Church Israel news photo: Flash 90

An American Christian initiative calling on Congress to examine Israel’s use of U.S. military assistance is another attempt to penalize the Jewish state for defending its citizens even as it continues to seek peace and security with its neighbors, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said Sunday.

In a letter to members of Congress dated October 5, the 15 representatives of American Christian denominations attacked Israel’s defensive measures – the same measures that have reduced terrorism against Israel’s diverse religious population. They questioned the continuation of U.S. aid to Israel and urged Congress to hold hearings on Israel’s uses of military equipment. The letter’s signatories included, among others, senior leaders of Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Methodist Church, whose rank and file rejected in recent months attempts to adopt punitive divestment from corporations that conduct business with Israel.

“Rather than listening to the voices of the people in the pews who repeatedly have rejected one-sided efforts condemning Israel, these leaders, claiming to want peace, seek yet again to hurt Israel’s ability to defend herself,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. 

“When the world currently is focused on the Iranian nuclear threat to the entire Middle East and the world, Christian leaders have chosen to mount another political attack on Israel,” said Marans. “When religious liberty and safety of Christians across the Middle East are threatened by the repercussions of the Arab Spring, these Christian leaders have chosen to initiate a polemic against Israel, a country that protects religious freedom and expression for Christians, Muslims and others.”

The American Jewish Committee challenged the Christian signatories to reflect carefully on their actions, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Israel, and utilize their efforts in a way that would help bring about a lasting peace.

“If these Christian leaders are truly committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace and have access to Palestinian Authority President Abbas, they should urge him to stop ignoring Israel and return to the table to negotiate a permanent peace accord,” said Marans.

The AJC supports the "two-state solution"  though "direct Israeli-Palestinian talks," which most observers see as a dead issue.