlier today, Rabbi David
Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform
Judaism, criticized the destruction of 14 Palestinian homes in the
East Jerusalem refugee camp of Shuafat:

Rabbi Saperstein, who is currently on a visit to Israel with his
family, noted that "The destruction of homes is insensitive,
disheartening, and, ultimately, counterproductive.  Peace and
security must remain the paramount goals, and actions such as this
bring us no closer to those goals."

Rabbi Saperstein said further that, "These homes belonged not to
criminals but to families who were trying to create better living
conditions for themselves."   According to press reports, the
demolitions were ordered because the families did not receive
building permits prior to their construction.  On that point, Rabbi
Saperstein continued:  "Too many innocent people are trapped by this
situation.  On the one hand, in contrast to Jews who wish to build in
Jerusalem, it is practically impossible for Arabs to get these
permits.  Yet, at the same time, their homes are demolished because
they aren't built with prior approval."  "Violations of the permit
rules in Jewish West Jerusalem are rarely punished by demolition," he
added.

In a related case, Rabbi David Saperstein praised the recent Israeli
Supreme Court decision to ensure fair representation of Israeli Arabs
on government bodies through affirmative action for them.  "This is
an indispensable example of fairness and justice set by the State of
Israel.  We commend the Supreme Court for this important and just
decision.  I hope this will help to pave the path for further
equality for the one in five Israeli citizens who are Israeli Arabs."

Rabbi Saperstein concluded:  "A lesson learned from the violence in
regards to Israeli Arabs was that significant steps need to be taken
to ensure equal citizenship and treatment for the Arab community of
Israel.  This decision by the Supreme Court is such a major step.
Without such cases, Israel can not create the conditions necessary
for peace."