The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has withdrawn from participating in a national Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue, scheduled to take place October 22, in response to “a serious breach of trust” by mainline Protestant Church leaders attending the meeting.
A number of the Protestant leaders participating in the dialogue sent, what the ADL termed, “an outrageous and biased letter” to members of Congress on October 5, accusing Israel of human rights violations and calling for a re-evaluation of U.S. foreign aid to Israel.
By failing to alert Jewish dialogue participants beforehand, the ADL said that mainline Protestant leaders, who signed on to the letter, had shown a "blatant lack of sensitivity" and "seriously damaged the foundation for mutual respect."
The letter was signed by the current head of the National Council of Churches, as well as leaders of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutheran churches, among others, and was issued without notifying any of the churches' longtime Jewish dialogue partners, including ADL.
"In light of the failure of any of the church leaders to reach out to us, we have decided not to attend this interfaith meeting," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The blatant lack of sensitivity by the Protestant dialogue partners we had been planning to meet with has seriously damaged the foundation for mutual respect, which is essential for meaningful interfaith dialogue."
The letter called for an investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which would make Israel ineligible for U.S. military aid.
"As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel," the letter said. "Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel -- offered without conditions or accountability -- will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel's military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
"We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government's compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies."
Foxman responded by saying, "It is outrageous that mere days after the Iranian president repeated his call for Israel's elimination, these American Protestant leaders would launch a biased attack against the Jewish state by calling on Congress to investigate Israel's use of foreign aid.”
“In its clear bias against Israel, it is striking that their letter fails to also call for an investigation of Palestinian use of U.S. foreign aid, thus once again placing the blame entirely on Israel,” he said.
"We hope that other Jewish organizations will understand the level of disrespect the American Jewish community is being shown here and join us in withdrawing from the interfaith gathering," Foxman added.