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New York, NY, July 13, 2004 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called the actions taken by the Presbyterian Church USA to fund the missionizing of Jews and its call for divestiture from companies doing business with Israel "offensive and distressing."
In a letter to the leader of the Presbyterian Church USA, Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Gary Bretton-Granatoor, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, wrote:
We were offended and distressed by the actions of the Presbyterian Church USA at your most recent General Assembly pertaining to Jews and Israel. Specifically, we cite the vote to continue funding the Avodat Yisrael Church, and other missionizing churches targeting Jews, and the "overture" or resolution calling for divestiture from Israel.
Targeting Jews for conversion to Christianity is an insult to the Jewish people. History has shown us that the backdrop for intolerance toward Jews in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust, was the absence of Christian respect for Judaism's legitimacy.
Your unbalanced and unfair characterization of the Jewish community's concern for the safety and security of the State of Israel is deeply troubling. To assert that there is a moral equivalency between the racist policy of apartheid and the efforts to protect the citizenry of Israel is unconscionable. To further suggest that the same technique used to break the racist policies of apartheid, that of divestiture, be employed against those doing business with Israel is to support that inaccurate and unjust moral equivalency.
The PCUSA's "overture" on Israel's security fence, which is characterized as "the Wall" as if we were referring to the Wall that once bisected Berlin, is unfair. This fence is a temporary measure which has proven to be effective in protecting innocent people from terrorist attacks. When these attacks cease so will the need for a protective barrier. That will only come about when responsible Palestinian leadership is ready to make good-faith efforts at negotiation and peace-making and call an end to terrorist attacks on innocent Israelis. Your overture makes no mention of the causes which led to the need to take drastic measures of protection.
The recent actions of the General Assembly calls into question the efforts of interfaith dialogue between Presbyterians and Jews. We have been taught that unless one knows what hurts the other, that person cannot profess love for the other. We are hurt and the need to share that hurt with you comes with the concomitant plea that we make the effort to learn to respect one another and return to a dialogue that is meaningful and transformative.