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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Citing Betrayal of Trust, Jewish Groups Pull Out of Interfaith Dialogue

Jewish groups have pulled out of a meeting with Protestant colleagues over a letter from Christian leaders to congressmen calling for suspension of aid to Israel.
Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs says the two-state solution will take care of the problem.

Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs says the two-state solution will take care of the problem.

The old adage about going to bed with dogs and waking up with fleas appears to have been proven true yet again, as JTA is reporting that Jewish groups have pulled out of an upcoming meeting with Protestant colleagues over a letter from Christian leaders to congressmen calling for a possible suspension of U.S. aid to Israel.

“While we remain committed to continuing our dialogue and our collaboration on the many issues of common concern, the letter represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business-as-usual approach,” stated a letter sent by seven Jewish groups to their Christian counterparts in canceling their participation in the Oct. 22 -23 meeting in New York.

The event, an annual gathering, is known as the Christian-Jewish Roundtable and began in 2004 when the issue of Protestant groups divesting from their financial portfolios operations doing business with Israel rose to prominence. Prior to the Protestants’ letter to the lawmakers, participants had pledged to update one another on activities regarding Israel, such as the Palestinians’ statehood push in the United Nations and the upcoming Israeli elections.

According to JTA, the letter by the Jewish representatives was signed by the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The Anti-Defamation League had announced earlier this week that it would not attend the meeting.

So, the main reason for the association between Jewish faith officials and the Christian churches—which gave oodles of good press to those churches, seeing as the Jews are dialoguing with them—the excuse for all that, which was that this is the way to prevent them from boycotting Israel – that’s been a sham all along.

Sometimes it’s so much fun to be a self-righteous Orthodox Jew. I’m not advocating against intellectual or even spiritual exchanges with fellow monotheists, including Protestants – but a dialogue is something else entirely. A dialogue implies finding the kind of common ground that makes faiths merge. We won’t have any of that.

Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs umbrella group. told JTA that the Jewish groups quit their participation because “There’s been a betrayal of trust. … We have to discern if there’s a positive path forward.”

What’s the positive path? What do you need from Christian churches? What’s the desired result, a “Judeo-Christian” church?

Signers of the Protestants’ letter to Congress included the heads of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches USA and the United Church of Christ.

Saying they have “witnessed the pain and suffering” of both Israelis and Palestinians, they implored the lawmakers to launch “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel” of agreements with Washington for alleged illegal use of U.S.-sold weapons against Palestinians.

Such peace loving folks, spreading all that good in the world to help not just the poor Palestinian victims, but also to save the souls of their Jewish oppressors…

And guess what – Rachel Lerner, vice president of the J Street Educational Fund, wrote last Friday on the Daily Beast website that J Street shared the Christian 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.’”

There you go. They’re all so concerned for us, we better go check our Uzis…

Lerner called for American Jews to put “at least as much energy and effort” into pushing for a two-state solution as they are putting into fighting such letters, of which she said there would be more.

Yes, another great idea that hasn’t lost its charm despite the rivers of blood it has spilled since we first tried it out in 1994. Why don’t we just pack our suitcases and go back to Poland – that might stop the boycotts.

Also—this was to be expected—a dozen Jewish clergy allied with Jewish Voice for Peace praised the Protestants’ leaders call. Many of the organization’s members have called for boycotts of Israel.

“It is altogether appropriate – and in fact essential – for Congress to ensure that Israel is not in violation of any U.S. laws or policies that regulate the use of U.S. supplied weapons,” said the statement signed by 10 rabbis, two rabbinical students and a cantor.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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