Six Jewish groups joined the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in pulling out of a national Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue, scheduled to take place October 22, due to a recent letter sent by 15 Protestant leaders to members of Congress accusing Israel of committing human rights violations and calling for a re-evaluation of U.S. foreign aid to Israel.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC), B’nai B’rith International (BBI), Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), Rabbinical Assembly (RA), Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) all joined the ADL, which had been the first Jewish group to withdraw from the dialogue.
"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 from the Christian leaders to members of Congress, which served to demonize Israel and undermine the Jewish state’s right to self defense, stated, “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,”
“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,” the letter read.
Instead the Jewish groups are asking to schedule a meeting to discuss the letter and “reset the framework for ongoing dialogue.”
“While we remain committed to continuing our dialogue and our collaboration on the many issues of common concern, the letter represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business-as-usual approach,” stated a letter sent by the seven Jewish groups to their Christian counterparts.
“There is no question in our minds that this is an unbalanced demonization of Israel completely lacking in context,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, the interfaith director at the AJC.
“It pretends that Palestinian human rights violations do not exist, but above all, our concern is that when the world currently is focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, Christian leaders have chosen to mount another political attack on Israel,” Marans said.
“The current conversation with some Christian leaders is unacceptable and needs to change,” he added.
said in a statement Wednesday that the Oct. 5 Protestant letter to Congress went “a step too far.”
“The participation of these leaders in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign cannot be viewed apart from the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these [Protestant] denominations,” Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the JCPA.