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March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
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Why We Stay Away from the Interfaith Roundtable

Jewish groups are pulling out of the Christian-Jewish Roundtable after 15 Protestant leaders, on the Jewish High Holidays, urged Congress to cut aid to Israel.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Sometimes, only a period of separation will save a troubled marriage. That is why the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups are pulling out of the Christian-Jewish Roundtable. Fifteen liberal Protestant leaders, including those of the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist denominations, chose the Jewish High Holiday season to urge Congress to curtail U.S. aid to Israel.

We were expecting a different initiative from our dialogue partners, one focusing on the tens of millions of Christians under siege from Nigeria to Afghanistan. The oldest Christian communities on earth in the Assyrian Triangle of Iraq have been all but ethnically cleaned. More than ten million Coptic Christians in Egypt live in perpetual fear of a government controlled by the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. Practicing Christians in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are incarcerated on charges of blasphemy; in North Korea, they languish in huge concentration camps. As for the plight of the Palestinians – more have been killed in Syria in the past few weeks than in almost four years of conflict with Israel, since the end of the Gaza War.

After decades of breaking bread together, we would have expected these church groups to ask us to join with them to shake the rafters with a prophetic scream on behalf of a religious minority under siege – Christians.

Instead, these groups stand mute while their own brothers and sisters are persecuted, and seek to invoke the wrath of Heaven and Congress on the Jewish state.

We’re not happy about the breakup of a relationship forged with optimism and sincerity. After WW 2, many Christians felt some responsibility for the theological anti-Semitism that set the stage for the racial anti-Semitism of Hitler’s Germany. For many, in the wake of images of Auschwitz, building bridges of understanding and respect to the Jewish world became a priority. At the same time, Jews saw the need to begin a new chapter in Jewish history, one in which Christian friends and neighbors were able to look to their own theology to find the dignity and validity of the Jewish experience. Decades of fruitful conversation and education followed.

There were always bumps in the road, particularly regarding the Jewish State. Unlike Evangelicals who were enthusiastic in their support, liberal denominations had a hard time fully accepting Israel and understanding its centrality to Jews. When Arab armies threatened Israel’s existence in 1948, ’67, and ’73, these denominations did not speak up, to the deep consternation of their Jewish partners. Both parties, however, remained in a less-than-perfect relationship, believing that a core mutual understanding could guide future dialogue. In the case of some signatories of the letter, there never was a relationship. The Mennonite “peace” church has never had anything but unvarnished contempt for Israel; the Quakers may be friends to many, but not to the Jewish people.

Now, with the latest threat to vaporize Israel still ringing in our ears from Ahmadinejad’s soon-to-be nuclearized Iran, with millions of Israelis living within the target range of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets—these erstwhile friends choose this moment to call upon the U.S. to cut into Israel’s defense capabilities.

Why the slap in the face? Thank God, their call to Congress will fall on deaf ears. Americans’ support for Israel remains bipartisan and strong. Did these church elite believe their initiative would lead to more scrutiny of foreign aid? Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt and the Palestinians would likely lose more from calls for greater transparency, not the Jewish state. Israel provides U.S. with vital intelligence, technological and military cooperation, and military aid to Israel creates American jobs.

If peace is these churches’ sole objective, shouldn’t they also criticize the PA’s corruption that led to losing the trust of their own people?

Why else release such a letter? Some suggest that the signatories are seeking to placate the entrenched, vocal anti-Israel extremists in their own churches. Those activists were incensed when the rank and file of several denominations adopted a policy not of divestment but of investment, a strategy that actually produces tangible benefits for the Palestinians.

Alas, we sense there is also a more basic reason at play. Some at this table really don’t like us. How else can we account for such a selective moral outrage, pounding the Jewish State for real and imagined sins, but yet to demand that the U.S. take action when their co-religionists face murder and ethnic cleansing? Only a deep-seated hatred could turn these leaders deaf to all the other urgent issues raging around them.

About the Author: Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is director of Interfaith Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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31 Responses to “Why We Stay Away from the Interfaith Roundtable”

  1. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    It is not "dialog" or a "roundtable" when the one side routinely comes to the table only to castigate and demonize Jews. Like breaking bread with adolf, the Muslim Brotherhood and obama.

  2. I agree with their decision, but your putting Hitler, the Muslim Brotherhood and Barak Obama in the same group is beneath contempt. I think Obama's policies on Israel are misguided, hurtful and counterproductive, but Hitler and the Brotherhood?

  3. Jennifer Badani says:

    I agree with Michael. Don't really like currently the U.S. policies on Israel. Barak Obama has family relatives that are Jewish. So please don't refer him similar to Hitler.

  4. George Elliot says:

    I've heard from inside the church that the head Luthern who signed this does not have the support of his church members. There is an activist component which is very anti Israel and their obession with the wrongs of Israel can only be viewed as anti semitism. What has not yet been said here is the evangelical movement of Christians in America is very alarmed by the persecution of Christians and Bahai and is very strongly supportive of Israel.

  5. Ralph Moran says:

    I am unaware of any of his, Obama, Jewish relatives. I am aware of his Muslim relatives and his communist relatives and friends.

  6. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    I call them as I see them! barack obama is PURPOSELY arming the MB, the latest being a "donation" of 125 M1A1 tanks, squads of F-16s and 3 missile cruisers – all of which will be used in a future war against the Jewish State given the MB's comments (and obama is FULLY aware that will happen!); obama has been sending hezbollah over $100million worth of arms annually through the LAF – and hezbollah's ONLY reason for existence is eliminating the Jewish State (obama knows that very well!); his alliance with the ottomans – obama refers to the islamist erdogan as his "closest political ally" – and further promoting their enhanced military, bellicose attitude towards Jews, and their push to recreate the Armenian genocide this time against the Kurds and all with obama's approval, promotion and financing; then there is his senior security adviser Powers who has called for a "US led NATO invasion of Israel to return the land to the indigenous people and return the Jews back to where they came from (look thru youtube – the videos are there); obama's alliance and eing mentored by jesse "hymie" jackson, al "massacre at Freddy's fashoon mart" sharpton, Rev "damn Jews" wright, and louis "the Jews are monkeys" farakhan are well known and publicized; and who can leave out obama's financing by and fealty to soros, a kapo who described the time he was stealing from Jews and helping the nazis "the happiest days of [his] life." (Again look thru youtube – the videos are there!) That said, I stand by the comments. Misguided? Wasserman Schultz is misguided. The terms I used for obama stand.

  7. Anonymous says:

    In order to get to the bottom of this purported deep concern for the Palestinian, Jews and Christians need to first, acknowledge that 99% of those churches HATE Jews, always have, always will. Second, every caring Jew and Gentile with a solid economic/accounting background needs to begin getting fiscal records of these organizations. Pronto. I believe all sorts of interesting deposits, wire transfers and general financial skull duggery will fall out of the closet.

    Stop buying this "We are in this together nonsense." Non-evangelicals did and would help Hitler run the trains faster. They are hard hearted to the slaughter of Jews by these peaceful Palestinians. At some point, Jewish leaders need to refocus the more utopian members of the tribe and demand that Jewish life be held as paramount.

  8. Kent Barcus says:

    Rather than "liberal Protestant leaders" I'd term them "abandonists" for their shunning of traditional Christianity, setting aside of Scripture, and indifference/hostility regarding Israel..

  9. Kent Barcus says:

    Rather than "liberal Protestant leaders" I'd term them "abandonists" for their shunning of traditional Christianity, setting aside of Scripture, and indifference/hostility regarding Israel..

  10. Martin Freye says:

    They might set themselves as Christian Leaders but it wasn't in our name that they made this declaration. UK Christian Brotherhood

  11. I don't really understand all the different strains of Christianity though I understand the basic Protestant Catholic divide. I don't know what label the evangelicals use, I do know they vote and have to be reminded that a strong Israel is in the USA best interest and yet understand the cost of this support ultimately is that the groups want to convert the Jewish souls

  12. Cassie Phillips says:

    This group of liberal denominations does not speak for many of us in the US. The Calvary Chapel I attend in Phoenix, Arizona is pro Israel and we stand beside you.

  13. So much for Christianity. I believe that with this Replacement Theology these 15 church leaders have forgotten the main truth. Jesus of Nazareth was,is and always will be a Jew. Without His teachings, which is TRUE Torah, there would be no Christianity today. Jesus may have revealed Himself to Constantine & Christianity was forcefully spread, but the teachings were, still are pure Torah. We need to protect Israel & the innocent Palestinians because the Brotherhood don't care who they kill. Pray for protection & Peace.

  14. It might be good to remember that the church was born in sin, antisemitism, remember those antisemite church fathers? http://www.yashanet.com/library/fathers.htm They could not invent a decent religion so they were forced to take Judaism and make the revolutionary change of moving Saturday to Sunday. And have ever hated the Jews for their lack of imagination.

    I grew up in the Pentecostal church, but would never call myself Christian again because of all hatred from church leaders, like here in Sweden. They know nothing, have no logic, but they have gained power somehow, sigh. Writing a Swedish blog about the Middle East, the facts about Israel no Swedish mass media dare to mention. EU has more Mosque goers than Church goers and we see the result. Who wants to listen to an antisemitic priest who hates himself?

    Obviously there are many good Christians, thou not because they are following some leader but their own soul. There are Chiristians helping the Jewish settlers expand the lands in Judea/Samaria like they have done for 130 years, according to the will of God and the orders from the international law created in San Remo almost 100 years ago.

  15. Charlie Hall says:

    Ever read Rov Soloveitchik's "Confrontation"? We Jews have no business telling Christian groups what they should believe.

  16. Charlie Hall says:

    There are in fact two Christian churches, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church, who have renounced traditional supercessionist Christian theology, adopting instead a doctrine that God's covenant with the Jewish people is eternal. They are a lot more than 1% of the churches in the US.

  17. Charlie Hall says:

    Barack Obama's half-brother is halachically Jewish. He lives in China.

  18. Charlie Hall says:

    Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo is the name of the Jewish half-brother. Mark's mother, Ruth Ndesandjo, is Jewish and is Barack Obama's stepmother.

  19. Dear Rabbis Cooper and Alderstein,

    I think that I understand why you are upset, but I do not think that withdrawing from this group is necessarily the best idea.

    Of course, there are a number of things that I do not understand about what you are saying. For starters, it would be good if you defined what you mean by the "Interfaith Round Table." When I Google this term, I find interfaith roundtables all over the country consisting of diverse groups. The Christians are not solely Protestants. Some are Evangelicals, Baptists, Lutherans and whatever. There are Muslims and Hindus and Bahai in some Interfaith Roundtables. Are Protestants the only Christians that are part of a specific Interfaith Roundtable to which you belong (or previously belonged)? If the Evangelicals and other more pro-Jewish Christians are also part of it, it would not seem to be a good idea to leave. But even if all the Christians in the groups signed that letter, it may still be a mistake to leave the group. Surely that letter could not be the whole topic of discussion.

    If, as you imply, you would be happy to "join with them [the Christians] to shake the rafters with a prophetic scream on behalf of a religious minority under siege – Christians", why not shake the rafters on behalf of the beseiged Christians unilaterly while staying with group. I think that would be a better plan.

    I am Jewish and I want Israel not only to survive but to thrive. Also, I support many initiatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and have donated money to your organization as well as to Israeli organizations. But I am getting more and more annoyed by the tendency of some Jewish groups to imply that all Jews must toe the line and show complete solidarity with some party line about Israel that is decided by people that I never have chance to vote for or even see. I tend to accept the argument that the United States gets a good amount of value for its aid to Israel in the ways that you describe. Also. by balancing that aid with aid to the various Muslim countries that we help to support and arm (such as Egypt), we gain a certain leverage in that region. If we cut the whole thing, other groups, such as the Russians and the Chinese, would probably fill the vacuum and then we would have less influence. So I think the aid is worthwhile to the United States. But these are tough times economically for us and for most of the world, as you must surely know. So I can understand why some people feel we would be better off scrapping the whole program.

    I reserve the right to think for myself, including the right to criticize Israel, and I believe that others, whatever their religion, have that right as well. To me it seems almost crazy to stop dialogue with people whose only offense seems to have been suggesting that the United States stop giving billions to Israel. Though I disagree with that position, I respect it and I believe it would be better if you at least tolerated the fact that they have such a position and attempted to have dialogue about other things. Surely the whole point of belong to the "Interfaith Roundtable" (whatever it is) cannot be solely to drum up support for Israel.

  20. I agree with Michael that putting Obama in that group is wrong. I disagree with him, however, insofar as he believes Obama's policies on Israel are misguided. Obama has supported Israel quite strongly. You may get more blustering and more rabid pro-Israel comments from the Republicans, but they have never provided any more substantive support than has Obama. And don't expect more American support of Israel is Romney wins the election. Regarding military aid to Egypt, it give the United States more leverage in the region to give aid to some of the Muslim nations. First and foremost, the United States must act in its own interests, not Israel's. Often these interests coincide, but not in every respect. Support of Israel is not the raison d'etre of the United States.

  21. Anyone who reads the full 78-page State Dept human rights report (which the 15 Christian leaders cherry-pick from) can actually see an extremely positive assessment of Israel. They can also see that the State Dept sometimes cites "reports" from others (i.e. ngos) about human rights abuses that the agency hasn't validated. Is Israel perfect in the human rights arena? Hardly. No country is. It has sometimes overreacted in situations and it has made some terrible mistakes—just like any government does, and will continue to do.

    But I would challenge anybody to name one democracy that has—to quote Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz—"behaved better, more lawfully and generously, when faced with equivalent threats to its citizens and to its survival." I think any hearing by Congress on the matter would show that Israel is a model for the world in this regard.

    As U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan once put it: "It may well be Israel, not the United States, that provides the best hope for building jurisprudence that can protect civil liberties against the demands of national security…. The nations of the world, faced with sudden threats to their own security, will look to Israel's experience in handling its continuing security crisis, and may well find in that experience that expertise to reject the security claims that Israel has exposed as baseless and the courage to preserve the civil liberties that Israel has preserved without detriment to its security."

  22. Mark Belnick says:

    Rabbis, you are absolutely right. You took the right step. Regrettably, but necessary. No more pulling down window shades or looking away. A dialogue is a two- way street or it is, at best, a farce — at worst, an incendiary. A time to every season.

  23. Julie Dinkins-Borkowski says:

    First of all, the Benghazi fallout information that is being discovered is more horrific than the media is letting on, but it is out there. The complete foreign policy failures go far beyond just the denial of security detail for the ambassador.

    There is gun running weaponry involved that Hillary and Obama were trying to get back from the Libyan rebels after the overthrow of Libya. Except Al queda did not want to give them back. Al Qaeda have been funneling those American weapons, as well as 400 tons of weapons from the Libyan stores to Syria. The state department was trying to stop it, and Hillary knew they had to stop it before the American people found out that innocent civilians are being brutally murdered by American weapons.

    Unfortunately Christopher Stevens was the middleman that Hillary hand picked to send to Libya to negotiate the deal to get our weapons back.

    He was promised our military would not let him come to harm if the deal went bad.

    The state department lost control and Al Quead retaliated and killed the Ambassador. She and obama failed America. They thought they could play with fire and win. They were wrong.

    This information is getting deeply disturbing and we should all be paying attention to Benghazi's investigation by leading members of Congress including Issa. It should be a deciding factor of who we elect in 16 days. This church stuff is a distraction.

  24. Ruth Hirt says:

    Such conducts of Liberal Christians are not just revulsive, it is as well highly questionable in terms of grasping the gist of the Holy Scriptures in relation to what Jews stand for and the expected role of the Christian church.

    Elite, liberal churches are banes to the rest of the inter-Christian circle. Their pride expressive in their capacity to influence major church issues involving monetary leverage prove an open display of truth in the Book of Revelation 3:..17-18 there are clear applications determining wrong values acted out by those tyrant liberals. May they go back to the Bible and inquire, not for business expansions, but for spiritual reflections, remorse, repentance. May HaShem forgive them…

  25. Kent Barcus says:

    A reasonable point except that the topic deals with "Interfaith Roundtable" and I'm not commenting from a Jewish perspective though I recognize there is not a uniformity of thought among Jewish groups of practically any size.

  26. Ruth Hirt says:

    How are you Jill Amadi ? Hold on to the Greatest Physician Jesus the L_rd.

  27. Jill Amadi says:

    He sure is my Physician, my Creator, & my Manufacturer.

  28. Ted Turner says:

    Who cares!

  29. For two reasons I don't blame you for pulling out of the interfaith roundtable. First, there is only one road, not many http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/. And second of all, it is hypocritical to want to talk to you and at the same time ask our government to stop supporting you http://483years.blogspot.com/.

  30. Ruth Hirt says:

    The false and evil moves of these liberal Christian groups do not reflect the various denominations of Christendom. G_d-fearing, close followers and observers of the Holy Scriptures decry and despise double-standards of unG_dly Christian liberals.

Comments are closed.

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More Articles from Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein
Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Sometimes, only a period of separation will save a troubled marriage. That is why the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups are pulling out of the Christian-Jewish Roundtable. Fifteen liberal Protestant leaders, including those of the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist denominations, chose the Jewish High Holiday season to urge Congress to curtail U.S. aid to Israel.

As Israel braces for the next round of pummeling courtesy of the Goldstone report, its security and standing in the international community are impaired not only by terrorists and hostile regimes, but also by two different sets of highly motivated Jews prepared to endanger Israel in the name of “Jewish values.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/why-we-stay-away-from-the-interfaith-roundtable/2012/10/19/

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