The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing more than 1000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, on Tuesday sent a letter to Representative Andy Levin (D-MI 9th District), expressing “grave concern” and asking him and 105 cosignatories, all of whom are Democratic members of the House of Representatives, to withdraw a letter they had sent last week to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The CJV said the letter took a consistently hostile position towards Israel, misstated historical facts, and called on the administration to violate US law.
Andy Levin was elected in 2018 to the US House of Representatives, succeeding his retiring father Sander “Sandy” Levin. He is the nephew of former U.S. Senator Carl Levin.
Early last week, Sec. Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration would reverse the Obama-era position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, concluding that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.” The CJV commended Mr. Pompeo for his decision, writing that “recognition of the legality of Jewish settlement in Judea accords with the Bible itself and the historical reality.”
Levin and others, however, sent a letter to Pompeo on Thursday expressing “strong disagreement” and making a number of claims which the CJV termed “false and misleading.”
“The signatories demonstrated an alarmingly callous attitude towards Israelis, their self-determination, and their human rights,” said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Eastern Regional Vice President of the CJV. “Jews were ethnically cleansed from towns in Judea and Samaria in 1929 and 1936, and then driven out entirely by Jordan in 1948 – yet the signatories claim that the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits them from moving back. It is hard not to read that claim as unsympathetic to Jews and history.”
The CJV highlighted numerous false historical and legal assertions found in the members’ letter. For example, the letter says it was wrong to move the US Embassy “outside of a negotiated agreement,” though the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 called for the embassy to be moved simply because Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and home to Jews for 3000 years. The signatories also referred to settlements and the “associated demolitions of Palestinian homes;” in reality, no home has been demolished to make way for settlements, while the entirely new town of Rawabi hosts more than 4,000 Arab residents and construction continues with Israeli support.
“The worst part of the letter,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle, “is its condemnation of the ‘halting of aid’ to the West Bank and Gaza. The Trump Administration is withholding that aid in accordance with the Taylor Force Act and the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018, because the Palestinian Authority, UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) and Hamas were using US funds to encourage and reward terrorism. For members of Congress to declare that ‘this administration has undermined America’s moral standing’ by denying funding for terror turns reality on its head.”