Statement on Public Discourse

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

The undersigned, presidents and executives of the member organizations of the Conference of Presidents believe that regardless of position or perspective, organizational leaders, government officials, rabbis, communal leaders, concerned individuals, have a stake in assuring the civility of debate and behavior. We must assure the acts or statements of an individual or individuals are not used to characterize or criticize larger segments of the Jewish community.

Public statements have consequences. Those from all sides of the spectrum who engage in verbal violence, demeaning characterizations and other excesses violate basic Jewish tenets as well as standards of decency while endangering the interests of the community. They have been and will be rejected.

Community and unity have been cherished by the Jewish people for millennia. It was our ability to come together despite our differences that made possible our contribution to the great achievements of recent years. From the support of Israel’s decades long search for security and peace with her Arab neighbors to the freedom of emigration of endangered Jewish communities to the building of a viable, vital US-Israel relationship based on shared interests, values and objectives, the American Jewish community has come together to protect and promote communal interests. We value this communality and the institutions that enable us to act collectively to achieve the goals we share.

We also value the diversity of our community and respect differences of view born of genuine concern. We believe that organizations and their leaders have the right to present their positions in responsible ways that uphold the fundamental principles and standards of our community. This indeed characterizes the overwhelming majority of the discourse in our community.

(Signed by Presidents and Executive Directors of 54 Conference of Presidents member organizations, 1995)