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Agudath Israel letter to President Bush
re: U.S. Stance on Terrorism

October 5, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President,

We at Agudath Israel of America, and our constituency of Orthodox Jews all across the United States, salute your firm resolve to combat and eradicate the unmitigated evil of terrorism. We join all our fellow Americans and people of good will the world over in solidarity with the courageous course on which you have embarked. May G-d crown your efforts with great success.

More specifically, we fully support the steps you are taking to galvanize the entire international community to join the battle against radical terrorist groups and the countries that give them safe harbor. It is strategically vital and morally imperative to build a coalition of this nature. In this context, we applaud your effort to reach out to those Muslim nations and groups that recognize terrorism for the evil that it is, and that condemn premeditated acts of murderous violence against innocent civilians as a corruption, not an expression, of Islamic values.

In reaching out to these nations and groups, however, the United States must remain firm in upholding its own values. Our nation has a long and proud history of standing with Israel - of recognizing the moral foundation and historical legitimacy of the Jewish State, of identifying with its love of freedom and practice of democracy, of helping assure its security as it stands alone amidst a sea of unfriendly and even hostile neighbors, of protecting it in international forums like the United Nations against the diplomatic slings and arrows of nations unsympathetic to its needs and sometimes to its very existence.

We implore you, Mr. President, respectfully but urgently, not to deviate from that long and proud history as you seek to build your international coalition against terrorism. On the contrary: The tragic events of September 11, and our nation's firm resolve to respond appropriately to the act of war they represent, should lead us to strengthen our bond with Israel and its people - themselves the targets of deadly terrorism on an almost daily basis, themselves the objects of blind hatred and evil design. Now is the time for America to deliver the unambiguous message to Israel's neighbors that suicide bombings and other acts of terror directed against innocent civilians are no less evil, and no less acts of war, then the acts that were directed against the United States on September 11; and that our posture toward groups that perpetrate such acts and nations that give them succor is no different than our posture toward those who are responsible for the carnage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Israel has shown that it is prepared to make major territorial and political concessions in the quest for genuine peace. But it cannot be expected to negotiate under a cloud of ongoing terrorism directed against its people by groups that are within the domain, and to some extent under the control, of the very entity with which it is engaged in negotiation. As you have stated, so forcefully, so eloquently and so correctly, some things are simply not negotiable - and there can be no negotiations with terrorists and the polities that give them safe harbor.

Stand firm on principle, Mr. President, and may G-d give you the inner strength to pursue this great cause to a successful conclusion. Our prayers are with you.


David Zwiebel
Executive Vice President for Government of Public Affairs

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