Taking Action  
Individual and group actions, both local and global,
help to organize in your area, and courageous
examples from Israel and Palestine
Injustice anywhere
is a threat
to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
  
Action Alerts
Responses to the Letter from
Fifteen Christian Leaders to Congress

When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
ON THIS PAGE:
+ Indicates items posted very recently

NEWS
•  New York Times: Church Appeal on Israel Angers Jewish Groups
•  ABC News (from AP): US Jews Cancel Talks With Protestants Over Israel
•  GBCS (UMC) Faith in Action: Congress urged to investigate Israel
   violations
•  ELCA: Churches Call for Investigation of Military Aid to Israel
+ Haaretz:  Jews, Protestants Spar Over Israel Military Aid
•  Response from Gradye Parsons (one of the 15 Leaders who wrote to
   Congress)
+ Huffington Post Live: diverse leaders hold a very energetic discussion of
   the Christian Leaders' Letter to Congress - 34 min. video
+ Mondoweiss: Christian Denominations Stand Strong
+ JTA-Global Jewish News Service: Carter Backs Church Leaders' Letter

SUPPORT
•  Rabbinical Support for End of Unconditional Military Aid to Israel
•  UMKR Supports Review of Military Aid to Israel
•  Israel/Palestine Mission Network Welcomes Multi-denominational Letter
•  Friends Committee on National Legislation: Unconditional US military aid
   fuels Israeli-Palestinian violence
•  American Muslims for Palestine: AMP supports churches asking Congress
   to reconsider foreign aid to Israel
+ The Carter Center Supports Calls to Investigate Human Rights Violations

OPPOSITION
•  Rabbinical Assembly Dismayed by Protestants' Call
•  AJC Outraged by Christian Call for Congressional Investigation
•  JCPA says Enough is Enough
•  J Street's Rachel Lerner: Getting Our Priorities in Order

COMMENTARY
•  James Zogby: Efforts to Silence an Appeal for Human Rights
  Mark Braverman: Interfaith Bullying - a powerful article regarding the
   religious leaders' letter to Congress and the backlash it has caused

•  MJ Rosenberg: Major Jewish Organizations Go Berserk
•  Jim Wall: New York Times Flacks for Jewish Groups Against 15 Major
   Christian Leaders
•  Rabbi Alissa Wise: Rabbis Support Protestant Leaders' Call to End
   Unconditional Military Aid to Israel 

•  Andrew Sullivan:
A New Wave Of "Vicious Anti-Zionism"
•  Rabbi Brant Rosen: Christians’ letter was reasonable, worded sensitively
+ Rabbi Eric Yoffie: Heading Toward Irreparable Rift between US Jews
   and Christians

+
Rabbi Brian Walt: Christian Leaders Cannot Be Cowed into Silence
+ Rami Khouri: Ethical Activism Amid Politics as Usual
+ Bill Maxwell:  An Ethical Stand on Aid to Israel
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  

 
 
Church Appeal on Israel Angers Jewish Groups

By Laurie Goodstein
October 20, 2012
New York Times

A letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches that calls for Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel because of accusations of human rights violations has outraged Jewish leaders and threatened to derail longstanding efforts to build interfaith relations.

The Christian leaders say their intention was to put the Palestinian plight and the stalled peace negotiations back in the spotlight at a time when all of the attention to Middle East policy seems to be focused on Syria, the Arab Spring and the Iranian nuclear threat.

“We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), “to make sure our military aid is going to a country espousing the values we would as Americans — that it’s not being used to continually violate the human rights of other people.”

The Jewish leaders responded to the action as a momentous betrayal and announced their withdrawal from a regularly scheduled Jewish-Christian dialogue meeting planned for Monday. In a statement, the Jewish leaders called the letter by the Christian groups “a step too far” and an indication of “the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations.”

“Something is deeply broken, badly broken,” said Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella group that helped to convene the meeting. “We’re certainly not getting anywhere now.”

The Jewish groups have called for the Christian churches to send their top officials to a “summit” meeting to discuss the situation, an invitation the Christian leaders say they are considering.

The Christian leaders involved are mostly from the historically mainline Protestant churches. Many of these same churches have taken up contentious resolutions to divest their stock holdings from companies that sell military and security equipment to Israel. Meanwhile, successive Israeli governments have found stalwart support in conservative evangelical American churches.

The breach is all the more bitter because it involves Jewish groups known for cultivating strong interfaith relationships, including the Reform and Conservative movements, the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith International.

The controversy began on Oct. 5, when the Christian groups sent a letter urging Congress to hold hearings into whether Israel was violating the terms for foreign aid recipients. The Christian leaders wrote that they had “witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement.”

The letter said that Israel had continued expanding settlements in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem despite American calls to stop “claiming territory that under international law and United States policy should belong to a future Palestinian state.”

The signers, besides the Presbyterians, included leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Two Catholic leaders also signed, one with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an umbrella group of men’s religious orders.

The Christian leaders’ letter acknowledged that both Israelis and Palestinians had suffered, and that both sides bore responsibility. But it called for an investigation into only Israel’s activities.

The Jewish leaders said such an approach was a double standard. The Palestinian Authority also receives foreign aid from the United States and has also been accused of rights violations, they said.

“Where’s the letter to Congress about Syria, which is massacring its own people?” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, the chief executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. “When Israel is the only one that is called to account, that’s when it becomes problematic.”

Several Christian leaders responded in interviews that the letter was focused only on Israel because it is the largest recipient of American foreign aid, and because the aid flows to Israel without conditions or accountability.

Humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority was suspended last year because of violations, and Congress is re-evaluating aid to Egypt, noted Peter Makari, the executive for the Middle East and Europe in global ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who helped write the letter.

“The need to hold Israel as accountable as other countries in the region is important,” he said.

Antonios S. Kireopoulos, the director of interfaith relations and associate general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said, “It’s a dramatic step, but it’s out of frustration that the situation in Israel/Palestine is not moving along constructively.”

The Jewish leaders were shocked not just by the content of the letter, but also by the fact that the Christian leaders had not given them any warning. Both sides have been participating for eight years in a Christian-Jewish Round Table designed to heal wounds over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was Monday’s meeting that the Jewish leaders canceled.

“What we’re seeing is people in the mainstream Jewish community, doves and hawks, who are really feeling at a point of exhaustion,” said Mr. Felson of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/us/church-appeal-on-israel-angers-jewish-groups.html?_r=1&  

Back to top
_______________________________________________________________________

 
US Jews Cancel Talks With Protestants Over Israel

By RACHEL ZOLL   AP Religion Writer
October 17, 2012
Associated Press


Major American Jewish organizations said Wednesday they have cancelled talks with liberal Protestant leaders after the churches sought an investigation of U.S. military aid to Israel.

The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and Conservative and Reform Jewish movements are among those withdrawing from the national Christian-Jewish Roundtable. The dialogue group was founded in 2004 to ease tensions over escalating church protests against Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories.

The Jewish groups announced their decision in response to a request by several mainline
Protestant leaders for Congress to re-evaluate U.S. military aid to the Jewish state. The church leaders said in an Oct. 5 letter to Congress that Israel was guilty of widespread human rights violations against Palestinians that violated U.S. legal standards for recipients of military aid.

Rabbi Steven Wernick, chief executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism called the claims "repugnant, regrettable and morally misguided." The American Jewish Committee, a cofounder of the dialogue group, has requested a meeting with senior church leaders to "determine a more positive path forward."

The church leaders seeking the congressional hearings represent some of the largest mainline Protestant groups in the United States. They include Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Gradye Parsons, a top executive of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Rosemarie Wenner, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops; and Peg Birk, leader of the National Council of Churches.

In the letter to Congress, the Christian leaders said both Israelis and Palestinians share
responsibility for the conflict in the region, and church leaders acknowledged the suffering of both groups. But the leaders said, "we have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians."

Arguing that U.S. military aid to Israel was "sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians," church leaders said Congress should investigate whether Israel has violated the human rights standards set by the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act.

The Christian-Jewish Roundtable was scheduled to meet next Monday. Tony Kireopoulos, an interfaith leader for the New York-based National Council of Churches, said Wednesday that the organizations were "disappointed that the meeting wasn't going forward" and they hoped to restart the dialogue.

The U.S. Episcopal Church, also a member of the interreligious dialogue, didn't endorse the Protestant statement to Congress. Alexander Baumgarten, the Episcopal public policy director, said the request for congressional hearings was not in line with Episcopal policy.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-jews-cancel-talks-protestants-israel-17502751#.UH9j0L-tJEl

_______________________________________________________________________

When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Congress urged to investigate Israel violations
'Unconditional' U.S. military assistance contributing to deteriorating conditions in Middle East, faith leaders say.

by Wayne Rhodes, Editor
Faith in Action
General Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Church
October 12, 2012

Rosemarie Wenner, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, is among 14 Christian leaders who have written to Congress urging an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.

The faith leaders express “grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace.”

Unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to the faith leaders’ letter.

In addition to Wenner, among the endorsers are Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA; Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Peg Birk, transitional general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Shan Cretin, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee; J. Ron Byler, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; American Baptist Churches General Secretary A. Roy Medley; United Church of Christ General Minister and President Geoffrey Black; and the Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Both bear responsibility

“We recognize that each party — Israeli and Palestinian — bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source,” the letter emphasizes. “Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.”

The letter points to the most recent 2011 State Dept. Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel & the Occupied Territories as substantiation of the faith leaders’ concerns. The report “details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.”

    The letter urges Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance.

The faith leaders emphasize that the two acts cited prohibit assistance to any country that “engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’”

The letter urges Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that U.S. aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. The letter urges Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance.

The faith leaders request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.

“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 faith leaders state. “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.”

Source:  http://umc-gbcs.org/faith-in-action/faith-leaders-urge-congress-to-investigate-israel-violations

_______________________________________________________________________

 
ELCA, Other Churches Call for Investigation of Military Aid to Israel

October 5, 2012
Friends of Sabeel, North America

CHICAGO (ELCA) - Concerned about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and the commitment for a just peace, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and other U.S. Christian leaders are urging Congress to conduct an investigation into possible human rights and weapon violations by the government of Israel.

In an Oct. 5 letter to Congress, the religious leaders cited possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which respectively excludes assistance to any country that engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limits the use of U.S. weapons to "internal security" or "legitimate self-defense."

The leaders also urged Congress "to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel's compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance."

U.S. churches and religious organizations have been deeply involved in the pursuit of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. The religious leaders shared in their letter that they have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions.

"When as Lutherans we say that all the baptized will strive for justice and peace in all the earth, it means that we will be immersed in complex issues. While we do not all agree on the best way to establish justice and bring peace, we will be involved in lively, respectful, passionate conversations," said Hanson.

In their letter, the U.S. Christian leaders were clear in their recognition that Israel faces real security threats and that it has both "a right and a duty to protect both the state and its citizens," but the "measures that it uses to protect itself and its citizens, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law."

The leaders further said it is unfortunate that "unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to (the) deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. This is made clear in the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons."

Examples of human rights violence related to U.S. military support were included as an annex to the letter and, in addition to specific rights violations, the Christian leaders expressed their concern that Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, claiming territory "that under international law and U.S. policy should belong to a future Palestinian state."

"From Palestinian Lutherans, I hear discouragement about the lack of progress and questions about where the voice is of American Christians," said Hanson. "Our letter seeks to be a partial answer to such questions, that we are clear in our resolve to continue to work for a just and lasting solution for Israelis and Palestinians."

The U.S. Christian leaders wrote that 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."

They requested 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. As Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II, it is especially critical for Israel to comply with the specific U.S. laws that regulate the use of U.S.-supplied weapons. We also encourage Congress to support inclusive, comprehensive and robust regional diplomacy to secure a just and lasting peace that will benefit Israelis, Palestinians, and all the peoples of the region and the world."

Through an action, the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly expressed concern over continued U.S. military aid to Israel.
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
http://www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com

Source:  http://www.fosna.org/content/elca-other-churches-call-investigation-military-aid-israel

_______________________________________________________________________
 
When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Jews, Protestants spar over Israel military aid


U.S. Jewish leaders lash out after mainline Protestant churches pen letter to U.S. Congress suggesting end to military aid to Israel.


By Dina Kraft
Oct.21, 2012
Haaretz

BOSTON – An unprecedented letter by mainline Protestant churches asking Congress to reconsider U.S. military aid to Israel contained "rhetoric that was destructive and negative," a leading Conservative rabbi said this week, undersco increasingly fraught relationship between American Jewish leaders and the churches.


“This letter, both in terms of its content that dealt with delegitimization and the manner it was delivered was like a sucker punch in terms of what we assumed and believed we were achieving,” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO and executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.


As a result, several major Jewish organizations have pulled out of next week’s scheduled dialogue group between the two sides. The national Christian-Jewish Roundtable dates to 2004, when it was founded in an effort to defuse tensions over outspoken Protestant criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinians, which included calls for divestment.


It appears that seven years later, relations are again facing a difficult moment.


“This has been a very tense time in the relationship and it’s okay that we have legitimate differences in opinion, but as mature religious groups in America, it would be nice not to find ourselves back at this place,” said Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.


Felson blamed tensions on those members of Protestant groups “promulgating some really vicious anti-Israel educational materials and seriously debating divestment or resolutions branding Israel as an apartheid state.”


But despite the challenges, Felson said there had been a feeling of progress and dialogue since the group was established and a sense that they could address divergent views respectfully.


The October 5 letter sent to Congress and signed by four of the largest of the mainline Protestant church organizations argues that U.S. military aid to Israel is responsible for “sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”


Both Israelis and Palestinians share responsibility for the conflict, the co-signers of the letter said, but the leadership highlighted what they described as Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians and asked Congress to investigate if such acts were in violation of U.S. laws.


Peter Makari, executive director of Middle East and Europe Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church, said the letter reflected clear policies that the church groups had held for a long time.


“The churches who are signatories to the letter support peace in the region, and earnestly hope, pray, and work for a resolution of the conflict that will ensure Israel’s stability and security, as well as the rights of the Palestinians, and that would establish a fair and just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Our churches are equally concerned about the well-being of Israelis and Palestinians, and are concerned about the massive amounts of U.S. military aid for Israel, and how those funds are used to perpetuate occupation,” Makari wrote in an email to Haaretz.


As for the tensions in relations described by some of his Jewish colleagues in the dialogue group, he added: “The Roundtable is a setting where we have discussed the very difficult issues of the Middle East together, where there are passionate perspectives expressed. Different perspectives should not be a reason to suspend meeting; this is a setting where we should be present to discuss such issues, perhaps especially when we may not agree.”


But there were voices within the Protestant community that were unhappy with the letter.


John Wimberly, co-moderator of the centrist Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, said the letter reflected leadership within his denomination which he described as out of touch with the majority of Presbyterians. He cited recent polls and votes which show most of his fellow Presbyterians in support of a strong political and military alliance with Israel.


Responding to his understanding of the Roundtable’s purpose, Wimberly said, “We were going to condemn both sides when they do things that are wrong and support both sides to be self-governing, autonomous nations and this [the letter] went way, way over the line.”


“We’ve got a strong, vocal minority within our denomination constantly putting pressure on our officials to sign things like this and that’s how something like this happens,” said Wimberly.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/jews-protestants-spar-over-israel-military-aid.premium-1.471286

_______________________________________________________________________
 
When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
A message from the Stated Clerk concerning recent General Assembly statements on Israel

October 23, 2012

On October 5, 2012, leaders of 15 Christian churches and organizations – including Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk, the Reverend Gradye Parsons – joined together to sign and send a letter to Congress calling for a reconsideration of unconditional military aid to Israel. The Presbyterian News Service story, containing the complete text of the letter, is found here.
                                                                                                                                          
An official response by Rev. Parsons to those who have communicated with him about the letter is found below. The Stated Clerk’s statement outlines the explicit actions from the past two General Assemblies that directed him to send such a letter to Congress.

I recently joined 14 other denominational leaders in signing a letter to the U.S. Congress requesting an investigation into the matter of whether U.S. aid to Israel was in accord with U.S. law, given our commitment to human rights and the search for peace. I call your attention to the action of the 219th General Assembly (2010), on this issue, which included the following language:

“1.   Express its enduring and heartfelt commitment to security, justice and lasting peace for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

2.   Express its support for the U.S. government policy of carefully vetting the funds distributed to foreign countries in ways that ensure peaceful development and are consistent with international law, human rights protections, and U.S. foreign policy, namely:

a.  the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 which prohibits giving assistance to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations;

b.  the U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1976 which prohibits using U.S. weapons against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and

c.  the U.S. foreign policy insofar as it pertains to recommendations for steps toward peace, in this instance, between Israelis and Palestinians.

3.   Call for the allocation of U.S. military aid funds to be contingent on compliance with the above-mentioned statutes and/or to the peace process.

4.   Express its extreme disappointment with the U.S. government that while the State of Israel has been found not to comply with the above statutes, it continues to be the recipient of U.S. military aid.

 5.   Direct the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to communicate these recommendations to    all members of the U.S. Congress, in particular the chairs of the Foreign Relations Committees for the House and Senate and to all appropriate members of the U.S. administration, including the president, vice-president, secretary of state and secretary of defense.”

That action was reinforced by the 220th General Assembly (2012), in addressing our own government, in which it:

“Calls on the U.S. government to give a thorough accounting to its citizenry as to the amounts of its foreign aid to countries in the Middle East that have been used by the recipient nations to finance human rights violations, breaches of international law and UN Security Council Resolutions; and to redirect adequate allocations of aid toward (1) the rebuilding of Gaza and humanitarian assistance for its people; and, (2) Palestinian reuse or dismantling of the remaining settlement infrastructure following the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

I have signed the letter in the name of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), by whose policies I am bound. Every Presbyterian has the freedom of conscience to disagree with the judgment of the over 600 Ruling and Teaching Elders who comprise the  General Assembly, and some may do so; nonetheless, this letter reflects the position of the highest council of our church and those who labor as staff of the General Assembly are bound by it.

Additionally, I would point out that this action, in its opening lines, expresses our decades of commitment to a common hope for both Israelis and Palestinians. Our 218th General Assembly (2008) reminded us that we should be “balanced” and “even–handed” in dealing with issues of justice and peace in the region. Awareness of that commitment did not prevent the next General Assembly, two years later, from focusing on the specific issue of U.S. aid to Israel as a clear and major concern.

Please explore further information regarding our policy history on this or other matters related to the search for peace in the Middle East.

Sincerely,

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Source:  http://www.pcusa.org/news/2012/10/23/message-stated-clerk-concerning-israel-statement/
_______________________________________________________________________
  
 
Diverse Panel Discusses Pros and Cons
of 15 Christian Leaders' Call for Congressional Investigation

Watch the video just below this description

Huff Post Live: Faith Leaders on Aid to Israel
By Jennine Vari
October 26, 2012

Two weeks ago, a group of Christian leaders sent a letter to Congress calling for an investigation into whether U.S. aid to Israel is contributing to human rights abuses of Palestinians. The letter was signed by the leaders of the various Christian denominations: Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches USA, and the United Church of Christ. In the letter, they state that, “unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.” By challenging the typically hagiographical representation of Israel in U.S. media, these Christian leaders were subject to backlash from American Jewish groups who accused them of being “anti-Zionist” and anti-Semitic. In response to the letter, Jewish leaders decided to boycott next week’s dialogue in favor of holding an “interfaith discussion” about the pain caused by the letter.

AAI President James Zogby’s most recent column, which appears in the Huffington Post, served as the inspiration for a HuffPost Live discussion between himself, writer David Kaufman, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Peter Makari, and Ethan Felson of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs about the motives behind the letter. During the discussion, Jim upheld the view that Christian leadership has taken an important step in addressing the issue of unconditional aid to Israel, and that this will play a part in a constructive discussion and not enable bad behavior. An appropriate relationship, he argued, is a partnership in which neither party “is afraid of acting, or silenced from acting, or intimidated from acting.”

However, Jim was met with resistance from Cooper and Felson during his discussion. Felson insisted that it is not true that aid to Israel is unconditional, but is subjected to the same foreign aid restrictions as other countries. He argued that since the U.S. hasn’t put any restrictions on aid to Israel, this proves that it is not unconditional. However, Jim later pointed out, amid interruptions, that Israel is not subjected to the same scrutiny as other countries like Egypt. They don’t get their money through USAID or American NGOs, but instead receive it up-front and even collect interest on it.

Jim was quick to point out that emerging voices in the Jewish community, such as JStreet and Americans for Peace Now are also calling for this kind of discussion, and that he remains optimistic: “I’m hoping that we can emerge with a sense of maturity about this… I think it would be important for America, Important for the Middle East, and I think what the Christian leadership has done is a great service to this effort.”

Source:  http://www.aaiusa.org/blog/entry/huff-post-live-faith-leaders-on-aid-to-israel/

 


_______________________________________________________________________
 
When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

   
 
Church denominations stand strong in the face of Jewish establishment uproar over letter to Congress
by Alex Kane
November 1, 2012
Mondoweiss

Jewish & Christian advocates for peace and divestment from the Israeli occupation at the Methodist General Conference, April 24, 2012 (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace)

When 15 leaders of Christian denominations sent a letter (pdf) to Congress earlier this month asking for an investigation into whether military aid to Israel complies with U.S. law, the Jewish organizational world reacted with fury.

Jewish establishment groups pulled out of a planned interfaith dialogue scheduled for late October, pressured church leaders to attend a “summit” in lieu of the interfaith dialogue and flung around accusations of anti-Semitism. The vice-president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Ethan Felson, threatened to ask Congress to investigate “delegitimizers” of Israel.

But the pressure hasn’t worked. Interviews with people involved with Palestine solidarity work inside church denominations and other activists reveal that the Christian denominations have no intention of backing down from their stance. No response has yet been forthcoming to the invitation for a high-level official “summit,” and a collective response to the invitation and the charges from the Jewish establishment is being drafted.  The fact that the pressure hasn’t worked could be significant to the prospects of Christian denominations having a strong voice on Israel/Palestine in the years to come as the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.

“The significance of these courageous 15 church leaders calling on Congress to hold Israel accountable for its misuse of U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians cannot be overstated. Until now, this demand was largely constricted to the margins of the political debate, but now it is moving to the mainstream,” wrote Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, in an e-mail. “The taboo now has been broken and the Israel lobby, as evidenced by its hysterical reaction to the letter, is quite evidently concerned that U.S. aid to Israel will now become a debatable topic on Capitol Hill.”

The Christian denominations who signed the letter also received a boost from the Carter Center, who “commended” the letter that “urged Congress to investigate human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians that are obviously in violation of U.S. law.”

The letter that sparked the fracas is relatively mild. Sent to every member of Congress, it called for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.” Church leaders noted that those laws “respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’” The letter goes on to “urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.”

Included among the signers were Rev. Gradye Parsons of the Presbyterian Church; Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Geoffrey Black of the United Church of Christ; and more. The issue of military aid to Israel and its compliance with U.S. law has been a priority for church denominations for over a year at least.

“The letter is just as big as, or even bigger, than divestment, just because of the number of institutions that are involved and the basic argument is just investigate human rights violations, and that’s very simple,” said a source involved in drafting the letter to Congress. “And why not? It’s very hard to argue against that. We basically told the truth, and that’s why there’s a reaction.”

The strong stance in the face of the uproar from mainstream Jewish groups is all the more significant when you look at past interfaith flare-ups. As Presbyterian activists tried to get their church to divest from companies doing business with the Israeli military in 2004, Jewish establishment groups reacted with outrage. One outcome of that outrage was a group of church leaders agreeing to hold an interfaith dialogue with members of the Jewish establishment. Now, groups like the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Anti-Defamation League are boycotting the interfaith dialogue because of the letter to Congress.

But the interfaith dialogue was already on rocky ground. Some Christian members who participated in the dialogue found it to be frustrating. Rather than a forum to discuss common ground as well as the Israel/Palestine issue, it turned into one where Jewish leaders brought up alleged anti-Semitism within churches.

“Interfaith dialogue has always been nothing more than a device used by American Jewish groups to intimidate the American churches into keeping the ecumenical deal,” wrote James Wall, an ordained United Methodist clergy person and an editor at The Christian Century magazine, a left-leaning Protestant publication, in a recent blog post.

Another reason why the church leaders have no intention of backing down is due to the stated policy positions of these denominations on Israel/Palestine. While always acknowledging Israel’s right to exist in security, church denominations have voted on resolutions that make it church policy to call on the U.S. to look into whether military aid helps the situation on the ground or violates the law.

For instance, after the letter was published, a group called Presbyterians for Middle East Peace told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “we know there's a very small, very vocal group in the Presbyterian Church that wants to see Israel punished...We think we represent the 70 percent of Presbyterians polled in 2009 who said that maintaining a strong diplomatic and military relationship with Israel should be a U.S. priority.” But that ignores the fact, as the Presbyterian Church’s Parsons noted in a statement, that in 2010 a resolution with similar intent to the letter to Congress was passed at the Presbyterian general assembly. That 2010 resolution calls for “the allocation of U.S. military aid funds to be contingent on compliance” with laws like the U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1976. That policy was reaffirmed at the 2012 general assembly.

One source involved with the letter told Mondoweiss that in 2004, as the Presbyterians voted to institute a process of divestment from corporations doing business with Israel, there were “some who were isolated and picked off. Presbyterians were made the poster child of what not to do and so all the other denominations were afraid because of the backlash they faced.”

Now, the source said, “everyone is committed to what the letter states.” While it is a different issue this time around--military aid and compliance with U.S. law rather than the more controversial divestment issue--the stance could mean more action from churches on the Israel/Palestine front in the years to come.

Source:  http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/church-denominations-stand-strong-in-the-face-of-jewish-establishment-uproar-over-letter-to-congress.html

_______________________________________________________________________
  
 
Carter backs church leaders’ letter threatening Israel aid
October 31, 2012
JTA - The Global News Service of the Jewish People

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Former President Jimmy Carter commended a letter from Christian leaders to Congress calling for an investigation of Israel's human rights record and criticizing U.S. military aid to the country.

"Like these church leaders, The Carter Center has long been concerned about Israel’s disregard for stated U.S. policy," said a statement issued Wednesday from the human rights group named for and headed by Carter. "This is demonstrated by an unprecedented massive increase in encroachment on occupied Palestinian territory, with illegal settlement expansion during recent years."

“This is precluding the possibility of a two-state solution and endangers a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians," Carter said in the statement.

Jewish groups in mid-October pulled out of an interfaith dialogue after 15 leaders from mainline churches sent the letter to Congress, with no advance notice to their Jewish interlocutors. The letter said that Congress should make U.S. military aid to Israel “contingent upon its government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.”

Source:  http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/31/3110751/carter-backs-church-leaders-letter
 
Following is the press release to which the news article above is refering:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 31, 2012
Contact: Deanna Congileo, dcongil@emory.edu

Carter Center Supports Calls to Investigate Human Rights Violations

ATLANTA…The Carter Center commends the 15 Christian leaders who recently urged Congress to investigate human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians that are obviously in violation of U.S. law.

Like these church leaders, The Carter Center has long been concerned about Israel's disregard for stated U.S. policy. This is demonstrated by an unprecedented massive increase in encroachment on occupied Palestinian territory, with illegal settlement expansion during recent years.

"This is precluding the possibility of a two-state solution and endangers a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center.

Source:  http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/human-rights-violations.html

_______________________________________________________________________
 
When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Rabbinical Support for the End of Unconditional Military Aid to Israel

 The undersigned members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council stand with our American Christian colleagues in their recent call to “make U.S. military aid to Israel contingent upon its government’s “compliance with applicable US laws and policies.”

 We are as troubled as our Christian colleagues by the human rights violations Israel commits against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of US – supplied weapons. It is altogether appropriate – and in fact essential – for Congress to ensure that Israel is not in violation of any US laws or policies that regulate the use of US supplied weapons.

 The US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act specifically prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of US weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”  The Christian leaders’ letter points out, in fact, that the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practicescovering Israel and the Occupied Territories detailed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of US – supplied weapons such as tear gas.

It is certainly not unreasonable to insist that foreign assistance be contingent on compliance with US laws and policies. Mideast analyst MJ Rosenberg has rightly pointed out that during this current economic downturn, Congress has been scrutinizing all domestic assistance programs including Social Security and food stamps to ensure that they are being carried out legally in compliance with stated US policy.  Why should US military aid to Israel be exempt from the same kind of scrutiny?


There is no reason to exempt Israel from the same scrutiny we give to all our programs. In fact, we believe such scrutiny is essential.  While some might feel that requiring assistance to be contingent with compliance would compromise Israel’s security, we believe the exactly the opposite is true. As Israel’s primary ally, the US alone is in a place to create the kind of leverage that might challenge Israel to turn away from policies that impede the cause of a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians – and true security for all who live in the region.


 While some might feel that requiring assistance to be contingent with compliance would compromise Israel s security, we believe the exactly the opposite is true. As Israel s primary ally, the US alone is in a place to create the kind of leverage that might challenge Israel to turn away from policies that impede the cause of a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians and true security for all who live in the region.

 As Jews we acknowledge that the signers of the letter, and the churches they represent, have ancient and continuing ties to the land of Israel just as we do, and that their concerns for the safety and dignity of Christians in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories is as compelling as our concern for the safety and dignity of Jews there.

 We are troubled that several Jewish organizations have cynically attacked this faithful and sensitive call – and we are deeply dismayed that the Anti-Defamation League has gone so far as to pull out of a scheduled Jewish-Christian dialogue in protest.  We believe that actions such as these run directly counter to the spirit and mission of interfaith dialogue. True dialogue occurs not simply on the areas where both parties find agreement, but in precisely those places where there is disagreement and divergence of opinion. We call on all of our Jewish colleagues to remain at the table and engage our Christian colleagues on this painful issue that is of such deep concern to both our communities.

 We express our full support for the spirit and content of this statement and likewise call upon US citizens to urge their representatives to end unconditional military aid to Israel.

 Signed:
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Margaret Holub
Rabbi Alissa Wise
Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton
Rabbi Lynn Gottleib
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Julie Greenberg
Rabbi David Mivasair
Rabbi Joseph Berman
Cantor Michael Davis
Rabbi Shai Gluskin
Jessica Rosenberg, Rabbinical Student
Ari Lev Fornari, Rabbinical Student

Contact: Rabbi Alissa Wise, alissa@jvp.org, 510-465-1777

_______________________________________________________________________
  

 
United Methodist Kairos Response Supports Review of Military Aid to Israel

For immediate release: October 16, 2012 - United Methodist Kairos Response urges Congress to listen to the recent call from Christian leaders for a review of US military aid to Israel.  It reflects decades of similar appeals from our denomination, which strenuously opposes the continued confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government.

In 2001, the United Methodist Council of Bishops called for ending US aid to Israel until “all human rights violations cease, building of roads for the purpose of dividing the Palestinian lands …cease, no more Jewish settlements are built in occupied territories, and all home demolitions cease.”  In 2004, 2008 and 2012, the church's global policy forum, the General Conference, reiterated its call for an end to Israel's occupation and urged the US government to end all military aid to the region. This year's General Conference put actions behind its words by endorsing a boycott of all products made by Israeli companies on occupied Palestinian land.

United Methodist clergy, laity, and mission staff have been visiting and living in Israel and Palestine for many years, and have seen the Israeli military's grave and systematic abuses of Palestinian human rights and international law with their own eyes.  These witnesses, representing all the major constituencies within the church, have repeatedly asked us to stop pretending that this is a conflict between parties with equal power.  It might well be easier to remain neutral, as critics urge, but this is no longer possible.

Since our government is in effect supporting Israel's human rights abuses through unrestricted funding of its military, we have a moral duty to speak out against these injustices that are being perpetrated with our tax dollars. United Methodists have repeatedly condemned racism, anti-Semitism, and all other abuses of basic human rights around the world, from Sudan to South Africa to the cucumber fields of North Carolina.   If American Christians must be faulted for any kind of bias, it should be for not applying our ethical and moral standards uniformly to Israel's 45-year-old occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, and its denial of Palestinian human rights and freedom.

 
About UMKR:  In 2009, thousands of Palestinian Christians signed an urgent plea to the churches of the world to help end the brutal occupation of their land. United Methodist Kairos Response is a global grassroots group formed to answer that call.

Press Contact:  Susanne Hoder - info@kairosresponse.org

_______________________________________________________________________
 
When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Welcomes Multi-denominational Letter to Congress Urging End to Unconditional Military Aid to Isr
ael

For Immediate Release: October 17, 2012 - The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) welcomes and supports the recent letter to Congress from fifteen Christian religious leaders asking for an end to unconditional U.S. military aid to the state of Israel. The letter presses for an immediate investigation into possible violations of the U.S Foreign Assistance act, which prohibits assistance to any country engaging in a consistent pattern of human rights violations, and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense.”

 “Israel’s grave and systematic abuses of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law have been thoroughly documented for many years by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and even by the U.S. State Department,” said Rev. Jeff DeYoe, IPMN Advocacy Chair. “We’re pleased and encouraged that church leaders from a growing number of denominations are recognizing this and taking a stand in favor of justice and freedom for all the peoples of the Holy Land. We hope members of Congress will do the same.”

 The actions urged in the letter to Congress are consistent with the policies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), including a 2010 vote on an overture calling for compliance with U.S. government policy in the use of military aid.

 In addition to the leadership of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the letter includes signatories representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Council of Bishops, the National Council of Churches, the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the American Baptist Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It has also received the support of Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council.


PRESS CONTACT:
Rev. Katherine Cunningham, IPMN Moderator  info@theIPMN.org

_______________________________________________________________________
 
Unconditional US military aid fuels
Israeli-Palestinian violence

By Kate Gould, Friends Committee on National Legislation
October 8, 2012
The Hill: Congress Blog

Amidst another week of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence, fifteen faith leaders representing U.S. churches and faith organizations have called on Congress to condition U.S. military aid to Israel upon Israel's “compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.” These leaders--representing Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Orthodox, Quaker and other major Christian groups--agree that unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to “sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”  

As a Quaker peace lobby that has advocated for Israeli-Palestinian peace for decades in Washington, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is proud to be a partner in this effort.
These organizations draw upon their decades of experience in the region, during which they have collectively witnessed the horror of suicide bombing, rocket attacks, shootings of civilians, home demolitions, forced displacement, and other widespread human rights violations. These faith groups “recognize that each party - Israeli and Palestinian - bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source.”   

Unconditional U.S. military aid has become one of those sources fueling violence and further entrenchment of Israel's military occupation of the Palestinian territories. This statement highlights the United States' responsibility to hold Israel accountable for “a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace.”

Congress must investigate possible violations of U.S. law

The latest State Department human rights report on Israel and the Occupied Territories provides a devastating account of Israel's human rights violations against civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons. This diverse religious coalition has called for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act,” and urges Congress to “ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace”.  

The signers affirm that these are laws that “should be enforced in all instances regardless of location,” but that it is especially critical for Israel to comply with laws that regulate the use of U.S. supplied weapons, since Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II. Notably, the United States has initiated investigations of violations of these laws by other countries, and on four different occasions between 1978 and 1982, the Secretary of State notified Congress that Israel “may” have violated the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act.

The coalition has called for renewed investigations into human rights violations documented by the State Department's report, including Israel's escalation of home demolitions, forced displacement, suppression of dissent, and its use of prohibited weapons in densely populated areas during Israel's military Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.  

Echoing urgent warnings from Israeli leader

The letter also echoes the urgency for immediate action to secure a diplomatic settlement to the crisis that has been acknowledged by scores of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including Ehud Barak, Israel's current Defense Minister and former Prime Minister. In a historic speech delivered at the prestigious Herzliya National Security Conference in Israel in early 2010, Mr. Barak warned of Israel's future in the absence of a political settlement, saying in stark terms:

“The reality is cruel but simple. Between the Jordan River...and the Mediterranean, 12 million people live, 7.5 million Israelis and 4.5 million Palestinians. And the simple truth is that as long as in this territory to the West of the Jordan River, there is one political entity which is called Israel[...]and if this bloc of Palestinians would not be able to vote, it's going to be an apartheid state.”  

Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. interests require urgent efforts to avoid the nightmare that Israeli leader Ehud Barak has described as an apartheid state. A just and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians requires that all parties to a conflict are held accountable and that a comprehensive, inclusive diplomatic settlement be secured. An essential step for Congress to support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts is to heed these warnings, and hold Israel accountable for how it uses U.S. military aid. (See full letter at: http://www.fcnl.org/middle_east)

Gould is legislative associate for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).

Source: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/260813-unconditional-us-military-aid-fuels-israeli-palestinian-violence

_______________________________________________________________________

When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
AMP supports churches asking Congress to reconsider foreign aid to Israel

October 25, 2012

On Oct. 8, clergy from 15 Christian churches appealed to Congress to investigate whether Israel has violated the  U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, because of its continued violations of international law and human rights abuses of Palestinians. Since then, the churches have come under attach by Zionist organizations such as the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The American Muslims for Palestine stands firmly in solidarity with the churches for taking this stand for justice. Below is our letter to the clergy who signed the letter.

To:

Rev. Gradye Parsons, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, The United Methodist Church
Peg Birk, National Council of Churches USA
Shan Cretin, American Friends Service Committee
J Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Alexander Patico, Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dr. A. Roy Medley, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. James A. Moos, United Church of Christ
Kathy McKneely, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Eli S. McCarthy, PhD, Conference of Major Superiors of Men

 Dear Church Leaders:

The American Muslims for Palestine, a national, grassroots organization dedicated to educating Americans about Palestine, would like to offer our wholehearted gratitude for your letter asking Congress to hold Israel accountable for its many human rights abuses of Palestinians and repeated violations of international law. As the largest Palestinian-led organization in the United States, we also would like to offer our support.

As an organization on the forefront of social justice work for Palestine in the US, AMP hopes to grow grassroots support that eventually will pressure Congress to craft a more balanced Middle East foreign policy, which will guarantee equal rights for everyone living in the Holy Land. Your letter is an important step in helping Americans embrace this struggle as one of their own. US unconditional support for Israel is harming the perception of America throughout the world; it also threatens our national security.

We gratefully acknowledge that your letter reflects the positions of your respective churches and organizations regarding human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians, the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied territory, and the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. We agree wholeheartedly with your statement that unconditional US military aid contributes to "the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace."

As is to be expected, you are now enduring verbal assaults from those who support the status quo in the Holy Land. Remain firm, and know that Palestinians in the United States, as well as abroad, are heartened by your actions and stand by you during this time.

 Sincerely,

Dr. Hatem Bazian
Chairman
American Muslims for Palestine

Source:  http://www.ampalestine.org/index.php/newsroom/statements/397-amp-supports-clergy

_______________________________________________________________________
 
AJC Outraged by Christian Call for Congressional Investigation of Israel
NEW YORK , Oct. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An American Christian initiative calling on Congress to examine Israel 's use of U.S. military assistance is another attempt to penalize Israel for defending its citizens even as it continues to seek peace and security with its neighbors, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said today.

In the October 5 letter to members of Congress, the fifteen representatives of American Christian
denominations attacked Israel 's defensive measures – the same measures that have reduced terrorism against Israel 's diverse religious population, 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 which conduct business with Israel.

"Rather than listening to the voices of the people in the pews who repeatedly have rejected onesided
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."

AJC challenged the fifteen Christian leaders who sent the letter to reflect carefully on what they
are doing, to more fully understand Israel and to advance 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. "A two-state solution, the Jewish state of Israel and a future Palestinian state, existing in peace and security, can only be realized though direct Israeli-Palestinian talks."

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ajc-outraged-by-christian-call-for-congressional-investigation-ofisrael-
173038241.html


___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 

When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
“Enough is Enough” - JCPA and Jewish Groups Pull Plug on Longstanding Dialogue After Church Israel Letter

October 17, 2012

Cancelling an interfaith dialogue meeting, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other Jewish groups have called for a summit with the heads of Jewish organizations that have been engaged in the roundtable and the heads of the Christian denominations that penned a letter to Congress calling for an investigation into Israel’s use of the U.S. military aid.

“The letter signed by 15 church leaders is a step too far,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.  “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 denominations. We remain committed to the enterprise of interfaith relations because it is central to the development of a just and righteous society.  But these churches have squandered our trust.  They either refuse to pay attention to our plea for a fair appraisal of the situation or they simply do not care.  Their stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.”

“It is the right of these Christian leaders to say what they want to Congress or anyone else,” added JCPA Chair Larry Gold.  “And it is our right to say ‘enough is enough.’  We will continue to be vigilant against anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian activities wherever and whenever we see them because it is the right thing to do.  If only the leaders of these churches cared a fraction as much about the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activities that have found comfortable homes in their denominations. How tragic that some of our counterparts in the churches are not only silent to this invective, they are responsible for it.”

In a letter to the participants in the now cancelled meeting, the Jewish groups acknowledged disappointment in the roundtable’s ability to address deteriorating relations.  The letter expresses continuing commitment to dialogue and interfaith relations, but also acknowledges that the church letter “precludes a business-as-usual approach.”  The text of the letter is below.

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations. 

Source:  http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/blog/comments.jsp?blog_entry_KEY=6599

_______________________________________________________________________
 
RA Dismayed by Protestants’ Call for Congressional Investigation of Aid to Israel
NEW YORK – In response to a letter released Friday by a group of representatives of mainline Protestant groups, calling for Congressional investigations into all foreign aid to Israel on the basis that Israel has allegedly used it in violation of U.S. conditions, the Rabbinical Assembly issued the following statement:

"The Rabbinical Assembly unequivocally rejects the call of Protestant Christian leaders for
reevaluation of foreign aid to Israel, and recommends that Members of Congress do so as well.

The letter calling for hearings and reassessment was issued without outreach to longtime partners in public advocacy within the Jewish community. It was released on the eve of Shabbat, just before a long weekend of Jewish and American holidays. And it was distributed at a time when Congress is out of session, in the midst of the general election campaign.

We find these tactics to be disrespectful of channels of communication that have been
constructed over decades, and an essential declaration of separation from the endeavor of interfaith consultation on matters of deep concern to the Jewish community. Indeed, we find this breach of trust to be so egregious that we wonder if it may not warrant an examination on the part of the Jewish community at large of these partnerships and relationships that we understood ourselves to be working diligently to preserve and protect.

The substance of the letter demands a point-by-point response. Our community is currently preparing such a document but will be delayed by the holy season that concludes this week. Rabbi Jack Moline, Director of Public Policy of the Rabbinical Assembly stated: “At the moment, it is sufficient to say that Israel remains the only outpost of democracy and guaranteed human rights in the entire region, and America’s only dependable ally in promoting the rights of free expression, freedom of religious conscience and practice, equal rights for people of either gender and all sexual orientations, and a political system that enables an unfettered exchange of ideas and peaceful transition of government based on the will of the people.

We fail to understand how, under the cloak of concern for human rights, the churches involved have elected to communicate such an unbalanced portrayal of the complex situation which Israel encounters daily, including a constant need to defend itself from attacks on its own people. It would seem to belie an antagonism that stands in sharp contrast with the theological professions of their outreach to the Jewish community.”

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, the Rabbinical Assembly’s Director of Israel Advocacy, added, “Israel’s readiness to pursue peace is not matched by the Palestinians, yet the document seeks to assign blame only to the Jewish state for the inability to progress in the quest for peace. Moreover, to selectively invoke the representations of a Jewish organization for their own purposes is reprehensible.”

The Rabbinical Assembly expresses its deep disappointment and dismay with the churches involved, who have seen fit to unilaterally release this document in disregard for our longstanding tradition of collaborative discussion on sensitive and complex matters. We urge our members to express their concern to friends and colleagues who are associated with these denominations in their local communities.

Source: http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/ra-dismayed-protestants-call-congressional-investigation-aid-israel?tp=25

_______________________________________________________________________

 
\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Getting Our Priorities In Order

by Rachel Lerner
October 12, 2012

Late last week, 15 Christian leaders from multiple denominations wrote to Congress urging measures that could potentially cut American military aid to Israel. J Street disagrees with the letter’s proposal that Congress reconsider aid, and takes issue with its lack of nuance. We also believe it raises important issues that deserve our community’s serious attention.
An Israeli woman with a sticker on her forehead that reads in Hebrew 'Peace' closes her eyes as she attends a mass rally marking the anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images)

An Israeli woman with a sticker on her forehead that reads in Hebrew 'Peace' closes her eyes as she attends a mass rally marking the anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images)

J Street opposes proposals to condition or cut security assistance to Israel. American assistance to Israel, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, is important to efforts to achieve peace, providing Israel with the confidence and assurance to move toward a resolution of the conflict based on land for peace. J Street consistently advocates for robust US foreign aid to Israel, and J Street also strongly supports continued aid to the Palestinian Authority, which is essential to Israeli security.

As with so many efforts to address this complex situation, the letter fails to weigh criticism of Israel's behavior with appropriate criticism of, for instance, rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas, and it fails to put the present situation into a historical or political context that might provide a fuller appreciation for the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over many decades.  We also question the timing of the letter – coming as it does a few short weeks before Election Day, when this sensitive issue has already become too much of a political football.

That said, the letter from Christian leaders raises important issues that deserve attention from both the United States government and the American Jewish community. In particular, we share the leaders' concern that conditions in the region are deteriorating to the point where they “threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace, ” though we do not believe that cutting Israel’s military aid will help get us to such a resolution.

All those who hope to see a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – whatever their faith or nationality – should work in the days and months immediately following the U.S. election on forcefully urging both Congress and the next US administration to undertake a serious effort to resolve the conflict now, before it is too late.

To those who despair of bringing two recalcitrant and weary parties to a resolution of their conflict, we say that only a bold effort led by the United States and the international community can achieve a vision of two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security. We need to work together – Christians, Jews, Muslims and others – to press Congress and the next president of the United States to work toward that goal – not through threats to cut aid and punitive measures, but through the kind of diplomacy that only a good friend can leverage.  

To the organized American Jewish community, we say the time has come to put at least as much energy and effort into urging American and Israeli leaders to take the necessary steps to achieve a two-state solution now as our community puts into fighting efforts like this new letter.

The gravest threat to the long-term security and survival of a democratic and Jewish Israel comes not from a letter like this, but from the underlying situation that prompted it in the first place. There will be many more letters like these, and far more significant efforts to exert pressure on Israel, until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reaches a just conclusion and the citizens of both Israel and a new state of Palestine are able to live in mutual respect, peace and security.

Rachel Lerner is the Vice President of the J Street Education Fund.

Source:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/12/getting-our-piorities-in-order.html

_______________________________________________________________________
 
Efforts to Silence an Appeal for Human Rights
by James Zogby
October 20, 2012
The Huffington Post

Two weeks ago, fifteen religious leaders representing major Protestant denominations dared to challenge one of Washington's most powerful taboos. They wrote a letter urging Congress to investigate whether unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel is contributing to violations of Palestinian human rights.

Noting that U.S. law specifically limits the use of U.S. supplied weapons to countries for "internal security" or "legitimate self-defense" and "prohibits assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations," the signatories expressed the concern that U.S. law may be being violated by Israel.

It was an impressive group that came together to sign the letter, including Evangelical, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Mennonite, and Methodist church leaders.

The letter, itself, was also quite impressive. It was temperate in tone and extraordinarily balanced in content. The Christian leaders expressed compassion for the "pain and suffering" of Israelis and Palestinians, "the insecurity and fear" that impacts the lives of many Israelis and their right to legitimate self-defense. But they went on to note how the daily lives of Palestinians are marked by the "killing of civilians, home demolitions [...] forced displacement and restrictions of Palestinian movement." After detailing these abuses, the leaders called on Congress to hold hearings to determine the degree to which U.S. assistance is contributing to these Israeli behaviors. They concluded noting that if Israel were found to be in non-compliance with the U.S. human rights provisions, then the law should be enforced and aid should be cut.

The reaction was both hysterical and predictable. Using excessive and abusive language, some major Jewish groups denounced the letter and the churches represented by the signatories, charging them with "participation... in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign" and "vicious anti-Zionism" and accusing them of "stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state." The Jewish groups coupled this attack with an announcement that they would boycott a regularly scheduled "Jewish-Christian dialogue" session that was to have met next week. They countered with a call for an inter-faith summit to discuss the pain caused by the letter. Some leaders went so far as to suggest that they might go to friends in Congress and request a hearing into the behavior of the Christian groups.

Now while this flare-up is new, the underlying tensions have been with us for a generation. So too has the bullying behavior of some of the mainstream Jewish organizations.

It was 34 years ago that we formed the Palestine Human Rights Committee (PHRC). The PHRC had as its principle objectives the defense of Palestinian human rights victims and the application of provisions of U.S. law requiring that recipients of U.S. assistance not use that aid to violate human rights. Bringing together Arab Americans, African American civil rights leaders, leaders of the peace movement, and leaders from many of the same Christian churches who signed the recent letter to Congress, the PHRC achieved some success in elevating human rights concerns, but incurred the wrath of some major Jewish organizations. We were subjected to exclusion and defamation. We were denounced as "pro-terrorist" and our efforts to join a major progressive peace coalition were blocked. Despite winning the support of over 90% of the coalition's members, two Jewish groups threatened to abandon the group if we were allowed to join. The executive committee of the coalition was cowed by these threats and twice rejected our application for membership.

There have been many other examples of this behavior but it all boils down to the same modus operandi: the use of hysterical and exaggerated rhetoric in an effort to intimidate opponents, coupled with the ultimate threat to "take my ball and not play anymore."

What all these childish and bullying antics attempt to do is to obscure the real issues being raised (in this case, the charge that U.S. aid enables Israel to violate Palestinian human rights in contravention of U.S. law) and to substitute the "pretend" insult (in this case, that the letter signed by the Christian groups is a form of anti-Zionism or anti-Judaism) as the issue that takes precedence and must be discussed first.

The net results of these tactics are: a silencing of any discussion or examination of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians; aid to Israel continues to be delivered without questions, oversight, or any conditions; the very meaning of anti-Semitism or, in this recent case, "anti-Judaism" is cheapened and equated not just with criticism of Israeli policy, but even with the mere call to examine that policy; Palestinians continue to suffer; Israelis who support peace and human rights for Palestinians find they have no allies in the U.S. government; and U.S. credibility in the Middle East continues to suffer.

It is, to be sure, bullying. It is counter-productive and damaging to discourse and respect amongst peoples. These tactics have worked in the past. Will it work again? We'll wait to see how the Christian groups respond, but I, for one, hope that the church leaders stand their ground. They do not owe anyone an apology for their letter. Instead they deserve to be commended by all Americans for their brave and balanced commitment to peace, justice, and human rights.

Dr. James J. Zogby is the author of Arab Voices (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010) and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI).

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-zogby/efforts-to-silence-an-app_b_1992396.html?view=print

_______________________________________________________________________

\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Interfaith bullying, and a feckless letter from the Episcopal bishop
by Mark Braverman
October 19, 2012
Mondoweiss

 Bullying is not limited to schoolyards.  It happens in political fights as well.  It’s particularly shocking when it occurs between faith groups, but seems to be the norm whenever Israel is discussed in an open room.  The bullies are doing their best to make sure that discussion never happens.

 Recently a conference held by the organization, Friends of Sabeel North America, was the subject of “interfaith bullying.”  Jewish community agencies and several local rabbis tried to shut down the conference by spreading rumors about Sabeel’s anti-Semitism (read Sabeel Program Director Don Wagner’s excellent Huffington Post piece entitled “Stop the Bullying Now.”)  The conference went on, of course, but on its heels arrived another instance of attempted bullying, which is the subject of this column. 

 This latest case of bullying was the stunningly aggressive response of major Jewish organizations to the ground-breaking letter of fifteen church leaders calling for an investigation of U.S. aid to Israel. Lining up to express their outrage were the Anti-Defamation League, the Rabbinical Assembly and the American Jewish Committee. Accompanying the outrage was the threat to abandon “interfaith” dialogue with the churches.

 I am personally pleased that we are seeing the end of this kind of dialogue, which has been no dialogue at all but what I would call "soft bullying," a conversation in which those who claim to represent the Jewish community have set the rules that Christians have obediently followed. In Jewish liberation theologian Marc Ellis’ terms, it was a deal designed to relieve Christians of their guilt over anti-Semitism by making any meaningful criticism of Israel or challenge to Zionism out of bounds. "Ecumenical deal crumbles,” announced Adam Horowitz, calling on American Jews to move away from the old rules and to instead confront the hard issues raised by Israel’s actions. One group of rabbis has already done so. Christians should follow blogger M.J. Rosenberg’s advice to not be intimidated but to go forth to speak the truth. And, following Jesus, pray for these persecutors—and for the day when meaningful conversation can resume.

 Five days later a second letter appeared. In it, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of America wrote to President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, calling for “the full engagement of the United States and its president in the resolution of the conflict.” This letter must be seen as the Bishop’s response to hard questioning from her own ranks about her conspicuous absence from the list of signatories to the Oct. 5 letter. In tone and thrust it differs dramatically from the earlier letter. Reaffirming the Episcopal Church’s commitment to a “two-state solution” that creates a “viable” Palestinian state, the letter ignores the policies that have destroyed the possibility of such a state. In deploring “unacceptable levels of violence on all sides,” the letter rides roughshod over the reality of an overwhelming power imbalance between an occupying military superpower and an unarmed subject population. Most important, Bishop Schori calls for “resumption of negotiations” while ignoring the conditions that have rendered them fruitless and will continue to serve only as political charade while the annexation and ethnic cleansing continue. In the words of today’s letter to the Bishop from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network, “restarting bilateral negotiations may create the illusion of progress but will simply condemn the Palestinians to continued loss of their land and resources.”

 These two letters tell a story, and it is the story of a church struggle. I learned this term from the South Africans. It’s how they characterize the struggle between those churches that stepped out in the 1980s to stand against Apartheid, and those who held back, stuck in the mud of reform, pacification and accommodation with the oppressive regime. The struggle we are witnessing here is the same struggle. It is not a struggle between those who believe that Greater Israel with Jerusalem “unified” (i.e., Judaized and Arabrein as Israel’s capital is the will of God) or that the Jewish people have a moral or historical right to displace the Palestinians, and those who work to liberate Palestinians—and their Israeli occupiers—from tyranny and Apartheid. No, this struggle is between the prophets and the moderates, those who understand that following the justice imperative is the key to peace and those who, although declaring their commitment to justice seek above all not to rock the boat—or, to use a better image, not to step out of the boat.

  The fifteen faith leaders have summoned up their faith and have stepped out of the boat. Yes, their letter serves up the obligatory “balanced” language condemning violence on “both sides,” but, that out of the way, it gets right to the point—that the U.S. policy of unconditional financial and diplomatic support for Israel lies at the heart of the problem and is the barrier to peace, “sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.” The divestment and boycott initiatives undertaken by the denominations that have drawn so much attention are not mentioned in the letter, but they are there in the background, and, together with strong statements like this one, will eventually bring about the required change. It is the church that will lead, as it did in the anti-Apartheid struggle and the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.

 In contrast, the Bishop’s letter serves as a moderate “alternative” to the bold advocacy of the Oct. 5 letter. We have seen this before. We saw it in the “Call to Unity” of the eight white pastors and one rabbi to whom Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” To their urging that “negotiation is the better path,” he answered, “Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” We saw it when the mounting resistance to the status quo of racist minority rule in South Africa was met by “reform” efforts by a Pretoria government seeking to preserve Apartheid through black bantustan “homelands” and a two-tiered system of justice and legislative representation for black South Africans who were not equal citizens at all but a captive underclass. And the authors of the 1985 South Africa Kairos document responded, “no:” a tyrannous system cannot reform itself. As the church, they maintained, we must resist.

 The authors of the Oct. 5 letter likewise say “no” to the continued policy of “humanitarian” and economic aid to an occupied Palestine and continued “dialogue” between the parties while a program of annexation and human rights violations surges ahead with the massive financial support of our government. It says “no” to pleas for “reconciliation” where, in the words of the Kairos South Africa document, “‘reconciliation’ has been made into an absolute principle … There are conflicts where one side is a fully-armed and violent oppressor while the other side is defenseless and oppressed. To speak of reconciling these two is not only a mistaken application of the Christian idea of reconciliation; it is a total betrayal of all that Christian faith has ever meant.”

 The Kairos USA document speaks to this church struggle. It says “no” to “a system of control, inequality and oppression [we have supported] through misreading of our Holy Scriptures, flawed theology and distortions of history … theological and political ideas that have made us complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. Instead of speaking and acting boldly, we have chosen to offer careful statements designed to avoid controversy and leave cherished relationships undisturbed.”

 Bishop Jefferts Schori’s letter effectively says “yes” to that very system of control, inequality and oppression. In stark contrast, the Oct. 5 letter of the fifteen church leaders provides welcome evidence of the Church’s awakening to the “fierce urgency of now” spoken of by Martin Luther King Jr. It is a resounding “no” to the bankruptcy, futility and heresy of the old, familiar path of making peace with oppression—a peace, as the prophets and Jesus cry out, that is no peace. “Division” is the word chosen by Jesus to describe the process that brings about the peace he proclaims for the world. A real peace, the peace emerging from embracing the kairos, comes only with the clarity of knowing what is right and what is wrong, willingly taking up that cross and carrying it proudly amid the name calling, the charges of treachery and treason, and the pleas to be silent, the pleas to stay in the boat.

 As I write this today, more salvos against the leaders’ letter charging anti-Semitism and betrayal of Christian-Jewish friendship are being released. We know that responsible advocacy for human rights for Palestinians and a sane, compassionate U.S. policy have nothing to do with anti-Jewish feeling. But make no mistake—we are seeing only the beginning of the battle that will be waged to silence this church movement. Church leaders will need to learn to withstand the charges and the foot-stamping— and must be prepared for the tougher measures that are certain to be taken as this movement gains momentum and adherents across the ecumenical spectrum. But the real struggle faced by the church is not with the organized Jewish community. The real struggle will be waged within the church itself. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed this out to his fellow clergy almost 50 years ago, and the words ring out with startling clarity:

 The judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century.


 Mark Braverman is Program Director of Kairos USA, a movement to unify U.S. Christians and Church organizations to take a prophetic stand for peace in Israel and Palestine.

Source:  http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/interfaith-bullying-and-a-feckless-letter-from-the-episcopal-bishop.html

______________________________________________________________
 
\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Major Jewish Organizations Go Berserk
(Call Christians Indifferent to “Anti-Judaism”)

MJ Rosenberg

I never thought I'd ever have anything good to say about AIPAC. But I do.

I want to praise AIPAC for its lack of hypocrisy. AIPAC is the Israel lobby. It makes no pretense of caring about anything except Israel. It has no position on any matter that does not relate to Israel.

It is like every other single-interest group (with the difference being that its single interest is a foreign country). It does not pretend to be anything it is not. For AIPAC, politics begins at the water's edge.

This is not the case with other Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Committee, the Union of Reform Judaism (Reform), the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (the “action” arm of the Jewish federations). These three are dedicated, or so they say, to the interests of Americans, Jewish Americans in particular but, they would argue, all Americans. They are interested in Israel (although the American Jewish Committee was traditionally anti-Zionist and has played catch-up since 1967) but Israel is not what they are about.

They are about defending the rights of Jews in America. Here is the mission of the Anti-Defamation League as spelled out in its charter:
The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens. But that is changing big time. The non-AIPAC organizations have become as Israel-centric as AIPAC, so much so that they are now abandoning their traditional partners in the general community who do not share their views hawkish views on Israel. They are saying: If you are not with us on Israel, we are not with you on … America.

It is no surprise that this is happening now. As the younger generation of Jews becomes more apathetic towards Netanyahu's Israel, and as 50% of Jews marry non-Jews, these organizations are terrified. Who is their next generation of leaders? More important, who is their next generation of donors? Who is going to tell candidates that attitudes toward Israel is all that matter to them? The organizational leaders know that they can't even count on their own kids. Does anyone under 40 ever join the American Jewish Committee?

It is no wonder that they are paranoid, so paranoid that they are telling church groups that they will no longer dialogue with them over matters of mutual concern. (Hello, Jewish organizations, we are 2% of the population. We need dialogue more than Christians do.)

What provoked the Jewish organizations (including J Street, by the way) is that 15 church groups asked Congress to examine U.S. aid programs to Israel to make sure that they are compliance with US law and policy. This is no more than what domestic programs like farm subsidies or funds for cancer research are subjected to. (In Congress, this is called, “oversight.”) But the organizations don't want Congress looking at aid to Israel at all. After all, aid to Israel is the only US program never subjected to budget cuts because AIPAC gets its exempted. Why should it be subject to US law?

Take a look at the letter the Jewish Council on Public Affairs has just issued.
Cancelling an interfaith dialogue meeting, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other Jewish groups have called for a summit with the heads of Jewish organizations that have been engaged in the roundtable and the heads of the Christian denominations that penned a letter to Congress calling for an investigation into Israel's use of the U.S. military aid.

“The letter signed by 15 church leaders is a step too far,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.  “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 denominations. We remain committed to the enterprise of interfaith relations because it is central to the development of a just and righteous society.  But these churches have squandered our trust.  They either refuse to pay attention to our plea for a fair appraisal of the situation or they simply do not care.  Their stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.”

“It is the right of these Christian leaders to say what they want to Congress or anyone else,” added JCPA Chair Larry Gold.  “And it is our right to say 'enough is enough.'  We will continue to be vigilant against anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian activities wherever and whenever we see them because it is the right thing to do.  If only the leaders of these churches cared a fraction as much about the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activities that have found comfortable homes in their denominations. How tragic that some of our counterparts in the churches are not only silent to this invective, they are responsible for it." Crazy, no? Especially when you read what these guys are flipping out over.

Here is what the Christians wrote:

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….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. According to the Jewish groups, the churches have to support unconditional aid to Israel when nothing else in our budget is unconditional.

Talk about chutzpah.

Think about it. What if a Muslim organization told its Jewish partners on, say, immigration reform, that it would not work with Jews unless they support its position on Palestine or the war in Syria? It wouldn't happen because it's self-defeating and downright stupid, in addition to being ridiculously arrogant.

The organizations should shut up. And supposed liberal leaders like Rabbis David Saperstein and Steven Gutow need to be exposed for what they are: moral leaders on the cheap. When it comes to Israel, Palestine or Muslims in general, they line up with the other AIPAC puppets. This is nothing: they were silent about the Gaza slaughter, too.

No wonder they have lost most American Jews.

Christians: Do not be intimidated. These hacks represent no one but themselves. They do not speak for Jews.

They don't even speak for Jews who care deeply about Israel and who want to see Israelis and Palestinians live in peace and security. It's all about not offending their donors. After all, once you have gotten used to a $500,000 a year salary, it's hard getting accustomed to anything less.

M.J. Rosenberg served as a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow with Media Matters Action Network, and prior to that worked on Capitol Hill for various Democratic members of the House and Senate for 15 years. He was also a Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the early 1980s, he was editor of AIPACs weekly newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum.

Source:  http://mjayrosenberg.com/2012/10/17/major-jewish-organizations-go-berserk-call-christians-indifferent-to-anti-judaism/

_______________________________________________________________________
 
New York Times Flacks for Jewish Groups Against 15 Major Christian Leaders

by James M. Wall
October 20, 2012
wallwritings

You have to know American Jewish "leaders" are really riled up when they call on the New York Times to flack for them against 15 leaders of Christian churches who had the audacity to send a letter to the US Congress, which said, with proper Christian indignation:

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.

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.

Is that clear? These church leaders are saying it is their moral responsibility to tell the Congress that it must hold Israel accountable to U.S. laws and policies when it disburses money to Israel.

So what's the big news angle in the New York Times story for Saturday, October 20, following the release of the letter from the 15 leaders to Congress?  The lead of the story should be that "American Jewish leaders defend the action of a secular state that receives more U.S. foreign aid than any other nation in the world"

What these so-called "outraged" Jewish groups are saying is that their feelings are hurt. These American Jewish leaders have worked so hard over the decades to maintain "good relations" with their Christian colleagues, and just as they were about to have yet another "good relations" meeting between Christians and Jews (no mention of Muslims, it must be noted), here come 15 Christian leaders demanding accountability from a secular foreign state for hunan rights violations carried out with American money.

Man (and woman) the barricades, the fragile American relationships between Jews and Christians is under severe threat. In case you have missed this unfolding threat to fragile American relationships between Jews and Christians (still no Muslims involved), this is how the Times' Laurie Goodstein began her not-so subtle attack on the 15 Protestant  leaders:

A letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches that calls for Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel because of accusations of human rights violations has outraged Jewish leaders and threatened to derail longstanding efforts to build interfaith relations.

The Christian leaders say their intention was to put the Palestinian plight and the stalled peace negotiations back in the spotlight at a time when all of the attention to Middle East policy seems to be focused on Syria, the Arab Spring and the Iranian nuclear threat.

The church leaders did not ask Congress to "reconsider" giving aid to Israel. And note the use of the weasel word "accusations" of human rights, as though Israel's violations of Palestinian human rights has not been amply demonstrated over the decades. The Times says the letter is intended to "put the Palestinian plight and the stalled peace negotiations back in the spotlight".   That is balderdash, as Joe Biden likes to say.

The 15 leaders make no reference to a"motive" for writing the latter. They do not have to. The New Testament is their motive. Putting the Palestinian "plight" in the "spotlight" is Times speak, speculation without attribution.

The Times failed to explain that the "Jewish groups" that are attacking the 15 Christian leaders, are being directed by a secular organization, the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA). The Times does not distinguish between religious Jews and political Zionist Jews, a fatal flaw in its coverage. How secular is the JCPA? You be the judge. Here is how the JCPA describes its mission:

The mission of the Council is to serve as the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community in addressing the principal mandate of the Jewish community relations field, expressed in three interrelated goals:

One: To safeguard the rights of Jews here and around the world. Two:  To dedicate ourselves to the safety and security of the state of Israel. Three: To protect, preserve and promote a just American society, one that is democratic and pluralistic, one that furthers harmonious interreligious, inter ethnic interracial and    other intergroup relations.

"To dedicate ourselves to the safety and security of the state of Israel" is not biblical, my friends, it is political. The Times should say so. Instead it puts the JCPA, a secular public affairs organization, under the same umbrella as the rabbis and the 15 Christian church leaders.

The planned Monday interfaith dialogue meeting was canceled by the JCPA, a secular organization. Here is the start of its news release making the announcement:

Canceling an interfaith dialogue meeting, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other Jewish groups, have called for a summit with the heads of Jewish organizations that have been engaged in the roundtable and the heads of the Christian denominations that penned a letter to Congress calling for an investigation into Israel’s use of the U.S. military aid.

“The letter signed by 15 church leaders is a step too far,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.  “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 denominations. We remain committed to the enterprise of interfaith relations because it is central to the development of a just and righteous society.

To be clear, some of the Jewish groups that signed the JCPA letter, have rabbis in their titles, making them religious. But others, like the American Jewish Committee, are not religious.

Jewish theologian Marc Ellis has warned Christian leaders that when they agreed to accept the "ecumenical deal" with their Jewish counterparts, they were opting out of any possible prophetic leadership in the Middle East.  The deal, by the way, was the tacit understanding between earlier generations of Christian and Jewish leaders that they would work in all sorts of common projects, ranging from cooperative civil rights struggles in the U.S..to mutual worship events in local communities.

That "deal" has always reminded me of what my father used to say about the Methodist and Baptist churches in our "dry" Georgia county.  Usually speaking so my teetotaling mother and aunt could hear him, he would declare, "The churches are in cahoots with the bootleggers in this county."

He was right; the church folks, unwillingingly, of course, kept the county dry while the bootleggers made enough illegal whiskey to satisfy the needs of the pious members of the community who wanted a "little pick up at the end of the day".  At least, that's what my teetotaling father always said.

The kicker in the Marc Ellis description of the"ecumenical deal" was the understanding that Israel always would be off limits to religious criticism by the churches.  Essentially, the deal was this: We work  together, but you leave Israel alone.

The deal was sweetened over the years by all-expenses paid clergy trips to the Holy Land and some shared breaking of bread among Jews and Christians (still no Muslims, of course).The deal between our contemporary churches and our contemporary bootleggers has held firm, until, that is, U.S. denominations started passing resolutions calling for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS), to protest the continued violations of human rights in Palestine.

Those resolutions outraged the same Jewish leaders who are now upset by the letter to Congress from the church leaders. That's why these Jewish leaders infiltrated religious denominational meetings to intimidate voters and water down resolutions as much as they could.

Now, in October, 2012, 15 U.S. Protestant church leaders are fed up with the lack of human rights action by the U.S. government. So it was that together they composed a remarkable statement and sent it off to the U.S. Congress.

Jewish leaders, and publications like the New York Times, were suddenly confronted by a new phenomenon from within the churches. You could almost hear them asking, like a puzzled Butch Cassidy, who are these guys, anyway? Who are these 15 U.S. church leaders with their outrageous defiance of the "ecumenical deal"?

To begin with, the 15 church leaders are heavyweights, top officials for their denominations. They include the leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Two Catholic leaders also signed, not including the Catholic Council of Bishops.

These are not just leaders of a few religious groups, which a Protestant version of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs could corral into an interfaith dialogue meeting.

These are the major-domos of American Protestantism, which raises the question of what exactly gives the JCPA and its scattered letter signers, these "outraged Jewish groups" as the Times calls them,  the right to claim religious standing in this conversation. Many of these Jewish groups are secular and function as part of the Israel Lobby, a collection of lobbying organizations that have Israel, not Judaism as their primary client.

The false premise that Goodstein, and the New York Times operate from is that the 15 Christian church leaders are required to "get along" with the Israel Lobby, not the Jewish religious establishment of this nation.  Are church leaders required by the Times to "get along" with the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce?

This false premise is blending apples and oranges, nothing consistent about it.

A bit of history could be helpful here. When the modern state of Israel was created by the United Nations in 1949, that move was preceded by decades of dialogue within world Jewry. Many Jewish religious leaders reminded the Zionists in their midst that idolatry was prohibited by Scripture, citing the passage, " Thou shall  have no other God before me (Exodus 20:3)".

Zionism was a political movement that created a modern secular state.  It did so through force of military arms and by the blatant exploitation of the horrors of the Holocaust. They called their new state a "Jewish state", but that is a secular ethnic designation, not a religious one. It also contradicts the foundation of a democracy, since as it was formed, there was a substantial number of non-Jews within its borders.

In the years leading up to 1949, there was considerable Jewish religious opposition to the creation of a secular state of Israel. The battle was between Zionists and non-Zionists. The biblical admonition that it is idolatry to equate a state with Yahweh, was ignored.

The 15 church leaders have declared that they believe it is their moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. The cancelation of an interfaith meeting by the Jewish Council of Public Affairs was a political move which the New York Times helped to promote.

The JCPA and it letter signers have no dogs in this hunt. They can be as outraged as they want.  This is still a free country. But the 15 church leaders have made the right religious, not political, move. They are speaking the language of "moral responsibility" in a letter directed to the U.S. Congress on the matter of U.S. funds used by Israel to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Interfaith dialogue has always been nothing more than a device used by American Jewish groups to intimidate the American churches into keeping the ecumenical deal. By this intimidation, these groups have followed the example set by the government of Israel which has long used the so-called "peace process" to sustain its occupation and expand its borders, always to the detriment of the Palestinian people.

It is the right time for the leaders of the American churches to make their moral demand to the Congress. With their letter, they have done so, courageously, considering the political climate of our time. Interfaith dialogue can wait.

James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois.  From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine.

Source:  http://wallwritings.me/2012/10/20/new-york-times-flacks-for-jewish-groups-against-15-major-christian-leaders

_____________________________________________________________________________
 
\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Rabbis Support Protestant Leaders' Call to End Unconditional Military Aid to Israel
by Rabbi Alissa Wise
Director of Campaigns, Jewish Voice for Peace
October 22, 2012
The Huffington Post

Last week, a letter was sent to Congress by several prominent American Christian leaders that called on lawmakers to "make U.S. military aid to Israel contingent upon its government's compliance with applicable US laws and policies." While most wouldn't consider it unreasonable for our nation to insist that an aid recipient abide by U.S. laws, a number of Jewish organizations nonetheless chose to attack the letter publicly, all but labeling it anti-Semitic, and pulled out of a planned Christian-Jewish Roundtable.

Last Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it was withdrawing from a national Jewish-Christian dialogue planned for Oct. 22 (Washington Post, Oct. 11). Now, seven other Jewish organizations are following suit and stepping away from the planned roundtable. Explained ADL director Abraham Foxman: "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."

As fellow Jewish leaders, we are profoundly disappointed that some in our community have chosen to literally walk away from the table of dialogue. Actions such as these run directly counter to the spirit and mission of interfaith understanding. Indeed, true dialogue does not only occur in the areas in which both parties find agreement, but particularly in those difficult places where there is disagreement and divergence of opinion.

Considering the vehemence of such a response, one might assume the Christian leaders' letter was filled with outrageous and incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric. In fact, the letter is a sensitively worded and faithful call, citing "both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being," acknowledging "the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions," the "horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings," and "the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society."

Yes, the signatories of the letter also express their concern over "widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others." But as difficult as it might be for some Israel-supporters to accept such claims, these are not spurious or arguable allegations.

We believe this decision is a terrible mistake, and reveals these Jewish organizations' confusion about the nature of interfaith cooperation. It is not the role of these Jewish organizations to dictate how their Christian partners can live out their conscience or their values -- no matter how much they may disagree. After all, the signers of the letter, and the churches they represent, have ancient and continuing ties to the land of Israel just as we do -- and we must be ready to admit that their concerns for the safety and dignity of Christian Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are just as compelling as our concern for the safety and dignity of Jews there. Indeed, these Christian organizations have expressed their concern for the security of Jews in the Holy Land, while the ADL letter, as well as the one released by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, denies the reality of Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians. Unpleasant realities cannot be discarded simply because these organizations regard such issues as off limits. Attempting to control what, when, and how our interfaith partners can live out their moral convictions undermines the entire premise of true dialogue and the potential for interfaith partnership.

It is hardly outrageous for American taxpayers to require Israel's compliance with our nation's laws and policies. The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act specifically prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations, limiting the use of U.S. weapons to "internal security" or "legitimate self-defense."

As the letter notes, the most recent 2011 U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories detailed numerous human rights violations committed by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians -- many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.

As Mideast analyst MJ Rosenberg has rightly pointed out, in response to the current economic downturn, Congress has been scrutinizing all domestic assistance programs to ensure that they are being carried out legally and in compliance with stated U.S. policy. If we are willing to scrutinize such venerable programs as Social Security and food stamps, why should U.S. military aid to Israel be exempt?

By contrast, U.S. aid to the Palestinians, though miniscule in comparison to the massive unconditional military aid we send to Israel, has, as Rosenberg himself points out, "so many conditions [that] USAID barely knows how to legally deliver it."

While some might feel that requiring assistance to be compliant with U.S. law would compromise Israel's security, there is every reason to believe that precisely the opposite is true. Israel's human rights abuses do not make it more secure; they serve only to create further instability and resentment in a profoundly unstable part of the world. As Israel's primary ally, our country alone is able to create the kind of leverage that might challenge Israel to turn away from policies that impede the cause of a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians -- and true security for all who live in the region.

We regret that these Jewish organizations opted to disengage from their Christian colleagues on this painful issue that is of such deep concern to both faith communities. We believe that if we face down our fear and suspicion, Jews and Christians will invariably find that we do indeed have much to learn from one another.

Rabbis Alissa Wise and Brant Rosen are the co-founders of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council.

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alissa-wise/rabbis-support-protestant-leaders-call-to-end-unconditional-military-aid-to-israel_b_1989772.html

_______________________________________________________________________
 
 
A New Wave Of "Vicious Anti-Zionism"
by Andrew Sullivan
21 Oct 2012
The Daily Beast

The ranks of alleged "bigots" now extend to most of the mainline Protestant churches:

    The signers, besides the Presbyterians, included leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Two Catholic leaders also signed, one with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an umbrella group of men’s religious orders.

What did they say, what word did they use, what "code" or "trope" did they slip into that proves their Jew-hatred? From a letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches:

    Through ... direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.

    We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others. We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source. Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.

Here's the response from the Jewish Council For Public Affairs:

    The letter signed by 15 church leaders is 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 denominations... Their stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.

Funny, but in the quote from the churches I just cited above, there is no "stony silence" at all - in fact a clear defense of Israelis right to be free from the pain and suffering caused by terrorism by Hamas and others. So what's the point of the letter? “We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country,” the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) told the Times, “to make sure our military aid is going to a country espousing the values we would as Americans — that it’s not being used to continually violate the human rights of other people.”

That's "vicious anti-Zionism?" It would be if it were only applied to Israel. But it isn't:

    Humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority was suspended last year because of violations, and Congress is re-evaluating aid to Egypt, noted Peter Makari, the executive for the Middle East and Europe in global ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who helped write the letter. “The need to hold Israel as accountable as other countries in the region is important,” he said.

If humanitarian aid can be suspended for the struggling Palestinians, cannot military aid be suspended for the prosperous Israelis? It seems to me that aid of all kinds should have basic human rights strings attached to it. I would have suspended all aid to Israel when it refused to stop its settlement policy on the West Bank, but that's a little like being in favor of an immediate space station on Mars, given the Greater Israel lobby's grip on Congress.

So let me just reiterate something that has no chance of ever happening, but I might as well put on the record: we should treat Israel as any other recipient of US aid. If a country is occupying and settling land conquered through war, if it's treating a minority population with inhumanity, the US should stand up for Western values. It should not single Israel out; but we have to stop treating Israel as the exception to every other US foreign policy rule.

Source:  http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/10/a-new-wave-of-anti-semitism.html

_______________________________________________________________________
 
\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Christians’ letter was reasonable, worded sensitively
By Brant Rosen
October 23, 2012
JTA: The Global News Service of the Jewish People
and
October 24, 2012
Jewish Journal

OP-ED

CHICAGO (JTA) -- There has long been an unwritten covenant between the Jewish establishment and Christian leaders when it comes to interfaith dialogue: “We can talk about any religious issues we like, but criticism of Israel’s human rights violations is off limits.”

Over the past few weeks, we’ve painfully witnessed what can happen when Christians break this covenant by speaking their religious conscience.

On Oct. 5, 15 prominent American Christian leaders released a letter that called on Congress to make military aid to Israel “contingent upon its government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.”

While most Americans wouldn’t consider it unreasonable for our nation to insist that an aid recipient abide by U.S. laws, some Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, lashed out at their Christian colleagues, eventually walking out on a scheduled Jewish-Christian roundtable. They are now requesting that the Christian leaders come to a “summit meeting” to discuss the situation.

Considering the vehemence of such a response, one might assume that the Christian leaders’ letter was filled with outrageous and incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric.

But in fact their letter is a sensitively worded and faithful call supporting “both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being,” as well as acknowledging “the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions,” the “horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings,” and “the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.”

Yes, the authors of the letter also expressed their concern over “widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others.”

As painful as it might be for these Jewish groups to hear, however, these are not scurrilous or arguable “allegations.” They long have been documented by international human rights groups, including the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem. The letter points out that a 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices has detailed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.

Why has the Jewish establishment reacted so violently to a relatively balanced and religiously based call? Because by speaking their conscience, these Christian leaders had the audacity to break the unwritten covenant: If you want to have a dialogue with us, leave Israel alone.

A recent JTA Op-Ed by Rabbi Noam E. Marans, who serves as director of interreligious and intergroup relations for the American Jewish Committee, provided an interesting window into the mechanics of this covenant. In his Oct. 21 piece, “Christians’ letter is an unworthy tactic,” Marans said nothing about the substance of the letter itself, choosing instead to vehemently attack the Protestant leaders and reject the statement as nothing less than “the opening of a new anti-Israel front.”

Marans went on to surmise that this reasonable, religiously based call for justice was the product of “certain leaders” who are frustrated with “their own failure to convince denominations to use divestment as a club to pressure Israel.” Nowhere did he address the issue of Israeli human rights violations (except to refer to them as “allegations.”) In the end, he suggested that this letter represents “the anti-Israel sentiment of some Christian leaders and their small but vocal, energetic and well-funded following who are attempting to hijack the positive trajectory of Christian-Jewish relations.”

It is difficult to read such a statement without concluding that Marans’ definition of “postive Christian-Jewish relations” means anything other than “no criticism of Israel allowed.”

It is important to note that the letter to Congress was not written by a few angry church renegades; it was authored by 15 prominent church leaders representing a wide spectrum of the Protestant faith community, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee.

While it is painful to read such accusations leveled at respected Christian leaders by a Jewish director of interreligious and intergroup relations, it is even more saddening that some Jewish organizations have chosen to walk away from a scheduled interfaith roundtable, then demand that the Christian leaders attend a “summit” on their own dictated terms.

It is not the role of Jewish organizations to dictate how their Christian partners can live out their conscience or their values, no matter how much they may disagree. Unpleasant realities cannot be discarded simply because these organizations regard such issues as off limits.

We can only hope that these Christian leaders will stand firm and that this sad episode will lead us to a new kind of interfaith covenant -- one based on trust and respect, a willingness to face down our fear and suspicion of one another, and a readiness to discuss the painful, difficult issues that may divide us.

Will the American Jewish establishment be up to such a task?

Rabbi Brant Rosen is the co-chair of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace and a congregational rabbi in Evanston, Ill.)

Sources: 
http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/23/3110126/op-ed-christians-letter-was-reasonable-worded-sensitively
and
http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/opinion_christians_letter_was_reasonable_worded_sensitively

_______________________________________________________________________________

 
Heading toward an irreparable rift between U.S. Jews and Protestants
Relations between Jews and mainline Protestants in the U.S. hit a 45-year low after 15 Protestant leaders sent a letter to Congress urging that aid to Israel be reconsidered.

By Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Oct.24, 2012
Haaretz

There have always been ups and downs in the relations between mainline Protestants and American Jews, but they have now hit a 45-year low.  And this time, they may not recover.

On October 5, fifteen mainline Protestant leaders sent a letter to Congress urging that American aid to Israel be reconsidered because of settlement building and human rights violations by Israel in the West Bank.  Leaders of the Jewish community, across the ideological and religious spectrum, responded with dismay, disbelief, and outrage.

Relations between Jews and mainline Protestants have long been stormy.  The exception is the honeymoon period of roughly 20 years following World War II.  On the Protestant side, there was guilt over Christian silence during the Holocaust.  On the Jewish side, there was a craving for respectability and acceptance that came with the Jewish migration from the cities to the suburbs.  In addition, there was a broad convergence of values and interests; both sides were champions of civil rights and strict church-state separation.

But all of this came crashing down in May of 1967.  As Egypt’s Nasser prepared for war and proclaimed his intention to annihilate millions of Jews, the American Jewish community expected its Protestant allies to rally to Israel’s defense.  But most remained silent, and the relations so carefully nurtured during previous decades collapsed.  At that moment, the issues were clear:  Israel’s existence was threatened and Jewish lives were at stake. Jewish leaders wondered if there was not some profound theological animus at work on the Protestant side, beyond the reach of polite discussion.

Still, cooperation continued in many areas; both sides promoted dialogue, and efforts were made to understand each other’s concerns.   But the Jews could not shake an underlying suspicion and absence of trust.  And inevitably, the ebb and flow of Jewish-Protestant relations were intimately connected to political developments in Israel and the Middle East; as each new crisis unfolded, the Jews came to Israel’s defense while the mainline Protestant championed the Palestinian cause, often in a way that seemed indifferent to Israel’s well-being.  Most recently, divestment from Israel proposed by Protestant church leaders, beginning with the Presbyterians in 2004, has poisoned the atmosphere yet again.

The Congressional letter of October 5 must be seen in this context.  Criticism of settlements is completely legitimate; I am an outspoken settlement critic myself. But the Protestant leaders made no effort to include in their letter words that might have reassured Jews and others that this effort was not motivated by hostility to Israel. They could have expressed the hope that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table in the days ahead. They could have said that just as the Jewish people must welcome the Palestinian people as neighbors in a sovereign Palestinian state, so too must the Palestinian people welcome the Jewish people as neighbors in a sovereign Jewish state. They could have said that just as a two-state solution will require Israel to radically change its settlement policy, so too will it require the Palestinians to renounce the Right of Return and to declare the conflict with Israel over—once and for all.

But the Protestant leaders did none of these things. And by failing to do so, they aroused all of the suspicions that exist in the Jewish community about the real intentions of the letter.

To be sure, no matter what the wording, Jewish leaders would never agree to a reduction of American aid to Israel. Except for a few fringe groups, this is a consensus position of the Jewish community.  For all their differences, American Jews see military aid, to which the letter refers, as being of vital importance, both practically and symbolically. The fact is that no matter how strong her army, Israel remains a small state in a hostile neighborhood, threatened by the uncertainties of the Arab Spring and by the Jew-hating, Holocaust-denying government of Iran; and American military and political support are Israel’s lifeline and security umbrella.  A reduction in aid would be seen as America distancing herself from Israel’s security concerns and as an invitation to attack and mischief by Israel’s enemies.

Still, the Jewish community does not expect other religious and ethnic groups to agree with it on everything; neither does it expect that all Americans will endorse a settlement policy that the American government regularly criticizes. But it does expect that Israel’s critics will employ a single standard of moral judgment when evaluating Israeli/Palestinian realities; it does expect that those who speak the language of fairness and balance will actually be fair and balanced; and it does expect that those who have, in the past, been insufficiently concerned about Israel’s security and survival will exercise special care in their political statements.  None of these things happened with the October 5th letter.

Should American Jews and mainline Protestants continue to talk?  They should, and I am pleased that Jewish leaders proposed a special summit to clear the air. But for now, Jews are deeply disappointed, proceeding cautiously, and rightly wary about where their troubled relations with Protestants will go.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie served as President of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012. He is now a writer, lecturer, and teacher, and lives with his family in Westfield, New Jersey.

Source:  http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/heading-toward-an-irreparable-rift-between-u-s-jews-and-protestants.premium-1.471967

_______________________________________________________________________
  
\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »

 
Christian leaders cannot be cowed into silence over Israel's abuses of human rights

Eric Yoffie's criticism of the Protestant churches' letter to Congress is misplaced [see article immediately above on this page]: The price of 'interfaith dialogue' cannot be silenced by Christian leaders on Israel’s human rights violations, evidence of which I saw firsthand in a recent visit to the West Bank.


By Rabbi Brian Walt
Oct. 31, 2012
Haaretz

In his recent Haaretz op-ed, “Heading toward an irreparable rift between U.S. Jews and Protestants,” my colleague, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, sharply criticized the recent letter to Congress by leaders of Protestant churches that called for U.S. military aid to Israel to be contingent on Israeli compliance with American law. Nowhere in his article, however, did Yoffie mention the central concern of the Christian leaders’ letter: the overwhelming evidence of systematic human rights violations by the Israeli military against Palestinians.

Over the past two weeks, I had the privilege of leading an interfaith delegation including several leaders of the civil rights movement, younger civil and human rights leaders, Christian clergy, academics, and several Jews, on a two-week trip to the West Bank.

We were all shocked by the widespread human rights violations that we saw with our own eyes and that we heard about from both Palestinians and Israelis. Several black members of our group, including those who participated actively in the civil rights movement, remarked that what they saw on the West Bank was "frighteningly familiar" to their own experience, a systemic pattern of discrimination that privileged one group (in this case, Jews) and denigrated another (Palestinians).

Together we walked down Shuhadah Street in Hebron, a street restricted to Jews and foreigners where Hebron’s Palestinians are mostly not allowed to walk, even those Palestinians who own houses or stores on the street. This street was once the center of a bustling Palestinian city. Now the area is a ghost town with all the Palestinian stores shut down by the Israeli military.

We visited several villages on the West Bank whose land has been expropriated by the Israeli government and where their nonviolent protests against this injustice are met with rubber bullets and tear gas (we saw with our own eyes many empty canisters of tear gas made in the U.S.). We witnessed a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, watching soldiers in armored cars launch tear gas and shoot rubber bullets against children who were throwing stones. In this village, soldiers routinely enter homes in the middle of the night to arrest children, who are handcuffed and blindfolded, and taken to interrogation without the right to the presence of a parent or of consultation with a lawyer. The shocking abuse of children that we heard about from several sources, including Israeli lawyers, was particularly disturbing.

Our delegation also saw the rubble of Palestinian houses demolished by the Israeli authorities and waited in long lines at check points as Jewish motorists were waved through or passed unimpeded through special settler checkpoints.

We met with a young Palestinian man who played the part of Martin Luther King Jr. in a play about Dr. King’s life written by one of the people on our trip. This young man (like over 140,000 other West Bank Palestinians) has lost his residency rights as he went to Europe to study acting. Despite the fact that his family has lived in Jerusalem for generations, he is now unable to live in the city in which he was born. Yet I, or any other Jew, could become a citizen of Israel overnight and live in Jerusalem while enjoying many privileges available only to Jews.

Every day we were on the West Bank, we saw this pattern of discrimination: a systemic privileging of one ethnic group over another. Every day we heard about egregious human rights violations: Administrative detainees held in prison for years without any right to due process (a Palestinian due to talk to our group about prisoners was arrested two days before the presentation and is still in prison), massive land confiscation, separate roads and grave restrictions on movement.

As the Christian leaders’ letter indicated, all the violations we witnessed are made possible by unconditional American aid, in violation of American law. Rabbi Yoffie predicted that this statement may cause “an irreparable rift between U.S. Jews and Protestants.” It may be more accurate to say it may cause a rift between the American Jewish establishment and the Christian leaders who have until now been cowed with the warning that the price for “interfaith dialogue” is silence on Israel’s human rights violations.

But after these past several weeks, as I read the courageous Christian leaders’ letter and stood side-by-side with my interfaith colleagues on this remarkable delegation, I sense a new form of interfaith cooperation – one based in our mutual sacred imperative to “seek peace and pursue it.”

Rabbi Brian Walt is the Palestinian/Israeli Nonviolence Project Fellow of the Dorothy Cotton Institute. He was the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America from 2003-2008.
 
Source:  http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/christian-leaders-cannot-be-cowed-into-silence-over-israel-s-abuses-of-human-rights.premium-1.473556

_______________________________________________________________________
 
 
Ethical Activism Amid Politics as Usual

by Rami G. Khouri
27 Oct 2012
Agence Global

BOSTON -- Two very different ways for the United States to deal with Arabs and Israelis were on show last week in the United States. The contrast was stunning between the televised debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in which “I Love Israel more than You Love Israel” was the background theme song that permeated most discussions of issues, and a letter to Congress by 15 American religious leaders asking for aid to Israel to be assessed according to law-based human rights standards that Washington applies around the world.

The tilt towards Israeli views at the top of American politics is nothing new, and therefore is not surprising or even meaningful; it is the way politics works in Washington, where Israel usually can expect 90 percent or more of Congress to blindly support it, regardless of the morality, legality or consequences of Israel’s actions. The letter by the 15 church leaders is new, however, and therefore significant, because it reflects a growing recent trend to demand that the American government, churches and others treat Israel like they treat other nations, rather than allow Israel to live by a separate set of rules.

The 15 religious leaders represent many major faith groups in the U.S., including Presbyterians, Evangelical Lutherans, United Methodists, the National Council of Churches, the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, American Baptist Churches, United Church of Christ, and others.

They stress their evenhanded commitment “to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being,” and state that,

“[I]t 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. 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…” particularly in the realm of human rights issues and the use of American-supplied weapons.

Holding Israelis and Palestinians alike responsible for the prolonged violence in the region, the church leaders state that “unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace. Furthermore, such aid sustains the conflict and undermines the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

They ask for an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”

They urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance. They base this call in part on the 2011 U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons (including separate and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and settlers, confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of settlers, and violence by settlers against Palestinians).

The letter and the position of the churches it reflects are significant for several reasons. The most important is that this approach brings together American values, laws and foreign policy positions in a manner that the U.S. government itself often fails to do. Its call for a review of foreign aid policies on the basis of American legal requirements is a position that most Americans would support. It also clearly affirms that Israelis and Palestinians alike should have the same rights to peace, security and well-being, pre-empting the usual Israeli outcry that such demands for legal compliance by Israel are acts of reflexive anti-Semitism or some other twisted view.

These three elements demand that American foreign policy reflect American legal and ethical principles. They are also driven by concerns at the grassroots by ordinary American men and women who dislike how the pro-Israeli tilt in Washington has disfigured the integrity of faith-based values and legal dictates in the United States. This combination of ethics, law and activism, which are anchored in mainstream America, causes real problems for the pro-Israel lobbies and associated political thugs in Washington whose intimidating impact centers on politicians in the capital who often value incumbency over legality or morality. That is how politicians behave. But now, in response to the excesses of that process, we have a refreshing example of how faith leaders behave to redress the ethical imbalances that define American foreign policy in the Middle East.


Rami G. Khouri is Editor-at-large of The Daily Star, and Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon. You can follow him @ramikhouri.

Source:  http://www.agenceglobal.com/index.php?show=article&Tid=2906

_______________________________________________________________________

 
An ethical stand on aid to Israel

By Bill Maxwell, Times Correspondent
October 28, 2012
Tampa Bay Times

If peace is ever to exist between Israelis and Palestinians, it will happen as a direct result of the United States' involvement as a forceful, honest broker. The same is true of the proposed two-state solution that envisions Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.

But we cannot count on the U.S. government — which includes the president and Congress — to lead this process because most of our elected leaders depend on the Jewish vote and financial support. They avoid negative criticism of Israel, even remaining silent on decades of well-documented human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

Forceful leadership on this issue must come from elsewhere. Fortunately, it is. Several weeks ago, 15 respected American Christian leaders released a letter asking Congress to hold hearings to reconsider military aid to Israel "contingent upon its government's compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies."

These church leaders should be applauded for speaking their moral conscience. The hope is that Washington lawmakers finally will muster the courage to do the same. After all, they can change U.S. policy and forge peace in the region.

A signer of the letter, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, head of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), said: "We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country, to make sure our military aid is going to a country espousing the values we would as Americans — that it's not being used to continually violate the human rights of other people."

The letter was based on the signatories' firsthand observations in the Holy Land: "killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement."

The Christians also pointed out Israel's aggressive settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Incredibly, the construction continues unabated even as the United States pleads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop "claiming territory that under international law and United States policy should belong to a future Palestinian state."

This is land Palestinians have lived on for millennia. Netanyahu vows to continue building, and he announced that he is joining with his hard-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, in coming elections to create a new hawkish bloc in the Knesset, Israel's Parliament. Lieberman, an ultranationalist, rejects any concessions to the Palestinians.

Still, American Jewish leaders are excoriating the Christian signatories. They walked out on a scheduled interfaith "summit." Rabbi Noam E. Marans, director of interreligious and intergroup relations for the American Jewish Committee, wrote that the "Christians' letter is an unworthy tactic … the opening of a new anti-Israel attack." He also accused the group of "attempting to hijack the positive trajectory of Christian-Jewish relations."

Rabbi Brant Rosen, co-chair of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace and a congregational rabbi in Evanston, Ill., disagrees. He wrote the following of the Jewish response to the Christians' appeal to Congress: "As painful as it might be for these Jewish groups to hear … these are not scurrilous or arguable 'allegations.' They long have been documented by international human rights groups, including the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem. The letter points out that a 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices has detailed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons."

Rosen wrote that although the Christians' letter was reasonable and worded sensitively, it breached protocol: "There long has been an unwritten covenant between the Jewish establishment and Christian leaders when it comes to interfaith dialogue: 'We can talk about any religious issue we like, but criticism of Israel's human rights violations is off limits.' "

Criticism of Israel is the third rail for presidential candidates. During the last debate, GOP hopeful Mitt Romney again accused President Barack Obama of creating "daylight" between the United States and Israel, suggesting that Obama is critical of select Israeli actions, especially its treatment of the Palestinians.

It is true that Obama has tried to nudge Israel to halt settlements in the occupied territories and construction in East Jerusalem. And it is known that Obama and Netanyahu disagree on many issues and have an icy relationship. Does this represent so-called "daylight"?

Although the president has not been as publicly critical as the Christians who wrote to Congress, he apparently believes that the United States should treat Israel like it treats other nations that take our tax dollars for military purposes.

There should be preconditions. Israel must share our human rights values. This stance is not anti-Semitic. It is ethical.

Source:  http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/an-ethical-stand-on-aid-to-israel/1258469

_______________________________________________________________________
 
\When you have read these responses to the letter to Congress,
take action:

Sign the Letter of Support and Thanks to these courageous leaders
Nov 29th: 5200+ signatures  
Over 10,400
on other groups' similar support letters


Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read the Fifteen Leaders' Letter to Congress here »